Summary: A case of passion, some temporary team reshufflings, a few emotional revelations, and enough jealousy and unrequited love to satisfy a teenager.
Categories: CSI - Bitextual Characters: Gil Grissom, Nick Stokes, Sara Sidle
Genres: Case, Drama, Pre-relationship
Chapters: 2 Completed: Yes
Word count: 15419 Read: 6360
Published: 28 Apr 2005 Updated: 28 Apr 2005
1. Triangles by talaquinn
2. One Line Broken by talaquinn
A note on pairings: This story could be considered general fiction, but it does contain unrequited Sara/Gil and Nick/Gil and a bit of (requited) Catherine/Wrrick.
He knelt next to the body, noting the numerous fresh bruises and the two gunshot wounds, one to the back of the head and the other to the lower back. Looking at the assistant coroner kneeling across from him, Gil nodded to the body between them. "Do we know who she is?"
The answer came not from David but from behind him. "April Anderson, 23 years old. She and the other victim were found when the hotel's security guard was called to investigate possible gunshots."
Gil looked up at Brass. "Aren't you supposed to be on vacation?"
His friend closed his eyes briefly. "I was. For two weeks. Nice to know you missed me." He shook his head and smiled a little. "Anyway the other victim, Terrance Right, has been taken to Desert Palms. The paramedics don't have high hopes for him."
There was a sound of another person entering the room and putting down a kit behind Gil. He didn't turn. "Sara, I want you to go and process the other victim if you can, but at the least-"
"Get pictures and his personals." She interrupted him. Gil nodded, the movement causing him to notice some black flecks and fibres underneath the victim's nails, so he didn't turn to see her go.
Gil heard something suspiciously like a 'tsk' from Brass, and craned his head to look at his friend. "What?"
Brass just bared his teeth a little and held up his case notebook. "IDs for the two victims were found on the side table by the door, his in a wallet, hers in a purse. Both were empty of cash, but not credit cards."
After noting the table Gil went back to scraping the body's fingernails. "Did you see the other victim?" When he had come in, it had looked like the bed was where the action had taken place, but there was a fair amount of blood beside the body and heading towards the door.
"For a moment, the paramedics removed him as fast as possible. His hands were hamburger, face not much better."
That didn't sound much like the actions of a robber. Gil looked up at Brass and raised an eyebrow. His friend took the message, grinned, and started ordering everyone out and away.
File in hand Nick strode into the trace lab with the intention of letting his team mates know the good news that their detective had found that would close their most recent case, only to find them in a somewhat unprofessional position. Catherine was sitting in front of a microscope, and Warrick stood behind her, arms around her chest, and while she may have been looking at some trace before, she was currently leaning back against Warrick's chest, eyes half-closed.
Nick smiled and shook his head. He'd known the two of them had started something, they had told him last week, and promised that it wouldn't affect the team dynamic or their work. Nick wasn't positive, but cuddling while on the clock didn't seem very professional, and as for their team dynamic, well Warrick wasn't in the habit of hugging him like that, not that Nick wanted him to start.
He coughed and walked further into the room. And he wasn't too proud to admit to himself that he enjoyed the way Warrick guiltily jumped away, or the look of surprise on Catherine's face. "We got the suspect's credit card statement. It places him making some very interesting purchases over the last month, all adding up to-"
"All the parts to create the murder weapon." Warrick, his compose regained, took the file from Nick's hand and started flipping through it.
Catherine stood up from the table and walked over to where they were standing. "Nick," she put her hand gently on his arm, "we-"
He continued overtop of her. It was easier to pretend that nothing was going on; he wanted the team to stay together. "The case seems to be wrapping up, and since Greg is away at that DNA conference, Gris' new case is going to need more than just him and Sara working on it. As my supervisor I'll need your permission to head over and assist."
Catherine removed her hand as if his forearm had burned her. "Nick," She sighed, looked over at Warrick, who was carefully reading the file, and back at him. "Okay, I give
Grissom a call, head over now I guess."
Nick nodded and turned to leave.
"This isn't about- is it?" She sounded slightly wary.
He turned back. "Naw, I'm just not looking forward to having nothing to do for a shift or so." He smiled a little, before heading out of the room. It wasn't that he minded them; in fact he was delighted that there was at least one happy couple in the state of Nevada, but their happiness was starting to make his loneliness seem larger in comparison.
And so, in a slightly masochistic move he was volunteering to work a case, and deal with the Sara and Grissom show. If he was lucky, if a miracle occurred, maybe the same spark of attraction that had flared up between Grissom and him from time to time, most recently during that infantilism case, would flare up again. If he wasn't, which was the more likely or the two scenarios, he would get to see Sara make cow-eyes at Grissom, and watch Grissom in turn, flirt in that seemingly naÔve manner of his. Come to think of it, Catherine and Warrick must actually be getting to him if he was going to walk into that.
Sara walked briskly down the hospital corridor trying not to see the suffering on all sides. Instead she basked in the glow that working a case with just her and Grissom brought.
No Greg, no borrowed trainees, and as much as she sometimes missed working with Catherine, Warrick and Nick, none of them either. This case was going to be, well, fun.
Smiling at the woman behind the nurse's station counter, she stopped set down her kit and unhooked her ID. "My name is Sara Sidle; I'm with the crime lab. I'm here about a Terrance Right, brought in earlier this evening."
The nurse didn't even look down at the charts on the desk. "He's in surgery right now, but I can get you his affects. That poor man, he's a poet you know, and someone broke nearly every bone in his hands."
Sara nodded, "Thank you, and could you page me when he's in recovery? I'll need to document the damage."
The nurse nodded and walked over to a cabinet. Sara took out her card and placed in the desk. Then she headed back out the way she came, mentally scrolling through local bookstores, if the vic was a poet, maybe his works could tell them something.
Gil almost finished photo-documenting the room when he heard someone enter the room and set down their kit. "Sara, back from the hospital already?"
The soft masculine laughter from behind him definitely wasn't Sara's. "You must be loosing your touch, Grissom.
I'd thought that you could identify any of us from our footsteps."
Nick. Why- Gil recalled the brief call from Catherine about fifteen minutes earlier. "You arrived fast; Catherine only called a quarter hour ago." He snapped a few photos of the spatter pattern from the victim's back wound, and then looked over at his co-worker. "Start by the bed. I'll take the door." Gil snapped one last photo and stood up. "David took the body just before you arrived, and the other vic is at Desert Palms, Sara's with him." He looked over at Nick who was slipping on a pair of gloves. The younger man looked tired, and Gil opened his mouth to ask if anything was wrong, but closed his mouth when Nick shook his head.
"Brass said that the DB was shot twice, and that it looked at though the other vic was beaten with a blunt object.
Have you found any sign of a murder weapon?" Nick took out his flashlight and started scanning the room.
"Our shooting victim was beaten as well, although from what I could tell, it was less of a blunt object in her case then a hand to hand beating. She had a fair amount of trace under her nails. I sent it back to the lab with David."
"You don't believe that robbery was the motive, do you?" Nick saw something gleam in the corner, and walked over carefully.
"No, the way Ms. Anderson was killed suggests a certain amount of emotion. Also, she was wearing a very expensive necklace, and if someone was willing to kill her for the cash in her wallet, they would have taken the necklace as well." Gil stopped attempting to calculate blood splatter velocity, and looked over to where Nick was crouched. "Did you find something?"
Nick turned holding a blood splattered 9mm handgun. "Yeah, our murder weapon."
By the time Sara was allowed in to see the victim, Terrance Right, she had already been able to find two books of his poetry, and been referred to three other collections containing his works. She'd brought them all. Hopefully, the finances would cover the purchases; books of poetry were expensive these days.
She opened the door to the recovery room, nodding at the nurse who was checking Right's vitals. "How's he doing?" She stepped up to the bed, and took in the man lying in it.
"I'm sure you already heard about his hands. Multiple fractures in all the phalanges, carpals, and meta-carpals, the surgeon did his best, but we won't know how well the surgery worked until the swelling goes down."
Sara took in the bandaged hands and nodded. "And I can see the damage to his face and upper torso, brutal. Is there much other damage?"
"His back is worse, there is severe renal bruising; we're watching that closely as well."
"His jaw and cheekbones are broken, aren't they?"
The nurse looked at Sara and nodded. "Yes, and he has a severe concussion, whomever did this was angry, you don't have to be a detective to get that." She looked back down at her patient. "He probably won't be awake or coherent enough to give a statement for a fair amount of time. I'll make a note for you to be contacted when he is able to."
