Archive: Please ask first.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters. Just borrowing for fun.
Summary: A serial with no apparent motive is on the loose, choosing his victims so randomly that only the little forensic evidence CSI can find can be used to connect the dots when trying to find him. GS, casefile.
Have you ever wondered why those days exist
When life just seems to be a conspiracy against you?
(Lamb - Bonfire)
"I mean, it's lucky the telephone was within my reach," the old lady complained bitterly over the line to the care hospice. "You would think if she was going to be running late, she would call and explain why, don't you? But no. Nothing. Not a call, not a warning, nothing and I'm left here all on my own with nobody to help me to have a bath and go to bed."
Maria bit back a sigh. "I understand, Mrs. Martin. We'll send a replacement nurse over right away."
"No!" Mrs. Martin objected strenuously, and the receptionist could hear a sound like that of something hitting the telephone receiver - the lady's hand, perhaps? "You get a hold of that Amy and send her right over here as soon as you can. She's the only one who knows how I like my bathwater and can fix it just right. I'll talk to her about being late when she gets here. Can you do that?"
"I'll do my best," the harassed younger woman replied politely. "I promise I'll call you and let you know as soon as I get in touch with her."
"I should think so," the elderly patient grumbled. "All right. Thank you. I'll look forward to seeing her very soon, but do not leave it too late. I need my sleep."
As the complaining woman hung up the phone with an audible clatter, the receptionist placed her receiver back in the cradle and turned to double-check the assignment board. Surely she should be working tonight? The chart said yes. Maria frowned in confusion. Amy was one of the most reliable workers employed by the hospice - never late for work, never late to a patient, and she certainly never skipped work for a sick day without calling in. So where is she?
Hailing a student nurse passing by the desk, a girl she knew was a friend of Amy's, she called, "Carlie, have you seen Amy today? Her old lady just called, she hasn't turned up for work."
The girl stopped short. "Uh, not since the end of work this morning... she did say she was going to meet me at the usual place for breakfast after work tonight, though. She seemed fine to me."
"Well, that's odd." The receptionist bit her lip in thought. "Do you think I should find someone who might go over there to check on her?"
"Call her first," Carlie suggested, "she might just be running really late?" The girl adjusted her collar. "Like me, in fact... I have to go, Maria. Let me know what happens, OK?" Without waiting for an answer, the nurse hurried off down the hallway.
"Of course," Maria murmured under her breath.
A kitchen, painted chocolate brown and maroon, clean counters and a kettle, still boiling, beside a knife with traces of something crumbly and yellow on the blade; the only light is a dim external glow. From the window, night lights can be seen automatically lighting up to guide people in the almost-dark of evening. Inside the kitchen, the home, nothing moves.
The silence is broken by the shrilling of a telephone bell: once, twice, and on the bell rings, but it is left unanswered. A cheerful young woman's voice clicks in on an answer-phone message, "Hi, this is 555-0210 and you have reached Amy Dellaglio. I'm not available right now, but if you leave your name and a contact number after the beep, I'll get back to you a-sap." A smile is in her recorded voice, which is cut short as the machine obediently 'beeps'.
"Amy, it's Maria. Are you planning on coming into work anytime tonight? Mrs. Martin called and said you never got in touch with her to say you wouldn't be there. Pick up, if you're there, or I'll get someone to come over and check up on you. This isn't like you at all. What's going on? Anyway, get back to me the moment you hear this message. You know the number."
Turning from the answering machine, a check-patterned table comes into view; hanging over its edge, a limp, pale, bare foot, the ankle obviously broken.
"Found by a colleague just under an hour ago," Brass informed Grissom, striding up the driveway from his SUV, "Amy Dellaglio, twenty-seven years of age, worked as a night nurse employed by the St Mary's Care Hospice. When she didn't turn up for work and the receptionist there got a complaint from the woman she was supposed to be taking care of, she called the vic at home repeatedly, left messages on her answer-phone but got no answer, so she sent someone by to check on her. Apparently the woman who found her was a friend of hers, name's Kathryn Dumont; they went to the same medical school. She's over there." He gestured to a dark-haired, tearful woman being questioned by Detective Vega. "Gotta warn you Gil, this one ain't pretty."
"'Death devours all lovely things,'" the entomologist quoted, hefting his field kit with his right hand as he slid a latex glove onto his left. "Has David seen her yet?"
"Parked around back. He's in there now," the captain confirmed, "and he doesn't like the look of it any more than I do. Somebody sure hated this girl." They stepped over the threshold and moved into the house, keeping close to the walls.
