Rating: PG to be on the safe side.
Spoilers: Spoilers for Unfriendly Skies.
Archive: Please ask first!
Disclaimer: If I had even a fraction of a percent of the rights to CSI would I be writing fan fiction? Well, yeah, probably, but that doesn't change the fact I own nothing to do with the show.
Author's Note: Probably a good idea to read Poetic Injustice first, but I think you can follow this story if you don't. Thanks to Burked and Ann for beta-ing this chapter.
Summary: A sequel to Poetic Injustice. A bit of fluff - Sara and Grissom want to repair their friendship. Greg wants Sara. Ecklie wants the Red Creeper. Catherine wants a night off. And a mystery man from Sara's past is back.
Shift was nearly over when Sara entered the DNA lab, smiling at the sight that was before her. Behind his bench, Greg's bumptious bum bounced boisterously to the brash beat being blared by the brassy boy's battered boom box.
She started singing with the chorus, picking up the CD case before hopping on a stool. Greg jumped around quickly and swore silently. His carefully practiced look of surprise had been wasted; Sara hadn't been watching him.
"You like those?" he asked, trying to buy some time. His previously thought out strategy was starting to look as viable as a frog surviving a biology lab at the Marquis DeSade High School for Demented Youths.
Chess was a game of maneuvering one opponent into the position you wanted. He shook his head as images of the positions he wanted Sara floated through his mind. He needed to concentrate. Someone else was trying to hop on board and put the moves on his Sara. This Ken guy had even resorted to biological warfare - he'd sent roses. Now wasn't the time to be timid.
"Yeah. I love all these songs."
"Well, then, my sweet, this is for you," Greg said dramatically as he pulled the CD from the player.
"You don't have to do that."
"It's no trouble. Consider it my 'thank you' for the great time we had."
Sara cocked her head to give him a baffled look. "When did we have a great time?"
"On our da... when we went out for coffee during break."
"Oh. That," she said, giving him an odd look. "Uh. Okay. Sweet."
"Yes, I am. Want to find out how sweet?"
Greg turned back to his monitor quickly. That had been the wrong thing to say. The look Sara was giving him made the tech worry about the safety of Roscoe and the twins.
"You page me for a reason, Greggo?"
"Ah, yes, I did. This is for you, too" he said, quickly handing her a printout. "There was a hit on CODIS. Hope that helps your case."
"Oh, yeah. Creep said he'd never been near the house before."
"Good, good," he said, chewing his lip nervously. He needed to make a recovery.
"You going to kill me over that crack?"
"In that case, let me get you breakfast. Show there's no hard feelings."
"I, uh, already have plans."
"Well, why don't you come over to my place sometime? I have a great music collection. Stuff you'd actually like to listen to. Nothing like opera. I could fix us a nice manicotti, chill some wine..."
Greg paused as his mind registered the clopping sound that had been approaching. Turning his head, he found Grissom balancing on his crutches as he pulled some evidence bags from his jacket pocket.
"These get top priority," Grissom said dryly. "If you can fit it into your social schedule."
"I'll get right on it."
"That's probably a good idea," he said, turning to look at Sara with an eyebrow raised quizzically.
"Thanks for the CD, Greg."
"No problem," he sighed as Sara followed Grissom out of his lab.
Catherine closed her eyes against the cacophony of sound that was assaulting her. She was trying to dust the cash register in the motel lobby. The room was two-storied, with an open loft that was currently filled with irate customers.
Outside, the rescue crew was using a pneumatic hammer to chip away the concrete to expose the pool's intake pipe. Even though they had tossed blankets over Rubin to protect him from flying cement, Catherine swore she could still hear his moaning.
She sighed as she went back to work. They were cutting the pipe well away from the edge of the pool. If Rubin were in any danger of getting cut at that distance, he'd have made a fortune in the adult film industry.
Catherine paused in her work to glare at a retiree shaking his cane threateningly from the loft. He'd have been more imposing if he hadn't been wearing hot pink pajamas emblazoned with "Sexy Senior Stud".
"You talking to me?"
"You see any other chickies down there?"
"With or without a gun?"
"My name is Catherine Willows. I'm a level-three criminalist."