Sara nodded and held up her camera. "Thanks, can I take some photos?"
Nick was nearly finished bagging and tagging the evidence when he heard someone yelling in the hall. He stood up and put an evidence bag aside, and walked slowly towards the hall, hand hovering over his holster. He could see a bit of an arm waving in the hallway, and it sounded like an irate female. He peered around the door to see a young woman yelling at the uniform standing at the door.
"What's going on in there? That's my room. Where's my husband? Answer me, damnit." Her voice rose with every word and Nick suppressed a wince as he stepped around the half closed door and moved into the hallway.
Smiling in a manner that he knew was disarming, Nick peeled of his gloves and held out a placating hand. "Ma'am, is there something I can help you with?" The woman stepped out of the uniform's personal space and looked at Nick, her scowl fading a bit.
"I want to know what happened, and he won't tell me anything." She was almost pretty underneath the anger and caked on makeup, her dark hair was pulled up in a complicated ponytail of some sort, and her clothing was new.
Nick didn't see any shopping bags, but he would bet that her credit card had been getting some exercise lately.
"I'm Nick Stokes; I'm with the Crime Lab. If you could tell me you name I'll give you what information I can."
"Michelle Right. Where's my husband? That's our room you have taped off." Her intense brown eyes left his face and looked behind him, to look at what Nick assumed was the hotel room door.
Nick turned his head and caught the uniform's eye and mouthed 'Call Brass' before speaking to the woman before him. "Mrs. Right, your husband has been severely injured. He's been taken to Desert Palms."
The woman lifted one of her hands to her mouth; Nick didn't neglect to notice the sizable rock on her ring finger.
"Terrance? What happened?"
"That's what we are here to find out." Nick smiled but cringed internally, he knew what he had to do next.
Processing the family of a victim always was painful, especially when they were a suspect. From the corner of his eye he could see Brass stepping out of the elevator down the hall. "Could you tell me, Mrs. Right, where you were tonight?"
The woman widened her eyes. "Am I a suspect?"
Nick just smiled. "Why don't you talk to Captain Brass here for a moment, while I grab my kit." He nodded at Brass who moved to stand in front of the woman and ducked back into the hotel room.
Grissom was labelling some swabs but looked up when Nick came in. "Angry neighbour?"
"Angry wife. Brass is talking to her, and I'll process her quickly. She is either a good actress or clueless, she seemed genuinely surprised to hear about her husband." Nick tidied up his open kit, and slid some GSR pads and some swabs into his vest for easy access. He went back to the hallway where Brass and their possible suspect were.
"Just shopping, for the last, eight hours? Did you buy anything?" Brass was frowning at the woman, no surprise, and she looked harassed, also not surprising.
She shook her head. "I stopped by a couple of casinos, to see what they are all about, I couldn't tell you their names off the top of my head, but within walking distance of the hotel. And I haven't bought anything yet, I always window shop first, to find the best deals, you know?"
Nick set his kit down next to Brass. "Sorry to interrupt, but Mrs. Right I'd like to take a DNA sample, check for gunshot residue, take your fingerprints and check under your nails." He pulled out a bindle and a nail file. "I know it is a lot, but it will help our investigation." She nodded and let him take the samples he needed. He noticed that she didn't question that they were checking for GSR, but he guessed it was reasonable to assume that a hotel room attack would involve a gun. Nick stepped away from Mrs. Right and nodded to Brass to continue.
"Next question. Do you know a woman named Alicia Anderson?" Brass had that hopeful look on his face that the suspect would trip up early and the case could be closed with minimum fuss.
There was a brief narrowing of Michelle Right's eyes, but then her expression smoothed out. "Yes, our parents are old friends. Why, what does she have to do with this?"
Nick looked up from where he was kneeling to label his samples. The GSR tests were negative. "She was found dead in the room with your husband."
Several emotions flickered across Mrs. Right's face but all she said was "Oh."
Brass' frown eased a smidgen and he made a couple of notes on his ever present notepad. Nick wondered briefly if the department would ever offer him an electronic version.
"Okay, that's all for now. Let's go down to the lobby and get someone to give you a ride to the hospital so you can see your husband."
As Brass walked Mrs. Right down the hall, Nick smiled in apology to the uniform and turned to regard Grissom who was standing in the doorway frowning looking in the direction that the others had just left.
"Is there something wrong, Gris?" If Grissom knew something, Nick wanted to know as well, not that he expected anything his temporary supervisor was not known for sharing his preliminary opinions, but it didn't hurt to try. As expected Grissom just shook his head and went back into the room. Nick followed, with one of the victims still living, they would be pulling a long shift before someone managed to send them home.
Gil found Sara flipping through a book of poems in the break room when he returned to the lab. "Some light reading?"
She looked up, and smiled twitchily. "It's for the case. Terrance Right is a poet. Not a very popular one, but his stuff isn't half bad from what I know about poetry." She glanced down at the slim book in her hands. "Which admittedly isn't much." She closed the book and pointed to another sitting on top of a small pile beside her. Gil walked over to look at it. "There's one poem in there, the best I've read so far, called 'Two-Tone Soul' and in the bibliography I pulled up off the net has been reprinted in several different books."
Gil smiled. "And it is within my two-tone soul that resides my hidden heart/ that awaits the day in which/I will be capable of hitting both notes at once."
Sara shook her head. "That's a direct quote, isn't it?" He nodded. "I wonder sometimes about the sheer volume of knowledge inside your brain."
Gil pulled out a chair beside her and started flipping through on of the books. "It is a beautiful poem, poignant.
I haven't read much of his work, but from the few poems that I have they seem to have a similar theme."
Sara nodded. "Full of heartache and impossible decisions. Do you think that Alicia is one of his influences?"
"Well we found his wife; Brass seems to think she is a viable suspect. Nick is trying to find the owner of the murder weapon right now."
Sara looked at him. "Wife? Murder weapon? Nick?"
He had the grace to look slightly sheepish. "I wanted to hear about how you were coming along before I brought you up to speed on what I've found. How is our victim doing?"
Sara didn't appear to be mollified but answered anyway. "Not good, he still hasn't regained consciousness, his hands are ruined even after they did reconstructive surgery, he has severe bruising all over his body, and they're keeping a close eye on one of his kidneys. The preliminary report and photos are set up in evidence room four."
Gil nodded. "Then let's head over. Catherine assigned Nick to our case when they closed theirs at the beginning of swing. We processed the scene and he found a bloody handgun. Terrance Right's wife showed up about an hour ago wanting to know where her husband was, Nick got some trace off of her and Brass got a shaky alibi."
Sara nodded and opened the door to the evidence room she had claimed. Gil walked up the wall of pictures of Terrance Right's injuries. She stepped up beside him. "They had to clean him up before they could operate, so all we have from him is his clothes."
Gil pointed to a picture of the bruising on the victim's face. "That looks like it could have been made with the butt of a gun."
Sara moved close to him and peered at the photo. "It might have been. The injuries he sustained could not have been made without the help of a blunt object."
There was a cough from the doorway and Gil turned to see Nick standing there. "Hey. I dropped the gun and the rest of the samples with Mia, and Hodges decided that he would take a look at the trace we brought in sometime tonight."
Gil noticed that Sara hadn't moved away, but was looking at Nick, and he got a faint sense that something might be going on that he wasn't aware of. So he moved away from her, and leaned against the table. "Good, have you heard from Brass?"
Nick shook his head. "He said that he would head down here once he got everything organised."
Gil nodded, and then felt his pager go off. He took it off his belt. Al was ready to do the autopsy on Alicia Anderson. He looked up, "Well Nick, Sara, I've got to head down to the morgue." He slipped his pager back onto his belt, and didn't feel cowardly at all leaving the other two to deal with each other.
Sitting down at the large evidence table having traded pertinent case information, Sara watched Nick from the corner of her eye. Grissom was in the basement, playing with Doc Robbins, and she had an inkling that he was avoiding them. "So what brings you back to graveyard? Is the swing shift not busy enough for you?"
Nick shook his head and grinned a little. "We wrapped our case, nothing new came in and I knew that Greg was presenting at that conference in LA, so Cat sent me over here."
Sara knew about Warrick and Catherine's blossoming relationship, and she felt for Nick, really, but this was her case and Grissom's, they didn't need Nick along 'helping'. "Being the third wheel bringing you down?" She wanted to add 'don't expect it to change by working with us', but she knew Nick well enough that he wouldn't be fazed.
