by Sara Grissom
Archive: Please ask first I might say yes.
Disclaimer: They're not mine.
Summary: Mayhem on the open road. Sequel to Camping Trip.
Chapter 4 - DAY TWO--ON THE ROAD AGAIN
"On the road again," Nick sang along with Willie Nelson's staticky voice on the radio. "Like a band of gypsies we go something something something... we're the best of friends... blah blah blah... on the road again... "
Warrick snickered from the front passenger seat. "Dude, you don't even know the words to that hayseed song."
"Neither do you," Nick shot back.
Warrick guffawed. "And I don't want to, either."
In the back seat, Sara's eyes were glued to the scenery beyond the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of some wildlife.
Beside her, in the middle of the seat, Grissom scowled to himself. He was badly losing at the Palm Pilot arcade game he had earlier confiscated from Nick.
To his other side sat Catherine, deeply absorbed in the trashy romance novel she was reading. She chewed absently on a few strands of her highlighted hair, until her taste buds realized that her strawberry-scented shampoo residue was quite less than appetizing.
Sara gave up her hope of seeing anything with four legs and fur. She sat back in her seat with a disappointed sigh. "There's nothing out there but dust and trees."
"Ooh, speaking of trees," Warrick piped up. "I need a bathroom break. I've been holding it for an hour."
Nick gaped at him. "An hour? Why didn't you say something earlier, man? I would've stopped somewhere for you."
Warrick turned an embarrassed shade of pink. "I was hoping we'd come to a rest stop by now."
Nick sighed and pulled the SUV onto the shoulder of the road, turning off the engine. "Pick a tree, my friend," he smirked.
Warrick grumbled something about "unsanitary conditions", but unbuckled his seatbelt and got out anyway, quickly disappearing behind the trees.
Desperate to find something to occupy her mind as they idly sat waiting for Warrick, Sara swept her gaze over her three remaining companions.
Nick switched the ignition key to "accessory", turning the radio back on without having to start the engine up again. He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, bobbing his head to the country song on the radio.
Grissom was still losing at the hand-held arcade game, his brow in a furrow and the tip of his tongue poking out the corner of his mouth.
Seemingly unaware that the car had ceased traveling and was now parked on the roadside, Catherine was still lost in her novel.
How can she read with her book practically on her nose? Sara marveled silently.
Oblivious to her colleague's curious stare, Catherine moved the book away from her face a few inches to turn the page, then promptly resumed reading.
A smile formed on Sara's face as her utter boredom collided with her mischievous nature. She licked her index finger, slowly reached behind Grissom, and gave Catherine a wet-willy directly in her ear.
"Hey!" Catherine jumped and swatted Grissom with her book, causing him to drop his digital game on the floor of the vehicle.
"Ow! Knock it off, Catherine!" Grissom ducked away with his arms up in defense.
"Me?! You knock it off!" She whacked his shoulder once more for good measure, ripping apart her book in the process.
"What did I do?" Grissom demanded, snatching the mangled book away from the irate blonde.
"You stuck your saliva-covered finger in my ear--that's what!"
"I most certainly did not!" Grissom denied hotly. "The only ears that ever come into contact with my saliva are Sara's!"
Sara gaped at her bugman, her cheeks flushed. "Grissom! They don't need to know that!" She pulled the tattered remains of Catherine's book from Grissom's grasp and smacked his other shoulder with it.
"Well I'm sorry," Grissom lowered his voice a few octaves. "But Catherine's accusing me of something I never did." He scooped up the destroyed book and tossed it out the window before anyone else could harass him with it.
"Ooooh, Grissom's littering," Nick scolded, looking out his window at the book remnants sinking in a mud puddle. "Shame on you, boss."
"Shut up, Nick."
Nick didn't respond. Not because Grissom had demanded his silence, but because he spotted Warrick trudging back towards the car.
