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.
Walking into the trade show, Sara wondered if she had had too much to drink at breakfast. Giggling girlishly, she giddily gazed at the garrulous gathered gang of gleefully grinning geeks, gaily gliding guilelessly along the gibbering gallery of gimmicky gimcracks, graduated gauges, gleaming gizmos, gaudy gadgets, glistening geegaws and galore of other grand goods.
"Champagne," she explained when Grissom gave her an amused look. "Gets me this way."
"I'll have to remember that."
"I'll remind you."
"I'll look forward to it."
"So will I."
They exchanged grins as they made their way towards the booths. Examining the latest forensic tools was always enjoyable, but Grissom found it even more pleasant with Sara. Stealing occasional glances her way, he was glad to see her still smiling as the morning progressed.
Grissom was politely trying to turn down a portable pH meter - inexplicably shaped like a bugged-eyed chili pepper - when he heard Sara's quiet swearing. Turning around, he spotted Fuller, his arms full of giveaways, rapidly approaching.
"I've been looking all over for you."
"Really?" she asked innocently. They'd made a point of avoiding the TriSci booth so she wouldn't have to deal with Fuller's attentions.
"Of course. Did you get the flowers?"
"Yeah. Uh, thanks. You shouldn't have."
"Least I could do for the most memorable gal from one of my labs."
"Gee. Thanks," she said, directing an eye roll at Grissom as her ill-timed ex-lover leaned in to give her a kiss.
"Oh, can I have some of those?" Fuller asked the vendor with the capsicum-shaped meters. When Grissom gave him a bewildered look, he shrugged. "Ankle biters. They'll want stuff as souvenirs."
Sara regarded him icily. "Kids? Do you have a wife, too?"
"Two? No, I have three of them," he said, laughing loudly at his joke. "All exes."
"You've been married, and divorced, three times already?"
"Yeah. After I got married, found out it wasn't as fun as I thought it would be."
"I wonder what your exes think," Grissom said softly, giving Sara a pointed look.
"Huh? So, Sara, are you free tonight?"
"I still work night shift."
"You have to have a little free time."
Sara resisted the urge to point out that, with Fuller, a little time was all that was needed. Even though she was at the trade show on her own time, she was still representing the lab. Insulting one of their vendors, while tempting, wouldn't be a smart move.
Besides, she could tell Grissom was getting irritated. It wouldn't be long before he made a comment to Ken, and this was neither the time nor the place to announce their change in status.
"Actually, I'm sorta seeing someone."
"This guy wouldn't mind if you showed an old friend a little fun, would he? I'm only in town for another day."
"Really, Sara. He wouldn't mind, would he? Why don't you ask?"
Hearing the new voice, Sara turned slowly around to see Grissom mimicking her movements. Behind them, Ecklie stood leaning against a booth, his arms crossed over his chest and smiling ingratiatingly at them.
Spotting her unsuspecting savior sauntering into the show, Sara smiled salaciously, saying syrupily, "I already know what the answer will be. Sorry, Ken. I can't tell you what it was like to see you again. Grissom, page me if you need help carrying anything. Bye!"
The trio watched as she bolted across the room to enthusiastically grab Nick's arm and lead him to the other side of exhibition.
"Sidle's seeing Stokes?"
Grissom blinked before grinning. He understood exactly what Sara was trying to do. "It's news to me, too," he answered honestly. "But I don't waste time on inter-office gossip."
His grin deepened as the barely-dressed cocktail waitress from the day before winked at him as she passed. "You never did print me."
"I love my job," he sighed as he hobbled after her.
"And 'hello' to you, too, darlin'! Miss me that much?"
"Shut up," Sara sighed as she linked her arm in Nick's, narrowing her eyes when she saw Grissom chasing after the blonde bimbo. They needed to throw Ecklie off, but he didn't have to be so damn energetic about it.
"You're using me," Nick teased, grinning as he caught both her and Ecklie's expressions.
"Just borrowing you."
"I don't think I like this."
"No. Think about it. I could meet the woman of my dreams here. How would I explain this?"
"Don't worry, Nicky. No one here looks inflatable."