"I think that Terrance Right's poetry indicates that if he wasn't having an affair with our dead woman that he at least was thinking about it for a long time." Nick's statement threw her for a moment, but she got it, time to work, obviously he wasn't up to verbal sparring tonight.
"And with both victims were beaten by an emotional attacker." Sara turned towards her wall of photos. "The bruising on our male victim is haphazard, but forceful. And he sustained no defensive wounds at all. That could indicate that he knew the attacker." She felt Nick move to stand beside her, no where near as close as she had to Grissom.
"With what Gris told me about Anderson's body was that she did sustain several defensive wounds, but she might have known her attacker as well, just may have been more willing to fight back." Nick sounded engaged with the idea and Sara knew that like her he was running likely scenarios through his head.
A familiar voice came from the far end of the room. "The trace under your dead female's fingernails was black synthetic leather and two fragments of cotton threads. Run of the mill red. Probably from a shirt. There was nothing to send to DNA." Sara turned to see Hodges in the inside the doorway holding a number of computer printouts.
Nick spoke from beside her. "So do you think that the attacker was wearing gloves?"
Hodges ignored him and sort of leered at Sara. "I think the perp might have been wearing gloves. Jacqui found no fingerprints on the gun."
Sara nodded and shuddered internally Hodges creeped her out sometimes. She managed a tight smile. "Thanks Hodges." She walked over and took the printouts from him. "That was really quick. Thank you."
Hodges smiled widely back at her. "If you want to show your appreciation, we could go for breakfast after work."
Sara held back an irrational urge to laugh, or gag. Where had he got the idea that she was interested in him? She flirted with Greg more and she sure wasn't planning on having breakfast alone with him anytime soon. Or ever for that matter. "Sorry, Hodges, this case is live; I'll be pulling a fair amount of overtime on it."
Hodges nodded but didn't look deterred. "Next time then." Not waiting for an answer he left.
There was a choked sound from Nick. "Finally moved on from Grissom then?"
Sara could hear the smirk in his voice and turned to glare at him. She opened her mouth to tell him exactly where he could go and how to get there when from the corner of her eyes she could see Brass poke his head into the room. She broke off her glare at Nick to look at the detective.
He raised an eyebrow. "I chased down the owner of the handgun, a David Ebbinghaus, works in the bar at the hotel that both victims were staying at. I also found out that Alicia Anderson was here for a recruiting fair, she worked in human resources at a hospital in Oregon."
Sara nodded. "And Terrance Right is a poet. What does the wife do?"
"She works in retail. The Rights live less than six miles away from the late Ms. Anderson, and have for awhile according to the records. I've notified her next of kin, her brother, he'll be on the next flight down."
Sara could hear Nick sigh, and knew that he was thinking of brother of the dead woman, and having to deal with the grief that the death of a family member brings. It wasn't often that she herself strayed down that path, the times in the past that she had, only led to heartache. Nick seemed to do so with nearly every case. Sara couldn't decide if it was a weakness or a sign of strength.
Brass continued. "Anyway, I've got the information on file for you guys here, and I was wondering if one of you would like to tag along for a visit to our gun-toting bartender."
Sara looked at Nick, she could volunteer, he hated staying in the lab these days, or she could try and piece the blood evidence together and work on a computer crime scene reconstruction, she needed the practice. "Nick can go."
She smiled thinly at both men. "I've got something going here." And if Nick read that as an insult, good for him, with the right tone anything could sound unpleasant.
She could see Brass shake his head, but the detective dropped the manila folder that he had been holding on the table, and motioned for Nick to follow.
The next night, near the beginning of shift, Sara and Gil were processing the clothing that the victims had been wearing when Nick came in with some interesting news.
"Mrs. Right hasn't been into see her husband since he was admitted to Desert Palms." His statement caused the other two CSIs to look up in surprise.
Gil pushed away from his microscope. "How did you find that out?"
"Brass and I had finished visiting our gun owner, and swung by the hospital to check in on our victim. The nurse on duty says that no one has come in to visit Terrance Right, and that the only call to come in about him was from his parents in Oregon. Mrs. Right has been lying to us."
Sara nodded distractedly, "We knew that. Archie has started in on the surveillance tapes. Her two 'almost for sure' alibi spots show no footage of her."
"And what did the bartender have to say about his gun, Nick?" From the corner of his eye he could see Sara cutting out a swatch of blood stained fabric, seemingly not paying attention.
"That he knows nothing. He claims that he used to bring it in to work every night, but that it was stolen a week ago, and that he hadn't bothered to file a report. He's lying about something, but Brass doesn't think we can get a warrant."
Gil nodded. "We matched the bullets that killed Alicia to the handgun you found, and with the rest of the evidence we have, what do you think happened?"
Sara labelled the swatch, and looked up. "I'm for the wife."
"Run it then." Gil gestured for Nick to take a seat beside him and gave Sara his attention.
"Our dead victim, Alicia, was here for a conference, right? And Mrs. Right and her husband where here for a holiday. So Alicia and Terrance bump into each other in somewhere in the, and arrange to go to the lounge to have the three drinks charged to her room. Then they go up to his room to, talk, I guess. That's when the wife comes in. She starts yelling, and either or both of the other two start yelling back, which is when the guests in the next room take notice. She hits Alicia, Alicia fights back. For some reason the husband doesn't step in. Michelle takes Alicia to the ground and brings out the stolen gun. She shoots Alicia in the lower back, perhaps as a warning, and then shoots to kill. The guests next door call security. She then moves in on her husband." Sara paused. "Brass is looking to see if there have been any complaints filed against her, but I doubt there will be, how many men will admit to their wives hitting them? She beats him, he tries to escape, and she continues until she figures someone has called security and leaves."
Nick shook his head slightly. "The report the hotel gave us states that security left as soon as the call was made, after the second shot. And the statement Brass got from the callers seems to indicate the second shot came quite a bit after the first. I think that after the first shot, our suspect started in on the husband, and maybe when he tried to escape, that's when she killed Alicia."
Gil shuffled through some of the crime scene photographs, and laid out a few of the floor. "Our male vic was first injured on the bed, he then moved to the floor, near to where our female victim's body was found, and then the trail moved towards the door. I think Alicia was killed because Right tried to protect her."
Gil sat in the evidence room with Sara and Nick trying to piece all the evidence together, listening with only half an ear as Sara bemoaned the lack of DNA under their suspect's nails and the lack of fingerprints on the gun. Nick's usually calm rebuttals on how they could work around those issues sounded a little sharper than usual, but if Gil had learned anything this shift it was that trying to figure out why his two co-workers were on edge with each other only lead to the two of them throwing thinly veiled insults at each other and leaving Gil more confused than before.
When Greg walked in a slip of paper in hand Gil barely bit back a sigh of relief. "Greg, how was the conference?"
Greg smiled and shrugged. "It wasn't my first time presenting, but close enough to it that it was more never-wracking than fun. I heard you guys pulled a love triangle gone bad for a case."
From beside him Nick snorted a little. "Sort of, are you here to help?"
"Naw, there's been a suspicious car accident out on the I-15; someone is going to have to head out with me." Greg shook the paper in his hand.
From his other side Gil could feel Sara's eyes on him. And as much as he wanted to see how this case ended, something told him that going with Greg would be the best course of action. "I'll go with you. Just let me finished up some things here. I'll meet you at my truck." Greg nodded and left, giving both Sara and Nick some inscrutable look as he did.
Gil pushed away from the table and stood up. He looked down at his two CSIs, Sara wouldn't look up, but Nick gave him a nod. As he left Gil could feel the tension rising in the room behind him.
Once in Gil's SUV Greg let out a sigh of relief. "Thank god, if you had assigned one of them to work this crash with me-" He let the sentence trail off.
Gil pulled out of the parking lot. "Both Nick and Sara have worked this type of case before, and they're both excellent CSIs."
Greg snorted. "Grissom, if you had assigned one of them to work this case with me and stayed with the other at the scene, I would not want to see the bloodshed afterwards."
Gil looked over at Greg with a frown. "Why? Is either one of them unable to work with you? As your supervisor-" A short bark of laughter interrupted him. "Greg."
"Griss, can I speak freely? Without the fear of you firing me?" Greg shifted in his seat to face Gil, one leg twisted up underneath him. "Because Nick and Sara don't have a problem with me, and I'm starting to wonder if you're the only one at the lab who doesn't know what their problem is."