A wicked idea popped into his head. Either Nick was spending too much time around Sara, or he too was a practical joker at heart.
He started up the engine when Warrick was just a few yards away, and slowly pressed his foot down on the gas pedal.
The SUV rolled forward along the pavement.
"Hey!" Warrick shouted, breaking into a run. "Stop!"
The native Texan snickered, keeping a slow but steady pace ahead of Warrick.
"Nicky, you stop this vehicle right now or I'm chucking your Palm Pilot," Catherine commanded.
Nick glanced at her in the rear-view mirror, a look of panic on his face. "You wouldn't."
Catherine quickly rolled down her window and extended her arm outside with the small piece of battery-powered equipment dangling from her fingers.
Fearing the safety of his beloved video game, Nick slammed his foot on the brake.
The abrupt loss of momentum threw the passengers forward.
Catherine pulled her arm back inside after almost dropping the Palm Pilot out the window.
Grissom immediately turned to Sara, putting his hand on her arm. "Are you okay?"
Sara, still irked at Grissom for opening his big mouth, jerked her arm free. "I'm fine."
Grissom was deeply hurt that Sara would snap at him over such a minor thing as ears and saliva. He quietly withdrew his hand and folded his arms across his chest.
Warrick pulled his door open, jumped into the seat, and deftly slapped Nick on the back of the head. "Moron!"
"Dude, you run like a girl!" Nick chortled, smoothing his hair back into place.
"I do not," Warrick glowered as he put on his seat belt.
Catherine elbowed Grissom. "You owe me a new book."
Grissom ignored her and asked Warrick what time it was.
"Seven-thirty," Warrick answered after a quick glance at his digital sport watch. "And since neither Catherine nor Sara seem to be skilled in finding decent lodgings on this trip, I think I should choose our next hotel."
"And just how do you intend to do that?" Sara wanted to know. "We don't even know where we are right now."
"Well, according to that sign back there," Warrick began with a satisfied smile. "There's a Motel Six about a half-hour away."
"Motel Six?" Sara snickered as she exited the SUV in the motel's parking lot. "I think this qualifies as a Motel Four."
"Just be glad it's here," Catherine replied, following the guys inside the small building. "I'm so tired my body doesn't even know if it's day or night."
Noticing the lack of chairs in the office, Nick took a seat in the middle of the floor.
Catherine eyed the grey carpeting with suspicion, telling herself she may have to burn her clothes if she, too, sat down.
Grissom marched up to the front desk and asked for two rooms.
"I'm very sorry, sir," the young receptionist responded with wide eyes, looking more nervous than a very high-strung Chihuahua. "But all of our empty rooms are being remodeled this month. And all the finished rooms are occupied."
Warrick sighed. "That's it--I'm camping out right here on this floor."
The receptionist gaped at him. "You can't be serious!" she squeaked. "That's simply not acceptable!"
"So what is acceptable?" Sara hollered. "Making us sleep on the sidewalk?!" She stepped over Nick and pushed her way to the desk, her anger outweighing her exhaustion. "I bet you had a nice comfy bed to sleep in last night, while I had to share a car with four other people!" Feet planted firmly in place, she stated, "I agree with Warrick. I'm staying right here, too."
"Yeah!" Warrick gave her a high-five. "You tell 'em, sister!"
The receptionist was positively panicked. "Oh my god! I have to call the manager! This just isn't reasonable!" She rushed to the other end of the desk and pushed a red button under the edge of the countertop.
Moments later, a balding man opened a nearby door and poked his head out. "What's the problem now, Jenny?"
The receptionist--now known as Jenny--relayed the situation with increasing hysteria.
Unfazed by his employee's tattered nerves, the manager calmly provided a simple solution: "So kick someone out of their room."
"But sir! The only person you can afford to kick out is your nephew!"
"Good!" Jenny's boss beamed at her. "Evict him! Lousy moocher hasn't paid for his room, anyway."