"Now, if you're going to be that way," he warned, smiling evilly as he started to unlink their arms.
"Nope, nope. You're usin' and abusin' me. I think I deserve some compensation."
"Like what?" Sara asked cautiously.
"Oh, the formula for Red Creeper would be a good start."
"Really?" he asked in surprise.
"Sure. I'll just tell Grissom you blackmailed me into giving it to you."
"Don't worry; it's not like he holds a grudge or anything."
"You wouldn't," Nick repeated slowly, frowning when Sara raised a challenging eyebrow. "Hell, who am I kiddin'? Of course, you would."
"Welcome to the big leagues."
"I still get something."
"What?" she sighed in resignation.
"What's up with this Ken Fuller?"
"He's someone I knew in college."
"It's the truth."
"And he remembers you, and he sent you roses. You hadda make a good impression on him. I want the whole story."
Sara growled as she calculated the odds that Nick wouldn't spread the story of her initiation into the Mile High Club. She didn't like the result. "I'll take my chances with Ecklie."
"Sara Sidle! You dawg! I knew you had to have a wild side."
Sara closed her eyes as she drug Nick into a quieter area of the convention hall. The truth couldn't be worse that what he was imagining. She hoped.
Behind a display of Erlenmeyer flasks, Greg shook his head slowly as he spied Nick throwing his head back in laughter. Sara's punching his arm only increased his howls. Something was very, very wrong.
First, he'd overheard Ecklie's accusation to Sara in the locker room. The day shift supervisor was many things: arrogant, condescending, overbearing, hirsutically-challenged, but he was also a good CSI. If he thought Grissom and Sara were... together... he had to have good evidence.
Greg shuddered at the thought. Now, Sara had grabbed Nick in a manner that exceeded friendship and pulled him into an isolated area of the room. It was like she was trying to throw Ecklie off the track. But that would mean his suspicions had to be correct, and that was an idea Greg refused to believe.
So, did that mean Sara was seeing Nick in a more-than-friendly manner? The tech shuddered again. There couldn't be anything... going on... between them. That idea was almost as bad as Grissom and Sara... getting it on.
Besides, Nick had even hinted in the locker room that his new girlfriend was extremely hot in bed.
"Whoa," Greg moaned, shaking his head to clear the images. No, that couldn't be right. Nick and Sara? That was practically incest.
"Give it up. You're out of your league," Archie sighed.
"In a minute," Greg replied, twisting his head, to watch as Nick bent over laughing, ignoring the deadly glare Sara was directing at him.
"Come on," the A/V tech said, physically dragging his counterpart along. "Let's check out the new audio equipment. I'm getting a new set of speakers later. Wanna tag along?"
"I thought you were broke."
"I was," Archie said with a grin. Returning the CD of pictures of Catherine was worth the money Warrick threw at him. Besides, he already copied them to his hard drive. Who knew when they would come in handy?
Grissom followed Sara nervously into her apartment. Once Ecklie got called out on a case, they'd rejoined and finished the tour of the show. As fun as the day had been, he was glad it was over. His body ached from spending so much time on crutches.
When they pulled into her apartment complex, she'd invited him up for coffee. He hesitantly accepted. As much as he wanted to move their relationship forward, Grissom was still leery. He still had trouble believing she wanted him, and a not-so-small part of his mind feared she'd regret the decision.
After starting the coffee, Sara watched as Grissom rolled his shoulders as he sat on the couch. Moving to sit sideways beside him, she directed him to take his jacket and shirt off.
"Relax," she said, shifting him so his back was to her. "If I were going to seduce you, I'd take my shirt off. Not that there's much there."
Grissom looked over his shoulder as he unbuttoned his shirt, running his eyes over her form in a lingering manner. "You're perfect."
"You're a flatterer," she said, but leaned forward to place a quick kiss on his neck before she began massaging his shoulders. Sara smiled at his appreciative groans as she worked out the knots in his muscles. She remembered how badly her shoulders hurt when she spent too much time on crutches.
She stopped when the coffee finished brewing, shaking her head slightly when she returned with the mugs to find he'd already had his shirt back on. Settling on the couch beside him, she gave him a friendly smile as she tried to determine what was bothering him.
