Rating: PG, just to make it sound racier than it is.
Archive: Please ask first I might say yes.
Disclaimer: Insert random legal mumbo-jumbo here.
Author's Note: Thanks to Mossley for betaing, but more importantly, for pushing, pulling, teasing, cajoling, and any other verb you care to use that means she enticed me to finish it.
Summary: Sara's mentoring Greg on an unusual case.
"Enough levity. It's time to get to work, people," Grissom said forcefully, snapping the pall of silence that had fallen over the room. The group visibly straightened in their chairs, assuming a more professional demeanor. "How's your case going, Sara?"
Instead of answering, she looked over to Greg and raised her eyebrows, indicating that she was handing off the responsibility of reporting on their progress to him.
Even as a seasoned DNA Analyst, Greg had sometimes felt nervous when reporting to the group as a whole. Normally, it translated into fidgeting that looked more like hyperactivity than nerves. And DNA was a field that he felt mastery over. He felt tonight much like he had years ago when he was new to the lab, with butterflies wildly propagating in his stomach.
"We're working on it," was the extent of his report, even after taking a few seconds to attempt to collect his thoughts. It didn't make it any easier that all eyes were on him.
Sara could have jumped in to provide the particulars, but she didn't feel that rescuing Greg from his nerves would be constructive in the long run.
"Have you made any progress whatsoever?" Grissom asked coolly.
"Well, sort of. We found the weapon right off, a Desert Eagle Mark XIX. Fifty caliber. It could be a murder, I guess, but we can't find any evidence that anyone else was ever in the room. Until the cops and the EMTs came, that is."
"Suicide?" Catherine coached, then looked over to Sara for any clues that she could read from her body language, finding her pale face an impenetrable wall.
"Might be, I guess. But there are some... uh... inconsistencies, I guess you'd call them."
"Like?" Grissom drawled, attempting to elicit more clarity from the rookie.
"Position of the body relative to the weapon. TV was on. No suicide note. No typical pre-suicide activity, like cleaning, paying bills. Stuff like that."
Inside, Sara grimaced, remembering what it was like to be new and be in the spotlight, forgetting even the most basic professional jargon.
"There are only three conclusive manners of unnatural death. What are they?" Grissom asked.
"Homicide, suicide and accident," Greg answered, feeling like he was being given an oral exam in front of upperclassmen who knew the material much better than he did.
"If it isn't a homicide, and it isn't a suicide, then it must be an accident. Like Sherlock Holmes said, once you eliminate all the possibilities, whatever's left is the answer, regardless of how impossible it may seem," Grissom stated, his eyes fixed on Greg. "So, was it an accident?"
"We considered an accident, like a gun-cleaning accident. But the evidence doesn't fit that theory very well, either. Like there wasn't any gun-cleaning paraphernalia around, and there were no fresh prints on the gun, like it hadn't been handled at all that day. There wasn't any GSR on the body, and guns don't usually just shoot all by themselves."
"Then it was murder," Warrick suggested.
"The angles are kinda weird for that. The killer would have to be lying on the floor on the other side of the bed, shooting upward while the victim sat still at the end of the bed, watching TV."
"That's possible," Nick pitched in. "He might have been hiding over there, just waiting for a chance to shoot the vic."
"Yeah, I guess so. But if that happened, then either the bad guy was wearing a space suit, or Locard's Principle doesn't work, 'cause there wasn't so much as a hair, fiber, or skin cell on the floor that didn't belong to the victim or the cat. Plus there was no forced entry, or any sign that another human being had ever been in that house. Just the DB and his psycho kitty."
Grissom slowly shifted his eyes over to Sara, narrowing them down to a contemplative squint as he absently scratched at his beard. She sat impassively, with little expression other than one raised eyebrow. Without saying a word, he felt that she was clearly issuing a challenge to anyone who might think that she and Greg hadn't already explored all the possibilities.
"Sara, do you have anything to report that Greg has overlooked?" he finally asked.
"No," she stated simply.
"So you're stalled?"
"No. We're working it. Greg has evidence in Trace and in DNA."
Sara still had some ancient primal memory of the first time someone showed confidence in her as a new CSI. It was mere symbolism, of course, but it was very meaningful at the time. In her mind, this was Greg's case, not hers.
"Greg has evidence?" Catherine questioned, tilting her head as if there was some part of her that couldn't compute Sara giving the case over to a newbie.