"Of course." But even as he said it a small kernel of fear unravelled in Gil's stomach. An affair gone bad? Or perhaps something had gone wrong on one of their cases. An image of Sara and Nick entwined in bed burned itself into his mind. Catherine and Warrick being together was one thing, the two of them were fairly level headed and very compatible, but-
Greg interrupted that thought. "Gris, I don't know what's going through your mind right now, but I can bet it's not the truth."
"Well what is the truth, Greg?" Asked Gil a bit more sharply then he intended.
Greg smiled sadly. "Keep in mind that I'm too terrified of you to lie. Sara and Nick are both in love with you."
Gil looked at his passenger incredulously. If someone had asked him five, even for years ago what he would do if two people were in love with him, he'd have laughed. If that someone had suggested that those two people would be his CSIs he wouldn't have laughed he would've thrown the person out.
But now, with Greg looking at him, not a hint of laughter in his eyes, Gil didn't know what to do. Nick and Sara. Nick and Sara. Nick and Sara. They were both very attractive in their own ways, but Gil had tried not to entertain the idea of a relationship with either of them, seriously, at all.
He'd known that Sara had carried a torch for him from time to time over the years, but he had allotted that to the loneliness that the job inevitably brought, and possibly the vestigial memory of the night they'd spent together at a conference six years ago. That was why he allowed himself to flirt with her sometimes, but when she appeared to respond in a more serious manner he always stepped back for a time. But, she actually loved him? That was a bit harder to swallow. The memory of her asking him out for dinner nagged at him, he hadn't considered it more then Sara reaffirming herself after the explosion, but maybe it had been more.
And Nick. Nicky, the man who had come to his lab fresh from Dallas and still wet behind the ears, Nicky who had thought so much of his opinion but had grown out of it. Gil had assumed – but assuming never got him anywhere. And this had to be dealt with. He'd observed the way Sara and Nick had acted together on this case. And although he encouraged a bit of friendly competition, they were very close to letting it get a bit too personal.
Glad he was sitting down, Gil shook his head. "You're sure?"
And of course Greg was sure, he would never have said anything otherwise, and Gil knew that if he had the time he'd be able to see the signs himself.
The smile on Greg's face was as sad as it had been since he got into the truck. "Grissom, sir, you can't tell me you didn't know anything about this."
"I should have, but-"
"Gris, you've given me permission to speak freely. You've got to deal with this. I mean, at least you assigned yourself to work with me on this new case, because by assigning either one of them, it would have made things worse. But you've got to talk to both of them, and soon." Greg's sad smile slid away into a frown. "And there will be at least one broken heart, most likely two. Both of them are my friends, and I don't want to see either of them hurt, but they're hurting already."
Gil sighed. "I'll find some time to talk to them both before tomorrow."
He felt unprepared when Nick and Sara found him in his office. He and Greg had arrived back from the crash site not long before, and Grissom had hoped to get around an hour of paperwork and thinking done before he had to deal with anyone.
His two investigators stood just inside the door, Sara in her usual casual pose, slight slouch, hands in pockets, Nick gripping a case file tight. Sara saw that they had gained his attention and smiled. "We found the convenience store that sold her the ammo, footage and receipts to back up the clerk's statement."
Nick nodded. "We still haven't found any gloves, but Archie has gone through every piece of footage we took, not one glimpse of her. Her alibi is shot." He grinned.
Gil knew the best piece of news would be next. He looked at Nick expectantly. "What did you find instead?"
"That the suspect was at the hotel bar for a good portion of the evening, seen sitting with the registered owner of the murder weapon." Sara spoke, drawing Gil's eyes away from Nick. He raised an eyebrow.
"And when Brass brought him in again, he changed his story a bit, but swore that he gave her an empty gun." Nick's voice had a slight twinge of annoyance in it. Gil looked back at him, hoping that this wouldn't turn into some verbal evidence tennis match. Nick continued. "So Detective Bass canvassed the local ammo selling convenience stores, and we found a clerk how recognised her photo, and also had kept the receipt of her cash purchase of a clip of 9mm bullets."
Nick then glanced over at Sara and let her finish. "Brass got a warrant, and has uniforms bringing her in right now."
Gil removed his glasses carefully and set them on the table.
"Great job you two. Nick, go sit in on the interview. Sara, before you go I'd like to have a word."
Nick nodded, all trace of a smile gone from his face, and left. Gil tried to look reassuring and offered the chair in front of his desk to Sara. She sat down looking slightly nervous.
Gil smiled a bit. "You're not in trouble; you and Nick have done a good job on this case. I don't tell you guys that very often, do I?"
"You shouldn't have to. Our work needs to speak for itself. And depending on praise is not a trait that you as a supervisor should encourage." Her cold tone shocked him a bit. But he could hear what she wasn't saying for once. 'I can pretend your approval doesn't matter, if it will make me matter more to you.'
"Actually, I wanted to talk to you about a personal matter. We can talk here, or if you want, we can go someplace else." He hoped she wouldn't want to leave, he felt much more comfortable here in his office.
"Would you like me to close the door?" She was standing up even as she asked, and Gil nodded; mind blanking on what he was going to say.
Should he try 'I found out how you feel?' because he knew that Sara had made it clear over the years that he was supposed to have known exactly how she felt. Frank honestly was probably the best way to go. "Sara, I didn't realize.
And I know I should have, but-"
Sara lifted her hand to stop him, her face twisted in a shocked expression. "Don't try to make excuses, just be very clear, no hedging, and just tell me what you are talking about."
Gil rubbed a hand over his eyes. He didn't think this was going to go well. "I was talking to Greg and-" Gil paused.
"It was brought to my attention that, well, your feelings towards me may be a lot stronger then I had realized." He looked into her eyes, trying to gauge her reaction.
The disbelief surprised him. "Greg had to tell you that I love you? No, you can't tell me that you didn't realize before."
She shook her head, and leaned forward in her chair. "Well, now you know for sure, no backing up. What are you going to do? Does it even change anything?" Gil thought he could detect a plaintive note in her voice, and wished, as he did everyday, that humans were as easy to understand as insects.
"I don't know. I'm sorry Sara."
She leant back in the chair for a moment, just looking at him, her brown eyes full of hurt, and then stood up. "Let me know when you figure things out. Maybe in five more years, okay?" He could hear the echo of a similar conversation, and this time she didn't say anything about it being to late, he didn't know if that was a good sign or not.
Gil wished he had something to say, anything, which might make things better, but he couldn't come up with anything, and she left.
They had Michelle Right in the interrogation room. She sat at the table, with some fading bruises no longer covered by make-up, her face emotionless.
Nick sat opposite of her, a uniform at his shoulder, and Brass at his side. His mind was split between how they were going to handle Mrs. Right, and wondering what was going on in the lab between Sara and Grissom. He patted the file on the table in front of him and looked at Brass.
"Mrs. Right, you told us that the night of your husband's beating, and Ms. Anderson's murder, that you were out window shopping, and doing a bit of gambling." The detective's voice was even. "But, we found no evidence to support this. Not one employee, manager or security guard can place you anywhere near where you said you were that night. Not one surveillance camera recorded you."
Nick opened the file and pulled out a few surveillance photos, and continued for Brass. "But, the hotel's night bartender recalls you chatting up the guy from the shift before him and that you two left together." He looked her in the eyes, "there is surveillance footage of that. Also, when we approached him, and gave him a free ride down here, he was quite ready to tell us about how you needed to 'borrow' his 9mm to 'scare' your husband. He told us he gave you only an empty gun."
Brass continued for Nick, tapping a finger on one of the photos. "This photo taken from a security camera, a witness statement, and a receipt, place you buying appropriate ammo for your 'friend's' gun."
Nick watched as the suspect seemed to be gearing up to call for a lawyer, and hoped they would be able to secure a confession out of her before then. "My last question is, why didn't you kill him? There is no evidence that Alicia knew you two would be in Vegas."
She sat up straighter in her chair. Her face formed angry lines, and she leaned forward a bit. "What makes you think that I didn't try and kill him? He seemed pretty close to it when I left." She put her hands on the table, lacing and unlacing her fingers. "Do you have any idea what it is like to be married to a man who is still in love with someone else? To hear him moan someone else's name in his sleep, to wonder if, for the last five years there was someone else he wanted more? Do you?"