"Fine. Coffee's delicious."
"You worried about Ecklie?"
"No. I don't think Cavallo would be too impressed that one of his supervisors is spying on the personal lives of two other CSIs. Besides, as long as we keep it out of the lab, they don't have a reason to complain."
"Does that thing with Ken bother you?"
"I can't figure out what you ever saw in him," Grissom said, giving her an appraising look.
"That makes two of us," she quipped. "Consider Ken Fuller a delayed rebellion. I was always the good kid. Never got in trouble in school. My last semester in college, I realized I'd never done any of the stuff kids were supposed to do. I never thought I'd run into him again."
Sara gave him a smirk before leaning forward to kiss him softly. "Why are we talking about Ken?"
"I don't know," Grissom responded as he wrapped his arms around her and leaned forward to run his lips across her neck. Where their last make-out session had been hot and heavy, this time he kept his kisses soft and gentle, savoring each one. Before things progressed too far, he pulled back, tenderly brushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear.
"I have to go. I'll see you at work," Grissom said softly.
"Okay," she said in confusion. Why had Grissom stopped? She'd made sure she hadn't eaten anything with onions or garlic as a precaution. Was he being a gentleman? She'd let him know she was ready to progress.
She cocked her head as he slowly made his way to the door. The accident that had broken his ankle had been a little over a week ago. Maybe he was hurt more than he'd let on, or he was still sore. Either way, she wasn't going to push him.
"Uh. I have court tomorrow. We're both off tomorrow night. Would you like to come over for dinner? Nothing fancy. I can throw something together."
"I'd like that. Goodnight," he said with a final kiss.
"Night," she replied quietly.
Catherine sipped her coffee quietly as she examined the latest addition to the break room. Whoever was leaving these dead bugs had a twisted sense of humor. A millipede with slit ankles?
"Someone left you another 'gift'," Catherine said to Sara.
"Yeah. You doing this?"
"To get to Gil? The guy is dense, but I think he's gotten the message by now."
"I'm not leaving these," Sara answered with a smirk as she went to get her coffee.
"So, things okay between you two?"
"Good. Say, would you mind switching nights off? I really need a break."
Sara turned to her colleague with a sympathetic shrug. She'd heard about the cases she'd been stuck with.
"Sorry. I already have plans for tomorrow."
"Oh, well. Hey, Gil! I really need a favor."
"What?" he asked, giving Sara a brief nod as he entered the break room.
"Can we switch nights off? Tomorrow for my day off on Saturday?"
"I already have plans, Catherine."
"Really? Both of you have plans for tomorrow night," she drawled, looking between the two of them. When they both blushed as they hid behind their coffee mugs, her grin grew. "Imagine that."
The pair were spared further embarrassment when Nick walked in, Warrick dragging in gloomily behind him.
"Drop it, Nick. Please, drop it," Warrick whispered.
"Got some pictures for you to look at later, Nicky."
"I can't wait."
"Don't go there, man. You don't want to see them."
"Does anyone want to work tonight?" Grissom asked as he fished out the assignments. "Sara, you have an assault over in Boulder City. Nick, Warrick there's a DB at the Frontier. Catherine, you get a food fight..."
"No way! No! You thought you were funny with that last case. I'm taking the assault," she said, pulling the assignment sheet from Sara's hand and leaving the room.
Sara turned to glare at Grissom. He shrugged apologetically.
"I was trying to be nice to her. The food fight turned into a multiple shooting."
"No. Witnesses say at least three semi-automatic weapons were pulled out. They shot up the cafe, the street lights, the cars parked outside, but no one got hit."
"I'll tag along."
"Why?" Sara asked as they made their way to the parking lot.
"I don't want to do paperwork."
"Isn't it too soon for you to be back in the field?"
"I'll let you do all the hard work."
"I know you live for it."
"You're too kind," she smirked as she hopped in the Denali. "You know, Catherine is going to get upset when she finds out she passed on this case."
Grissom shrugged as he climbed in awkwardly. "It was her choice. Besides. What could go wrong on an assault case?"
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