"Yes, Greg. I'm there as a resource, to monitor and mentor. Greg's doing the actual work. I think that's the best way for him to learn."
"On a murder? You set 'em loose on a bar fight or a stolen car or a burglary. Not on a murder."
"No one's said this is a murder," Sara reiterated.
"Well, it's still a dead guy. I think you might be throwing him into deeper water than he can deal with so soon," Catherine said, her focus on Sara. The two women locked onto each other, and the sensation of others in the room faded for both of them.
"I think you aren't giving either one of us enough credit. Greg's doing a good job working the case, and I think I'm doing a good job with Greg. But if you don't agree, you can certainly take it up with my supervisor."
Catherine held up both hands in surrender, though her face showed that she was nowhere near capitulating. It was obvious that she was storing up an "I told you so" for future use.
"Hey, your name is on the case as primary, no matter who's working it. It's your ass on the line, not mine," Catherine avowed.
"Finally something we can agree on," Sara said acerbically.
After a few moments of prolonged eye contact, they broke off from each other, allowing the others in the room to exist again in their realities.
Sensing that he should gain control over the meeting before another tiff could ensue, Grissom began running through where they were on his serial murderer case. Since Sara was in these meetings, he was careful to review mainly the physical evidence, not sharing the crime scene photos. For the others in the group, they were unnecessary; for Sara and Greg, Grissom felt they would be unnecessarily disturbing, considering that they weren't on the case.
Each of the four CSIs assigned to the serial stated what evidence they had collected, and where it was in the sometimes slow, cumbersome processing in the various labs. Evidence wasn't released to transfer to other departments at the Crime Lab until it had been thoroughly processed in the current department. It was necessary for Chain-of-Custody reasons, but it could be frustratingly slow.
There were times when a crime was considered so time-sensitive that those rules were circumvented, such as in an abduction, but they were rare because while "cheating" on the procedures might help the police locate a missing person faster, it could seriously jeopardize the state's ability to successfully prosecute the perpetrator.
After seven victims, each of the four investigators had a mound of evidence flowing through the various departments. Much of their time was now spent keeping up with where each piece was, and whether there was anything definitive found at each stop.
Until they could find a full-time replacement who was able to stick with Greg's old job in the DNA Lab, he would be one of the hardest working men in America, holding down two jobs that each tended to be well beyond 40 hours a week.
It was now his turn to report on where he was with the seven sets of DNA samples submitted for the serial murders.
"You know, it doesn't make it any easier that he picked call girls. It's not that I'm not getting DNA, it's that I'm getting too much DNA. Usually mixed samples are just two sets of DNA, and it can be hard enough to separate those, unless the two donors are different genders. I can pick out the victim's DNA on all your samples, but there are multiple male donors for each."
"I grasp the complexity of DNA analysis, Greg, but I still need to know if you've found anything we can use," Grissom stated with some frustration, not so much with Greg as it was with the futility he was starting to feel.
"I've put all the samples back through using RFLP, to get more data points. As you well know, that process is much slower than the usual PCR process. It could be weeks until we get definitive results."
"And in two or three weeks, how many more women will die?" Catherine asked no one in particular.
"I'm doing the best I can," Greg said, his exhaustion beginning to show.
"I know that," Catherine said, forcing a smile. "I'm just frustrated. Not at you... At the psycho behind all this."
"Greg, perhaps you should concentrate on the DNA analysis of the serial murders, and let Sara complete your DB investigation," Grissom stated.
"I can do both. Really, Grissom. It's not like I'm in those test tubes, manually breaking apart chromosomes with my bare hands. I've done my part on the RFLP; the rest just sort of happens by itself, until it's time to analyze the results. That's not for a few weeks. I promise I'll have this other thing done by then."
"You 'promise' to have the other thing done? Don't make promises you might not be able to keep, Greg," Catherine advised.
"I'm pretty sure I already know what happened on my case. I'm waiting on all the evidence to be processed, to see if my hypothesis is right."
"You didn't sound like you had it solved when we were talking about it earlier," Warrick said, his voice low and smooth, taking any challenge out of the tone.
"I want to be sure of my facts before I present a conclusion," Greg replied, shrugging.
"I think that's wise, under the circumstances," Sara added, effectively ending the discussion. She didn't elaborate on what she considered 'the circumstances.' They'd find out soon enough.
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