Nick shook his head "Mrs. Right-"
"No." She interrupted him. "When he told me about this trip to Vegas, I was excited; we haven't left our home town since the honeymoon. And then, the day after we got here, guess who I see in the lobby, but little Miss Alicia. And since when she noticed me, and looked shocked, the bitch never could disguise her feelings, and I realized that Terr must have chosen the destination on purpose. I've been living in a limbo of sorts since I was sixteen, her shadow always hanging over us. Seeing her here, it was the last straw." A disturbing smile stretched across her face. "When I found them in our hotel room together, he was stunned. Just sat there, at least until I beat her to the ground and had the gun in my hand. Then he pleaded for her. Pleaded for me to spare her. Can you believe it? The bastard. He started crying before I even took a shot. But he didn't fight back after she was dead. Barely even tried to escape. The pathetic bastard. They ruined my life." Michelle sat back, the anger fading from her eyes, leaving them blank, empty.
Brass stood up, and started to read her rights. Nick closed his eyes briefly. Her lawyer would get her to plead insanity, and maybe that was the right move. But he would never be able to understand why people did the things they did, how brutal one human could be towards another. He waited until the room cleared, then put everything back into the file and stood up.
Gil found Nick in the break room, staring at the blank television. He'd already talked to Brass, heard about how Michelle Right had confessed, and had briefly reviewed over the evidence just to make sure that everything appeared to be in order. The case was over for them until the trial now. "Nick, aren't you going to head home?"
Nick didn't look away from the television, but shook his head. "In a bit, I'm just trying to finish processing my thoughts."
Gil pulled a chair over and sat next to him. "Anything that I can help with?" And yes, he needed to talk to Nick about what Greg had said, but if one of his CSIs was having troubles with a case, his priority was to help Nick to leave the case at work.
"I just can't understand how people can kill over emotions. Michelle Right, she was convinced that her husband loved some other woman, but instead of divorcing him, she kills the other woman, and tries to beat him to death? It's a mad world we live in, Gris."
Gil nodded and but didn't say anything. They both had seen far worse cases on this job, and they dealt with them. He debated as to whether or not he should postpone talking with Nick. Give himself some time to prepare, so that maybe their conversation wouldn't end as badly as the one with Sara had.
Nick looked over at him, a small frown still on his face. "Have you seen Sara? With Michelle Right confessing, the case is closed. We should let her know."
Well that took Gil's choice in postponing the matter away. He looked away from Nick, instead studying the dark television as the other man had been when Gil had come in.
"She went home. I think she might even take the few days off owed to her this time." Gil could hear Nick shifting in the seat next to him but didn't look.
"I saw Greg after the confession; he asked me if you had talked to me yet. And you know Greg; it always shows when he is uncomfortable. And here you are telling me that Sara actually went home, after you spent some time talking to her in your office after I went to the interrogation. Now, being a CSI and all, I can guess that either you said something to Greg, or he said something to you, and it had to do with Sara, and it must have had something to do with me or else Greg would be gossiping and you would be hiding in your office writing reports." Gil knew that Nick was frank and astute and acted that way when needed, but couldn't he be the easy-going cowboy when Gil was trying to order his thoughts and keep everyone from getting hurt?
He looked over at Nick and saw that he had moved to sit half facing Gil, one arm on the back of the chair, one leg half under the other. He could do this. Gil opened his mouth to speak and couldn't find the words. Nick smiles slightly, that nervous smile, with the frown moving up between his eyes.
"Come one Gris, you're not firing us, are you?"
Gil opened his mouth again, this time in slight shock. "No. Why would I do that? The two of you are excellent forensic investigators, and even Ecklie likes you."
That comment got Gil a real smile. "Well then, what? You don't usually seem to suffer from a lack of words."
Gil swallowed his misgivings; Nick deserved to have Gil be upfront with him as much as Sara did. "Greg pointed something out to me today something that is rather personal in nature, about-"
Nick smiled slightly. "Nothing is gained from making rash decisions when emotions are involved. Take some time to think, no matter what we're colleges and friends, right?" Without waiting for an answer Nick stood up and looked down at Gil, Gil floundered for something to say, Nick just shook his head, same little smile on his face, and bent quickly, kissing Gil lightly on the lips. He straightened up, a slight blush staining his cheeks. "See you around."
As Nick left the break room Gil brushed a hand across his lips. He didn't like his personal life to be messy, he didn't like to make rash decisions, and maybe he was over his head here.
A/N: Possible 'Nesting Dolls' spoiler, and there is Gil/Sara and Gil/Nick.
The diner was busy when they entered, but Catherine snagged a table next to the front window that had just been cleared. They sat down in the warm morning sunshine, ordered coffee, and managed five minutes of silence before Catherine gave into her curiosity. "Tell me."
Gil smiled a little. "Where should I start?"
"How about why you're actually are asking me for advice." She smiled back at him, belaying her harsh tone.
He took a sip of his coffee. "Did you know that Sara is in love with me?"
Catherine choked back a laugh. "Gil, everyone in the lab knows that she's in love with you, hell, you even know it some days."
Gil nodded. "Did you also realize that Nick is also in love with me?"
She didn't look surprised, she never did these days. "No, that he had a bit of a crush, yes, but- you're really getting tied up over this aren't you?"
She knew him so well. He flagged the waitress over and ordered them both the daily special. When she left he looked into Catherine's eyes. "I am, I tried to think it through on my own, to deal with it on my own, and the easiest course of action should be to tell them both that I don't feel anything for them, and hope they can deal with it."
Catherine smiled. "And we're here right now because you can never take the easy route." She tilted her head, regarding him as she might any witness or suspect in their line of work. "Not that I'm not flattered that you chose me as your confident, but why me? Is it because of Warrick?"
Gil smiled slightly, she was kind of touchy about her new relationship at times, and if Ecklie ever found out she would defend it to the ground. It was only around her friends that she got nervous, and that was why he was sitting here with her. "Not exactly, but it does mean you do know about affairs with someone younger." He winked.
Catherine reached across the table and smacked him lightly. "I'm twenty-nine and not a day older and you know it."
He laughed a little. "And you look younger, my dear." He sobered. "There is something else. Last night I-"
A frown replaced her smile, and Gil could tell that she mentally cataloguing him. "You had sex with someone last night."
"Do I have to guess, or are you going to tell me about it?" At a different time, with different people involved she would have been teasing and over drinks they would have pried details of each others sex lives out. Regretfully, this was different.
He sighed into his coffee cup, creating little ripples. "Sara. And I shouldn't have, but despite appearances I am human, and-"
"Why are we here now then?"
Because she had been sweet, and soft, and compliant, giving herself and not asking for much in return. Not overtly at least. "Because she is everything I should want, I'm everything nobody should want, and afterwards-" He couldn't seem to finish a sentence today. Gil put down his coffee cup and absently brought a hand up to brush against his lips.
Catherine narrowed her eyes slightly. "What you just did suggests longing, but your tone suggested a certain type of disenchantment with Sara's charms. Contradictory. Where does Nick fit in?"
"He kissed me. After I told him that I had found out about his feelings for me. Then he walked away." Gil noticed that he was rubbing his thumb across his lips and dropped his hand to the table.
She gave him the sad smile that he rarely was on the receiving end of. The one that said 'I sorry, but I can't really help', "Well, what is your heart saying?"
His heart, that weary neglected portion of his being. That was the problem, wasn't it? Over the years he had been careful to only pursue strong, terrifyingly intelligent individuals whose careers were as important to them as his was to him. He hadn't been in a long term relationship for at least ten years, and- had it really been that long?
Something of what he had been thinking must have shown on his face because Catherine grinned at him. "You just realized how long it's been, haven't you?"
"Yes, since Rachel, and that was only, what, eight months?"
She nodded, "And she's married with two kids and is working as a consultant in Detroit. And since then-"
"Several aborted attempts at relationships and a handful of one night stands." He could list them all, and he really didn't want to add Sara to the ranks of his emotional disasters.
"You're lonely. Is that why you slept with her? Is that why Nick is on your mind?" Catherine could be amazingly blunt when she needed to be.
"It feels complicated. More complicated then simple loneliness." And it did. Every time he tried to examine his feelings one way or another he came up to a mental wall. Both Nick and Sara were attractive to him in a way that he tried not to think about most of the time, and he was closer to both of them as friends and co-workers then he had been with any of his brief liaisons since his last real relationship. In fact, he was closer to his team, and he still considered Catherine Warrick and Nick his team, than he had been with very few people in his life. They were his family. But there was no turning back now.
Catherine let them sit in silence until their meal arrived. "If you are still unsure about where you want to go with it, sleeping with Sara was the worst thing you could have done."
Gil resisted a natural urge to cringe, and poked at his food. "I know that."
"In fact the only thing worse you could have done would have been to sleep with Nick as well."