"Well," Grissom remarked, "doesn't look as though the killer forced his or her way in, so it must have been someone she trusted enough to let into her home." He spied something on the floor and bent down slowly to retrieve it: a single sunshine-yellow fibre of about six inches in length. "Looks like silk," he commented as he dropped it into an evidence bag. "This girl was pretty neat."
The hallway was almost spotless, a side table and the mirror on the wall left completely undisturbed. The pair made their way through the hall to the linoleum-floored kitchen, where a woman's prone form was obviously posed on the otherwise empty dining table. Her arms and legs were bent at unnatural angles, her body unclothed, with her head tipped back over the far edge of the table, long, dark curly hair cascading down around her staring eyes. The assistant coroner was bent over the body, carefully examining it with eyes alone. He straightened up as Brass entered the room, followed by Grissom.
"I haven't touched her yet except to pronounce," David announced, "and she's obviously dead. Thought you might like to get a few shots of her positioning before I move her to take her liver temp. Looks as though she's been dead a good eight hours at least though, rigor's been and gone." He stepped back to allow Grissom to view the corpse more closely, turning his face away to take a deep breath.
Grissom examined her carefully, tugging a corner of his lip between his teeth while he considered, before turning to Brass.
"Jim, call Sara, get her over here; I'm going to take shots of this."
Suiting the action to the word, the taller man headed out to his SUV to fetch photography equipment while Brass dialled a number on his cell phone. David glanced at the victim again.
"Sometimes I hate this job," he murmured sadly, looking over at photographs of the woman and others on the side unit. The dead woman had been pretty in life, but in death that beauty had been violated, left looking terrified, lying like a broken doll on her own kitchen table.
"Don't we all," Brass muttered.
"Hey, Sara," he spoke into the phone, "got a 419 at 1129 Martingale; Grissom wants you over here ASAP." He paused as she evidently replied in the negative. "Well, hand it on to someone else. I'm just the messenger here." He rolled his eyes silently. "Yeah."
Hanging up, he slid his cell into his pocket as Grissom walked back into the room carrying the scene camera.
"She's on that 428," he said, "but I told her you said for her to get over here now. She didn't like it, but she's trying to find someone to give her case to and she'll be over when she's done."
Grissom raised his head from where he was inspecting the camera lens. "Good."
"Asphyxia due to strangulation and suffocation," Dr. Robbins announced, gently tipping back the head of the dead woman. "Characteristic petechial haemorrhaging in the eyes, swollen tongue, bruised skin... You see the abrasions and lacerations on her throat? Some kind of chain twisted tight around her neck from behind, probably with both hands." He lifted her fingers. "Defensive wounds, two fingers broken and scratches all over the margin of whatever was round her neck. There's skin under her fingernails, so you should be able to get some DNA from that, if you're lucky." He looked up at Grissom.
"As I'm sure you already know, both arms and both legs were fractured, but both femur and shin were broken in her legs, twist fractures. All her injuries were perimortem, but I'm pretty confident in saying all the limb fractures were made shortly after death." He glanced up at the victim's face. "Pity, she was a pretty girl. Sent her blood off to tox, to check whether she might have been impaired, so I'll know more later. I'll page you with the results."
"Thanks, doc." Grissom nodded to him, straightening up the file in his hands and heading upstairs.
Standing at the cupboard in the break room, Catherine poured herself a cup of coffee and leaned back against the unit.
"Hey Sara," she asked as the other woman came into the room, "you seen Grissom?" Resting her field kit on the table, Sara perched herself on the arm of one of the brown leather chairs.
"He's on his way back from the morgue, autopsy of that dead nurse we pulled," the brunette replied, smoothing her jacket. "Say, could you pour me some of that?" Catherine looked at her in surprise.
"Isn't that your fifth cup of coffee this shift?"
"I need more caffeine," Sara defended herself. "I haven't been getting much sleep lately, the new neighbour has a stereo like a jackhammer and he doesn't seem to realise some people have to work at night." Rolling her eyes up to the ceiling, she added, "If he doesn't cut me some slack soon, I swear he's not the only one who will need surgery for his hearing." Catherine raised an eyebrow.
"Excuse me?" Does she know about Grissom's surgery? She continued pouring the coffee, filling a polystyrene cup for Sara.
"I will, Cat, if he plays that stereo of his any louder," Sara explained tiredly. "I like music, but not when I'm trying to sleep."
"I thought you never sleep," Nick quipped as he stuck his head around the door with a grin. Sara scowled at him.
"Yeah, well, sometimes even I have to recharge my batteries." She reached out and snagged an apple from the fruit bowl, and Catherine handed her the cup of coffee as she leaned over. "Thanks," she said, suppressing a yawn and bringing it to her lips for a sip as she settled back against the arm of the chair. Nick dropped into a seat.