"Didn't they have anyone first-rate to send?"
"What can I do for you?" she asked, deciding not to waste her time correcting his misperceptions.
"You going to refund our money, Level-three Chickie Willows?"
"You're keeping us awake! We paid to sleep. We want out money back."
"Sorry," she said as she gathered the last of her evidence and pointed to the empty cash register. "Money's all gone."
"This isn't fair!"
"You have no idea," Catherine agreed.
"I'm going to complain to your supervisor."
"I'm the only Chickie Willows on staff. He'll know who you mean."
Heading outside, she found the rescue crew had exposed the pipe and cut it. A pair of them were in the water helping Rubin back up as another fireman was pulling out the two-foot section of pipe in which the clerk was still stuck.
After getting him out of the pool - much to the amusement of the crowd that had given up on sleeping and decided to catch a show only Vegas could offer - the rescue crew wrapped him in blankets.
"It feels so good to get out of the water," Rubin said with a blush. The multiple blankets did nothing to hide the pipe.
"You'll feel better once we get that pipe off," said a fireman who was approaching with a hacksaw.
"What are you going to do with that?"
"You're really, uhh, wedged in there. We have to cut the pipe in half lengthwise to get you out."
"No!" he shrieked. "What if you cut too far?"
"Well sir, the only other option is to take you to the hospital..."
"... where the doctor will drain the blood by inserting a large-bore needle..."
Catherine growled as Rubin grabbed her hand desperately.
"Can't you do something?"
"What do you expect me to do?"
"I don't know. Maybe if you..."
"Don't even think about it buddy," Catherine said, shooting a warning look at a chortling deputy. She was going to kill Gil when she got back to the lab.
At the end of shift, Sara darted into the locker room to grab her bag. She'd spent part of the night dumpster-diving and needed to head home for a shower and change of clothes before meeting Grissom at the trade show.
More importantly, she needed to swing by the drug store. Things were getting heated between them, and she didn't want to ruin the eventual moment because they weren't prepared.
"Sara, I have to admit you surprise me."
"That's nice," she said, darting her eyes as Ecklie leaned against the row of lockers.
"Everyone thought you were leaving because Grissom's an ass, and it turns out it's because the two of you had a lover's spat."
"We did what?"
"I have to give you two credit. In a building full of investigators, no one caught on. You were very discreet."
"No, we weren't."
Sara raised an eyebrow slowly at Ecklie's suggestive tone. "We weren't lovers. We aren't lovers. There was no lover's spat."
"I know what I saw," he replied, but with less confidence. After watching them earlier, Ecklie guessed that had been their trouble. He'd hoped to rattle Sidle into admitting it. Now he wasn't so sure he'd been right.
"I don't know what you saw, Conrad," she said with fake sweetness, "but I know who's been in my bed. And who hasn't. Want to hook up the polygraph?"
"No. Sara, I don't have to tell you the... difficulties... that could arise from being involved with a supervisor."
"No, you don't," she said, heading out of the locker room. Sara didn't look back as she rounded the corner. She'd planned on going to Grissom's office, but it would probably be better to call him from her Yukon.
Lost in her thoughts of trying to figure out what Ecklie could have seen, she nearly plowed into Grissom.
"Hey. You okay?"
"Fine," she replied, whipping her head around to make sure Ecklie wasn't in sight. "I have to run home. I'll met you at the conference, okay?"
"How long will you be?"
"Shouldn't take more than an hour."
"How about I pick you up at your apartment? We can grab breakfast."
"Okay. Watch out for Ecklie," she said softly before heading out of the lab.
Grissom watched her go, pursing his lips in confusion. With a shrug, he decided it would be easier to just ask her what was going on later. He did a quick mental calculation. If he went straight to the bookstore, he'd have just enough time to swing by the pharmacy before heading to Sara's apartment.
Warrick forced a serious expression on his face as he made his way into the break room. Catherine was sitting at the table slowly sipping her coffee. He'd already transferred the digital photos he'd taken of her at the frat house to a CD. Archie was promising to have copies for everyone by the start of next shift.
He took a seat across from her and reached out to place a comforting hand on hers. When she looked up, Warrick gave her a soulful look.
"Hey. You holding up okay?"