He sighed. "I know."
They ate in silence for awhile. Then Catherine spoke up. "Well, what I think you should do is-" Which was when her pager went off. She pulled it off her purse and peered at it for a moment. "Well, dayshift appears to be swamped; they're calling us in early." She put the pager away. "We'll finish this later. Don't do anything else stupid."
Gil nodded. "I'll cover breakfast. Go on."
She smiled at him and pushed out of her chair. "It will all work out, one way or another."
The crime scene was fairly fresh, a hit and run, unusual only in that, there were two victims, an older woman and a young man who appeared to have no relation to her. Nick and Warrick were combing the intersection for evidence; Catherine had headed back to the lab with their preliminary findings, and to sit in on the autopsies
Warrick set down an evidence tag and photographed some blood spatter. "So, how did your case work out? I haven't heard much about it."
Nick looked up from where he was scooping pieces of a smashed headlight into a bindle. "The perp turned out to be the wife, she was clever, but too angry to lie when confronted."
"That's how it usually ends up in those kinds of cases. Was it fun working with Grissom and Sara again?"
Nick shrugged. "Not bad, I mean other then having Sara glare and snipe at me the entire time, having Greg tell Grissom how I feel about him, and then after listening to a confession of murder, having Grissom try and talk to me about emotions."
He looked over at Warrick to see his friend wince. "Ouch man, you okay?"
Nick smirked at that. "Fine. How where you guys with me gone?"
"Three break-ins, and a suicide; busy, but simple." Warrick photographed a piece of evidence and then slipped it into a bindle.
"Nice." Nick got up and walked over to his truck to get the tripod so that he could document the skid marks. "These tire marks are kind of odd, don't you think? It's almost like the vehicle had two different tire types."
Warrick knelt next to the marks in question. "Yeah, I see what you mean. It could make an ID difficult if we are working with a modified vehicle."
Nick looked over at the small group of people Detective Vega was interviewing. Warrick followed his gaze. "Do you know if anyone saw something we can follow up on?"
"Not yet. But someone had to have, there was an anonymous call to 911, and when the paramedics arrived the old woman was still breathing."
Warrick nodded. "Yeah, I'll head over and see how things are going. You want to take everything back to the lab?"
"Yeah, I want to get started on possibly identifying our vehicle." Nick snapped a final picture and started gathering everything up. "Besides, if you and Cath are working different angles of the case, I don't have to worry about carrying around a bucket."
"Bucket?" Warrick sounded wary.
"Yeah, to throw on you two when things start getting personal." Nick straightened up and patted Warrick on the back. "I used to have to do it when I was a kid and the dogs started at it."
Gil walked into the break room at the beginning of shift to find Greg flipping through some hopefully work related journal and Sara rolling a coin over her fingers, watching the door expectantly. "I have the assignments." Greg looked up, and Sara nodded, smiling. "Sara, you're on a possible body dump at this address," He handed the assignment slip to her. "And Greg, you're with me." He motioned the young CSI to follow him.
Sara looked up from the assignment sheet in her hands. "What do you to have?"
"A possible double homicide. We'll know more when we get there."
She nodded a small frown on her face, and Gil and Greg left. They were heading out to Gil's truck when Greg gave into his curiosity. "Double homicide?"
"Possible murder-suicide according to Brass."
"Huh, another first for me tonight then."
At the scene Brass was speaking to the paramedics. Greg hopped out of Gil's Tahoe, evidence kit in hand, and after shifting into park and turning off the truck Gil followed. He didn't think he had even been as young and eager as Greg.
Gil met Brass' eye, and got the nod which meant everything was good to go. "Come on Greg." They entered through the front door, Gil keeping close to the wall, eyes on the carpet; he put a hand back to make sure Greg was doing the same. "If it was a double murder we don't want to compromise any possible prints left behind by the murderer." He heard a rustle that meant Greg had nodded, they walked carefully along the hall, peering into rooms that they would process later, until they came to a large open living room off of the kitchen. A man lay sprawled on a leather loveseat, shot in the forehead, and in a chair across from him was the body of a woman, a handgun on the floor at her limp fingertips.
Gil looked over at Greg, pleased to see the assessing gaze that was a must have in all CSIs. "Where do we start?"
He saw Greg make a quicker, more nervous survey of the room. "Well, the coroner has already been in to pronounce. So we start with each victim and work our way outwards."
Gil smiled. "Good idea, let's get to work."
As they processed the scene, Gil kept one eye on Greg, carefully pointing out things that he thought the young CSI might like to know, or pointing out something Greg may have otherwise missed. To Gil it was as close to a textbook case as he had ever seen. What was a mystery was why, as it always was, but he knew that the evidence would tell them. They finished up their preliminary relatively quickly, calling in David to collect the bodies for autopsy.
Gil stood up from where he had been kneeling next to the male victim, and picked up his kit. "Come on Greg, time to take a quick break and look around the rest of the house."
Greg nodded and took out his flashlight. "Top to bottom or bottom to top?"
"We're already on the ground floor." Gil tried to look like he wasn't criticizing; he owed Greg a milder supervisor after the younger man had managed to survive a personal conversation with Gil. Unfortunately Greg didn't look reassured. "Unless you'd like to start upstairs?"
"No, that's alright." Greg walked over to the kitchen and started making sweeps with his light.
They went though the house slowly, taking their time, Gil making an effort to not just lecture, but to ask for Greg's observation's first, then add his own thoughts which were backed by more years of experience that he wanted to think about. By the time they made it to the last two rooms on the top floor, Gil had already run through what they had found in the living room several times, and was ready to head back down and see if there was anything they had missed. He opened the door to what he assumed was the master bedroom and the only thing that caught his eye was the small collection of empty drinking glasses on one of the bedside tables. Their dead couple had been thirsty.
He was just about to suggest that they head back down to the primary crime scene when Greg spoke up from the last room. "Gris, you might like to see this." Gil walked back to the bathroom, and peered over Greg's shoulder.
Greg's flashlight was trained on a body in the bathtub, female with slit wrists, and very dead. Gil twisted to look down the hallway. "David you need to come up here."
The possible dead body had turned out to be a disturbingly real mannequin, and had left Sara at loose ends. She walked briskly towards Grissom's office, hoping that he and Greg wouldn't be back from their scene yet, and she could just call and head over. One of the techs had mentioned that the double had turned into a triple.
Sure enough, Grissom's office was empty, and a quick look around the lab did not turn up either of her team mates, so Sara pulled out her phone and dialled, leaning against a nearby wall, and shifting her hips just to enjoy the slight ache of a morning after a well spent night before.
"Grissom." He sounded a bit hassled; Sara wondered if Ecklie or the sheriff had shown up at the scene.
"Hey Gris, its Sara, it was a false alarm. Want me to head over?" She felt her lips move into a smile, it felt so nice to talk to him, even over the phone.
"No, that's alright. Greg and I have it covered. You could close up the Eriksson case though." Sara's smile slipped away, three dead bodies and here she was being assigned to paperwork.
"Alright, I'll see you back at the lab." She bit back an urge to close with 'I love you' and ended the call.
She walked back the way she came and went into the lab which held the evidence from the gunshot victim who had come in the shift before. The shift in which after, Grissom had asked her to breakfast, to apparently make up for the way he had dealt with the unavoidable knowledge of her feelings for him. And when she had asked if he wanted to go to her place for coffee, he had said yes.
Sara let her body run on autopilot, ordering the evidence to create a log, sitting down at the computer to burn the simulations onto a disk, and let the rest of the day run through her mind.
He had barely closed the door to her apartment behind him before she kissed him. And he had responded, hadn't pushed her away, just wrapped his arms around her and gave as good as he got. If she had had her way they wouldn't have made it to the bedroom, but he had steered them gently, and when he removed their clothes and started mapping her body with warm lips and questing fingers, she appreciated the effort. Afterwards, wrapped in his arms, sweaty and sated she had allowed herself, for the first time in years, to open up her dreams of the perfect relationship that she was sure the two of them would share.
Now, sitting here, stuck doing paperwork, her usual plethora of fears and insecurities related to Grissom came up again. Had she disappointed him? Was she not enough? What had she done wrong? It was hard for her to believe that he would let his feelings towards her spill out into their working relationship. It could be something about the case he was working, something like that one case where the victim had looked a little bit like her, and maybe he was protecting her. A small smile formed on her lips, she didn't appreciate the protecting, but she did appreciate the thought.
She saved her work on the report and stood up. Some of the techs would know more about what was going on then she did.