Jenny was aghast at the idea of removing a person from a room, even if they were using it for free.
The manager turned to the group of CSIs. "No offense meant, but the last time someone camped out on this floor, it took us weeks to kill all the leftover lice. I don't want to take that chance again."
"Aagghh!" Nick jumped up off the floor, fervently brushing off the seat of his pants. "Why didn't you tell me this rug was contaminated?!"
Catherine gave herself a mental pat on the back for wisely refraining from sitting on the polluted floor.
"If you will excuse me, I have a freeloader to get rid of." With that, the manager happily disappeared through another door.
Twenty minutes later, they were still waiting for their room.
"Isn't that housekeeping lady done cleaning it up yet?" Warrick grumbled. "I swear, if she takes any longer, I'm going to sleep right here on top of all our luggage."
"Hey--here comes the manager," Catherine pointed out.
"Oh thank God," Sara sighed.
"I'm so sorry about the wait, folks," the manager apologized. "Kicking my nephew out was a bit more difficult this time than it normally is. Please follow me to your room."
The group of five dragged their overnight luggage through a narrow hallway, coming to a stop in front of an open door.
"Enjoy," the manager said with a wide grin, handing Grissom the room key.
The room was surprisingly very nice compared with what they had expected. A few cheap (yet tasteful) paintings adorned clean white walls, and blue curtains framed a large picture window.
Although the room had ample floor space, the single queen-sized bed had been pushed up against one wall. The middle of the mattress contained a tall stack of extra blankets and pillows.
The five of them stared at it with slightly confused expressions.
"I'm sleeping in the tub," Grissom announced, hauling a blanket, a pillow, and his suitcase towards the bathroom. "The rest of you can fight over the bed."
"Not so fast, bugman," Sara replied. "We have to take turns getting changed in the bathroom before you can have it."
Grissom almost pouted. Sara was still being snarky at him, and all he really wanted right now was to get some much-needed sleep and start tomorrow with a fresh outlook. "Fine," he relented, sitting on the edge of the bed to wait for the bathroom to be free. "Just don't take all night."
Sara was in and out in no time, as were the rest of the group.
With an exaggerated sigh of relief, Grissom was finally allowed into the bathroom. He closed the door tightly behind him, changed into a pair of pajamas and fashioned himself a bed inside the wider-than-necessary tub.
Meanwhile, Warrick chose a blanket from the stack and wrapped it around himself. "Girls can have the bed," he graciously offered, tossing a pillow down on the floor. "We men aren't quite as delicate as they are."
Nick smirked as he lay down on his own makeshift bed. "Tell ya what... this hard floor is infinitely better than a lumpy one-third of an SUV's back seat."
Grissom lounged inside the bathtub with the upper half of his body propped up against the foot of the tub. He had a pillow behind his head and his arms folded behind the pillow.
Oddly unable to sleep despite his earlier fatigue, he was now idly examining the shower's ceiling tiles in the darkened room.
He turned his head at the sound of the bathroom door opening and closing.
Sara stood with her back to the door and a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. "Catherine was snoring in my ear," she explained softly.
Grissom squinted at her in the darkness, trying to judge whether she was still mad at him or not.
"I'm sorry I snapped at you earlier," Sara continued, looking down at the floor. "I don't like hurting you, Grissom. Especially not over such stupid little disagreements."
Grissom gave her a forgiving smile and moved over, making room for her in the tub. "You wanna sleep with me?"
Sara grinned at him. "It's about time you asked me that."
She stepped into the tub and stretched out next to Grissom, bending her long legs the same direction his were bent so they wouldn't have to dangle over the tub edge.
Grissom wrapped his arms around her, and she snuggled up against his side.
"If you start snoring as loud as Catherine, I'll stuff a sock down your throat," Sara warned sleepily.
"You do that, and you'll be choking on the other sock," Grissom retorted with a chuckle. He kissed her forehead. "Goodnight, honey."
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