"Rough cases, weren't they?"
"Sure you're okay... chickie?"
"Yep," she sighed, not surprised at the speed of the lab's rumor mill.
"Want to go grab a beer?"
"I think I had my limit for the day."
"How about a movie? Wanna go watch Willie Wonka?"
"I think I'm going straight home."
"You're not going to the trade show? Bet they have all kinds of lubricants for getting stuck guys unstuck."
"A hacksaw works wonders," she said slyly, smiling sweetly at his squirming. "I even have photos."
"Here," she said earnestly as she pushed a folder to him. He wasn't the only one who carried a digital camera around. "Here they are cutting it off. In this one, you can see they went a little..."
"Well, look at this one. Rubin jerked a little bit. He was nervous."
"Dammit, Cath!" Warrick said, pushing the photos away. He shook his limbs in sympathy for what the clerk had gone through. That had to be painful.
"Well, it was the hacksaw or the hospital. They'd take this huge needle," she added, moving her hands well apart. "And stick it..."
"Stop it!" Warrick exclaimed as he jumped up. "You are evil."
"Tell you what. You don't show the beer photos, and I won't talk about this case every single time we meet."
"Deal," he muttered sadly, wondering what it would cost him to get the CD back from Archie.
Sara gave Grissom a baffled look as she opened the door to his car. A gift bag sat on the passenger's seat. She picked it up so she could slide into the spot, tilting her head as she fastened the safety belt.
"Seems to be your day for getting presents," he said with a small smile.
"You didn't have to do that," she said, pulling out a handful of CDs. She turned to give him a mock-glare. "You really didn't. Opera. And 'The Idiots Guide to Opera'. You think I'm an idiot?"
"Only about opera. And maybe about the mating rituals of beetles."
"You could teach me about mating," she said innocently, smiling when he turned to give her an amused look. "Beetle mating rituals."
"After opera. You need a basic understanding to be able to appreciate opera. I think you might like it, if you give it a chance. If not," he said, reaching to the back seat. "I picked up some music you do like. I checked the cover of that CD Greg gave you."
"You're something else," Sara said, smiling as he slipped the disk into the player. Humming softly, she opened the book to begin reading it. "How did you get into opera?"
"My mother," he answered softly. "She always listened to it when I was young."
Sara glanced over at him. He sounded wistful. She wondered if there was more to that story. Her smiled widened as she went back to the book.
"So, what about operettas?"
"What about them?" Grissom asked with a smile as he watched Sara study the book intently.
"Was your mother a fan of those? 'Pirates of Penzance', 'H.M.S. Pinafore', stuff like that."
"Yes, she was. Why?"
"I was wondering if your middle name is Sullivan," she replied mischievously from behind the book. When he let out a pained groan, she flashed him a toothy grin. "I'll behave."
"Somehow, I doubt that."
"You don't sound disappointed."
Grissom merely gave her a quick look.
"Why did you tell me to watch out for Conrad?"
"He thinks we're having an affair."
"To be having an affair, at least one of us would have to be married. Is there something you haven't told me?'
"All kinds of things. No husband, though."
"Not yet," he said, shocking her as he pulled into the garage of the hotel hosting the show. Sara followed him silently into the building. When she started to head to the breakfast buffet, he called her towards the bank of elevators.
"They serve a champagne brunch here every day," Grissom said as the doors closed. He smiled as he gave her a tender look. "I'd say after last night that we're... dating. I figured it was time I took you on a date."
Sara dropped her eyes before starting to chuckle and quickly scanning the moving room.
"How many cameras do you think are in here?"
"Why?" he asked, his mouth going dry as he recalled her adventures in an airplane bathroom. He licked his lips as he mimicked her motions of scanning the elevator, hoping she wasn't planning what he feared. Even if he weren't on crutches, he could never do something like that.
She laughed harder when she realized the reason for his nervous expression.
"I feel like kissing you, but with my luck the elevator would break down. We'd have to get rescued. The whole lab would end up with copies of the tape," she said reassuringly. "I'm not into exhibition."
"You're safe in elevators."
"We can do that later. Kiss, I mean."
"I'll hold you to that."
"I hope so," Grissom said suggestively as she exited the elevator.
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