"We found a vehicle ID." Nick held a slender file in one hand. "Vega has someone bringing it in right now."
Catherine looked up from a file, a smile slowly filling her face. "That's great." She indicated an empty chair next to her. "Come sit with me while we wait for it." She paused, and held up a hand. "Wait, grab us some coffee first."
Nick dropped the file on her desk. "Sure thing, boss." He walked over to the break room, slowly, exchanging greetings with everyone along the way, and offered coffee to most of them. If Catherine wasn't in a hurry then neither was he.
When he got back she had most of the evidence from the case spread across the desk. He handed her a coffee, and sat down another in his hands. "Are we going to wait for Warrick?"
Catherine took a sip and shook her head. "He has a court appearance in the morning, so I sent him home." She pushed a photo of the tire treads towards him. "Tell me how you two figured the car out."
Nick grinned, she was much more laid back then Grissom ever had been. "Well, from the bystanders descriptions and the treads we picked up we ran a search for a black modified sedan. We didn't pick up much, but then we headed out with a description to a couple of the local chop shops asking about who would do that kind of work, found the shop, talked to the owner, and here we are waiting for the vehicle in question to be brought in."
Catherine nodded. "Waiting, so much of this job is waiting. And reports. My paperwork has tripled since I became supervisor." She smiled and put down her coffee and leaned forward, chin resting on steepled fingers. "Now that we have that out of the way, tell me about what's going on with you and Grissom."
Nick barely refrained from spitting a mouthful of coffee across the table. "What?"
"Come on, I've been dying for some gossip lately, well, for the sort that doesn't come from Hodges."
"Yeah, what is our beloved trace tech up to these days?" It wasn't a subtle distraction tactic, but Catherine knew enough about him that she didn't need more ammo on him beneath her belt.
"A lot of talk, not a lot of action. Makes me miss Greg."
"No trying to distract me."
"If I talk does that mean you'll tell me about you and Warrick?"
She winked at him. "Maybe, depends on how good the gossip is."
"Too bad, because there is nothing to tell."
"Really?" Her eyebrows raised in disbelief. "You had yourself assigned to a case with Grissom and Sara, and walked away the same? I'd think the scratch marks from at least one cat fight would be showing."
Nick chuckled. "It was fine." He narrowed his eyes a little. "Wait, have you been talking to Warrick?"
Catherine became innocence personified. "Me? Why would I talk to him? All I do with Warrick is-"
"Never mind, I give up."
Catherine grinned. "Good. Now tell." She glanced up behind him to the clock on the wall. "We've got at least three quarters of an hour. Make it nice and detailed."
"Nothing to tell, although, you and Warrick may be taking second string in the most anticipated office romance pool."
"Why?" The look on her face told Nick that she knew more than she was letting on, but he continued anyway.
"Given the conversation Grissom and I had at the end of the Right case, and the smug look Sara sent my way tonight, leads me to assume that she has finally caught him."
Catherine smirked. "You know what assuming does."
"What?" He was interrupted by his pager going off, and he pulled it off his belt to see who it was. "Towing delivered our vehicle."
Catherine pushed away from her desk and got up. "Already? Well then, I guess we'll have to postpone the rest of this conversation."
"Thank goodness." Nick got up and opened the office door for her.
She smacked him lightly. "Hey."
Greg was walking back from a very enlightening interview with parents of the three cohabiting deceased when he saw Sara, face cold and set, walk out of one of the labs and into the evidence room that he and Grissom had taken over for their case. She slammed the door behind her.
Torn between hightailing it, explosions of any sort made him wary, and trying to see what was going on, he stood in the hall and saw Sara lean forward across Grissom's desk, posture tight and angry. Grissom leant back in his chair, his face going from bland to annoyed, brows lowering, lips pinching. Greg knew that look fairly well.
He watched as Sara straightened and spread her arms, and felt someone move to stand beside him. "What's going on?" It was Bobby from ballistics, which meant that everyone else from this wing was probably standing around as well.
Greg shrugged but didn't look away, Grissom was pushing away from his desk and standing up, Greg could hear muffled words now, the two of them were obviously shouting. And then Grissom walked around his desk and to the door of his office, not looking at the growing crowd of spectators, but at Sara. He opened the door and Greg could finally hear what was being said.
"-at work right now. Do you know what that means? You leave your personal life at home, and concentrate on the job." Uh oh. This didn't bode well for Sara, she was gaining a bad reputation for insubordination, and if she wasn't careful there wouldn't be any choice but for her to quit or be fired. And Greg didn't want that, first of all she was his friend, and second she was a great criminalist who didn't really deserve a black mark on her record.
"If that is how it works, then let me work on the case." Maybe she might, a little.
"Sara. The door is open, we have witnesses, and I'm giving you a choice to avoid embarrassment or an official reprimand. I'm not assigning you to this case because of previously discussed reasons, which you obviously haven't resolved yet. Either go home, and come back for tomorrow's shift, or tell me that you can continue working tonight and can take the mugging that just came in."
Sara didn't say anything for too long a time, and Greg took a few tentative steps towards the door, hoping to interrupt before Assistant Director Ecklie showed up.
"Let me go in first Sanders." And he was too late. Greg stood to the side, a feeling of helplessness sinking in, as Ecklie walked in and broke Grissom and Sara's glaring contest. "Would you to like to tell me why you have decided to disturb the entire lab?"
Greg caught Grissom's eye from behind Ecklie and had up the transcripts, then pointed down the hall. He would hide in the lab they had commandeered for the case until this all blew over. And hope to hell that the damage wasn't irreparable.
"Would you to like to tell me why you have decided to disturb the entire lab?" The anger in Ecklie's voice was nearly palatable. Gil supposed it was warranted, the last time Sara had caused a disturbance, he had told Ecklie that he would take care of it, and obviously he hadn't. Both of their jobs would be on the line now.
"Sara just needed me to explain my justifications as to why she was not assigned to the case the Greg and I are currently working on." Gil kept his voice mild and his eyes on Sara, hoping that she would keep quiet.
Ecklie stepped inside Gil's office and closed the door. "And was your explanation satisfactory?"
Sara stayed silent.
"Well?" Ecklie's face was going an interesting shade of red. Gil idly wondered what the man's blood pressure was like, but shook it off in the very real possibility of an immediate dismissal.
"We sorted it out."
Sara shook her head.
"Do you have something do add Ms. Sidle?"
"Good. I'll be adding this incident to both of your files. I think that makes it two strikes. And Ms. Sidle, I might be expecting a shift change if I were you."
Gil noticed the anger vanish from her face, replaced by surprise, a brief flash of happiness, before settling back into a fair facsimile of the anger that had coloured it before. He hoped that she didn't think that a transfer to another shift would change anything.
Ecklie shook his head. "I have no idea how you people have kept your jobs this long." Obviously he had interpreted Sara's facial expressions the same way Gil had.
"Is that all?"
"For now." He watched Ecklie exit his office and stalk back down the hall. The man fancied himself a predator, but he reminded Gil much more of a scavenger. He turned back to Sara. "Come with me. We're going to take a bit of a walk." She looked like she wanted to protest, sullen anger still clouding her features. He held up a hand. "This isn't negotiable."
She followed him down the hall and out of the lab, Gil carefully didn't look at the various employees who were still more interested in the most recent inter-office blow-up then their jobs, and when they got to the lobby he held the door open for her.
"If the rest of that sentence is not going to explain your behaviour, I don't want to hear it. Ecklie nearly fired the both of us, and it would have been within his rights." He felt like some sort of parent when he spoke like that. This was slightly disturbing, considering the recent change in their relationship.
She was silent for a moment. "After everything that has happened, that's what you have to say?"
Gil wanted to shout at her, to point out that this was why he hadn't started anything before, that she wasn't able to keep her personal life and work life separate. You just had to look at her relationship with that paramedic to know that. But he didn't. "Sara, I would have been a bad supervisor if I let you work this case."
"You wouldn't have known why I shouldn't work the case if you were just my supervisor."
He really wished he didn't have to do this. "Perhaps that is the problem."
"It's not going to work out is it?" Her voice caught a bit on the last word.
"I don't think so."
"So, that's it?" Gil tried not to see the tears gathering in her eyes.
"No, I know what you're going to say 'You're a great CSI' or 'You are a part of the team', well Grissom, maybe I didn't want to be 'part of the team' I want to be part of a team with you. I love my job, and I've made some great friends in Vegas, but maybe it's time for me to move on." She attempted to smile. "Ecklie will be changing my shift anyway, I'll start with that." She reached up to touch his face briefly. "I'll take the mugging." She dropped her hand and turned away.
