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 na´ve 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.
Summary: A case of passion, some temporary team reshufflings, a few emotional revelations, and enough jealousy and unrequited love to satisfy a teenager.