"Any idea where Grissom is?" he asked, raising an eyebrow at Sara quizzically, slinging one arm over the back of the seat.
"He's on his way over," Catherine reported. "He should be back soon." She drained the remainder of her drink, tossing the cup into the trash can. "I hope he's got an assignment for me, I'm going stir crazy." She shook back her hair with a pensive sigh.
"I gave Warrick my 428," Sara said. "If I'd known you were this bored you could have had it." She grinned at the blonde woman. "Sorry, Catherine. Hey, how's Lindsey?"
The teenager's mother heaved another sigh. "I have no idea anymore. I've hardly seen her the past few weeks, she seems to want to spend all of her time over at Nancy's. Who am I to argue? She's thirteen now, Nancy keeps a safe house... Since Eddie died, Lindsey just hasn't been the same kid. She's kept getting wilder and wilder. I tried to stop her, but it doesn't seem to have helped any." Catherine rubbed her forehead with a harassed look, gesturing irritably. "I just don't know how to handle her anymore." Without waiting for either of her co-workers to answer, the senior CSI walked out of the room, her posture tense and stressed.
Sara and Nick exchanged looks, but before either spoke another word, Grissom walked into the room with the night's assignments.
"Hey Grissom," Nick hailed him, "what do you got for us?"
"For you, Nick," he smiled, "a trick roll." Nick groaned dramatically, rolling his eyes to the ceiling. "Sara, you're with me on the 419." He looked around curiously. "Where's Catherine?"
"She just left," Sara told him. "Maybe she went to the locker room or something." She quickly drank the remainder of her coffee, and smiled over at Nick. "Hey cowboy, want the rest of my apple?" Nick laughed and held out his hands to catch it as she neatly tossed it across the room.
"Time to go," Grissom stated. Sara dumped her paper coffee cup in the waste basket and followed him out, giving a tired smile to her colleague.
The kitchen in which Amy Dellaglio's body had been found seemed bare and empty in the strong electric light she had installed for it. Sara had dusted the light switch for prints before using it, but it had been wiped clean. As expected.
"I'm beginning to get the feeling this was all very much premeditated," she remarked, making her way across the room, photographing, fingerprinting and documenting everything. "The killer's wiped all the surfaces down, left us almost nothing to go on. All we have is the body."
Grissom glanced over at her as she knelt on the linoleum flooring, the face he loved to watch fixed in her concentration. "Not quite nothing," he said, smiling slightly as he rewound the answering machine's mini cassette. "We might be able to determine the timeline of her murder when Brass gets hold of her phone records, and I found a yellow thread of what looked like silk in the front hallway. I left it with Jacqui." He straightened up, placing both hands on his lower back as his spine cracked painfully. I'm getting old, he thought.
"Good," Sara said, spraying the floor around and beneath the table with Luminol. "...Wait just one minute." She looked up, one eyebrow arched. "We got blood."
"Well, it can't be the victim's," Grissom reasoned. "She had no bleeding injuries. Killer get cut on something, maybe?" He placed the mini cassette inside an evidence bag and pushed open the door to the back hallway of the apartment as Sara continued her work, photographing and taking a swab from the drops of blood she had found.
"Broken window in the door to the fire escape," he called back to her, examining the shards of glass that had fallen onto the carpet. "Looks like the perpetrator came up the staircase and used something to break the glass in the window so he could just reach in and open it, but cut himself on the sharp edges."
"Oh, I love stupid criminals," Sara commented, coming over to look at the window. "I'll swab that and get it to Greg." She suppressed a yawn with the back of her arm as she bent down, flicking open the swab, and Grissom raised an eyebrow.
"Sara, when was the last time you had a full day off?" he asked, trying to recall the answer.
Sara looked up in surprise. "Uh, I don't remember," she admitted. "I'm fine, honestly." She smiled her brightest 'suppress-the-gag-reflex' smile, trying to prove she didn't need time off. The last thing I need is more time alone with nothing to take my mind off my thoughts.
Grissom sighed and crossed his arms, while trying not to think of how much he'd missed her smile. "Sara, I don't want to look at your overtime sheet and see you maxed out again this month. Do you remember our conversation about diversions?"
"Yes, I remember," she abruptly spoke, getting to her feet. How could I forget? "Gris, my overtime level is nowhere near maxed out. I'll be fine."
"Living's not all about work, you know," he said cryptically, opening another door off the hallway and entering the room beyond it.
Sara's brows came together in a frown as she closed the swab. Damn it, he always manages to knock me off balance. What did he mean by that?
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