Gil watched her walk back into the building, head held high, posture perfect, and he didn't feel the sense of loss that he had been expecting. He followed her, slowly, they had the rest of shift to get through, a case to solve, and he had to get his emotions straightened out.
As he pulled open the doors to the lobby, Gil realized that Greg would still be waiting to show him something case-related, and that the young CSI was going to be suitably unimpressed with Gil's explanation. He would apologise, or something. Although, it would be easier to give Greg most of the story, so that he could he ahead in the gossip polls.
Greg waited in the lab for ten minutes before getting edgy. He had watched the techs and other assorted personnel drift back to their places of work, and had known that Ecklie had finished being a black cloud of doom, and since no one had come in to talk to him, it was likely that Grissom and Sara were still members of the Las Vegas police department.
He put the finishing touches on his report of the interview, and debated calling up Brass to make sure that both their reports matched. That might be embarrassing, although not as embarrassing as having someone reviewing the case notice discrepancies. Greg flipped his phone open and closed a few times, and nearly jumped when Grissom walked in.
"Greg, you had something to show me?"
Greg looked up, Grissom looked, fine, if not a little tired, but that was usual. "Yeah, Brass and I interviewed the parents."
"Whose parents? Nicholson's, Williams', or Lee's." Grissom sat down on the edge of the table.
"All three sets, actually. They're trying to arrange a joint funeral." And it had been hard watching Mrs. Williams cry silently and even harder to see the disgust in Mr. Nicholson's eyes when he spoke of his daughter's living arrangements.
"So, the three were indeed in a relationship?"
"Yes, and from all accounts, the parents and her medical records, ZoŽ Nicholson suffered from clinical depression, and when she got low she became suicidal." Greg could see Mrs. Lee in his mind's eye, telling him about how she would spend time with ZoŽ when the young woman couldn't work, and he could also see the scowls on the Nicholson's faces, how much they had disliked their daughter's lifestyle, and that everyone else seemed okay with it.
"And she finally was successful. The coroner's final report states that her wounds were self-inflicted and her death has been ruled a suicide." Grissom tilted his head to look at Greg's transcription of the interview. "You think you know why, don't you?" His tone was mild, inquisitive, so Greg nodded.
"According to the William's and Mrs. Lee, their children were very much in love, and happy. The Nicholson's on the other hand, weren't so accepting." Greg flashed back for a moment, hearing Mrs. Lee speak 'We understand, even if it's hard to believe are children are gone, they were each other's lives.' He shook it off.
"And their daughter committed suicide. Our society puts such pressure on those within it."
Greg winced; he could imagine Megan Lee and David Williams coming home, laughing and happy perhaps, and going upstairs to find ZoŽ's body. He couldn't imagine how it would hurt to lose a loved one like that, but he could see David arranging himself on the loveseat, looking Megan in the eye, his body collapsing after the shot, and Megan's tearstained face as she brought the gun to her head.
He opened his eyes to see Grissom looking at him with empathy in his eyes. "Cases of passion can be the most difficult for us to comprehend. Our choice of career doesn't necessarily lend itself to attracting the most open and loving of individuals."
Greg looked at the transcript in front of him and sighed, he wasn't meant to say personal things to his boss. "Grissom, you know that thing we talked about a couple of days ago? If there is any part of you that returns the feelings of either of them, even a little bit, you owe to them, and yourself to do something about it." Greg tried to dampen his blush reflex. "In our line of work we know how easy a life can slip away."
Grissom nodded, looking as serious as he did at his worst moments.
The sun was nearly directly overhead by the time Gil made it to Nick's apartment. There was not much time before swing shift started, not if Gil actually had to talk about his feelings. But he ignored the part of him that wanted to wait for another day, maybe one that they both had off, perhaps in the next decade, and listened to the 'Catherine' part of him that told him to deal with things now, before they went bad.
Nick answered on the first knock, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt looking like he was about to head out for a run. "Hey Gris, is something wrong?" His brown eyes seemed to take in everything at that moment. Gil could almost feel the lines around his eyes being measured.
"No, nothing. I was wondering if we could talk." Hypersensitive now, Gil wondered if Nick could hear a slight hoarseness in his voice from shouting.
Smiling a bit Nick opened the door wider, and motioned Gil inside. "Well come in then. I've got coffee. Just tell me the conversation isn't going to be as embarrassing as our last one. I was blushing for like an hour afterwards."
Gil bit back a natural urge to return the banter, knowing that if he did the conversation would end up going nowhere and he would be left no closer to Nick than before. Taking a seat at the end of the couch that was offered, he threw out any hope of being able to go with a pre-planned speech. Looking Nick in the eyes, he opened his mouth to start talking. Then he shut it again, and shrugged.
Nick sat down next to him, his brown eyes filled with compassion, but he didn't say anything. So Gil tried again. "I've screwed up a lot over the years, but I think I would like to try again with you."
"Gris-Gil." Gil smiled a little bit, and Nick grinned back at him. "If you seriously think this is a good idea, I'm all for it. But I'm not the kind of guy who does casual." He moved a bit closer. "But I would be lying if I said that I've never thought about us, together, and it would take a man much stronger than I am to even contemplate saying no to you."
Resisting the urge to reach out and close the remaining gap between the two of them Gil, nodded and spoke. "Is that a yes?"
"It's a 'yes' if we take it slow. I'm not going to let you hurt me if it is in my power to stop it, and I don't want to turn into another Sara."
Gil had the wherewithal to wince, but slid closer to Nick, their thighs touching. "Thank you."
"No problem." And then Nick leant forward enough to brush his lips against Gil's. "No problem at all." Nick murmured against his mouth. And Gil wrapped a cautious arm around the other man and sealed the kiss.
It was more than he could have hoped. Nick was solid and warm in his arms, easily keeping the kiss gentle and slow, and yet not chaste at all. Gil carefully pulled Nick's lower lip between his own, tasting, and shuddered at the small sound Nick let out. Then Nick put his hand on the back of Gil's neck and deepened the kiss, opening his mouth and running his tongue lightly across Gil's upper lip. Gil lost himself in it, the taste, the push of tongue against tongue, they way Nick's hands tightened on Gil every time their lips parted briefly, and the electric shivers that began to radiate out from his lips and down his spine.
A watch beeper went off some inestimable time later and they drew apart. Nick smiled. "That means I have to get ready for work." He leant forwards to kiss Gil again briefly. "You made me miss my run."
"Sorry." But he wasn't and he knew that Nick wasn't either.
"Yeah right. You should head home for some sleep."
Nick was smiling, and Gil smiled back. "Good idea."
He stood up, and Nick did as well. "I'll walk you to the door." They walked slowly, and Gil basked in the proximity of Nick. When Nick reached around him to open the door, Gil stole another kiss, putting all of his turbulent emotions into it. Nick responded, and Gil could feel something inside of him dethawing. When they pulled apart they both were kiss flushed and happy.
"Could I call you about perhaps having dinner one evening?" He reached out and brushed a hand against Nick's cheek.
Nick leant into his hand a little. "That would be nice. I'm due for a day off Saturday, you?"
"It can be arranged." Gil removed his hand and stepped backwards out the door. "Have a good shift."
"Thanks." As Nick closed the door, and Gil turned to walk to his truck, he couldn't help but think that something good had begun.
Catherine slid into the booth across from him and glared at him accusingly. "You're smiling."
"I am." Gil could feel his smile widen.
"Are you going to tell me what happened?"
"After we order." Gil looked up at their waiter. "Two of the daily specials, please."
"And coffee." As soon as the waiter left, Catherine resumed her glare. "You're smiling."
"You already said that." He let her stew for a moment until their coffee arrived. "I believe that I have solved that issue I had asked you for advice on."
She leant forward, always eager to pry something of his personal life out of him, "Really? And I take it you're fully satisfied?"
She coked back a laugh. "I don't really need the details behind that tone of voice."
"What, the one you've been sporting for the last month and a half?"
"Yes, that one. Are you going to tell me what happened? You did ask me for advice after all."
"Advice of which I received very little." Gil sighed, his smile slipping a little. "I'll start with the less cheerful part first. Sara, it's over, if it was ever anything to begin with."
"Oh, Gil, I heard about it from Greg." Catherine reached across the table to lay a hand on his arm. "It'll get better. How about the happy part?"
"Nick." Gil felt his smile return.
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