Author: Joan Powers PM
When the entire CSI crew is called to a scene, Catherine is delighted to discover a new mystery, in addition to the crime actually being investigated. GSRRated: Fiction K+ - English - Romance/Humor - Gil G. & Sara S. - Words: 3,513 - Reviews: 30 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 9 - Published: 03-14-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2844203
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
By Joan Powers
A/N: Warning – Much fluffier piece than usual. Hey, since my WIPs are coming along slowly, and who knows when something interesting is going to happen on the show, I have to find some way to amuse myself. Thanks to Eileen and PhDelicious for their helpful comments.
Type: G/S romance, humor
Summary: When the entire CSI crew is called to a scene, Catherine is delighted to discover a new mystery, in addition to the crime actually being investigated.
Timeline/Spoilers: Season 6
Rating: K+ or PG-13
What a nightmare, Catherine groaned.
It was bad enough to be called back in to work seemingly minutes after her head hit the pillow. But this case would require all hands on deck, since day shift was already committed to a different high profile investigation. The luxury compound of Larry Sands, millionaire playboy, had been invaded by a gang of thugs. Thousands of dollars of high priced merchandise had been stashed into a van, while Larry and members of his predominantly female entourage were threatened at gun point, beaten, and then corralled into a bedroom. The governor, fondly known as Uncle Mike to Larry, was clamoring for immediate action.
Within minutes, members of the team trailed in. Since most had just finished putting in a full shift as Catherine had, no one was especially talkative or alert. Yet they'd taken the time to freshen up, change into clean clothes and grab a greatly needed cup of strong coffee on the way to the scene. Greg was one of the first to appear with Nick and Warrick following closely behind him, meeting Catherine by the elaborate fountain at the entrance to the mansion.
"Where's Grissom?" Greg was confused, not seeing his omnipresent supervisor.
Catherine shrugged, "You got me. Brass said neither he nor Sara answered their cell phones. Bet their batteries are low. Dispatch will keep trying them. I'm sure they'll be here soon. We need every warm body we've got for this one." She checked her watch, anxious to get the show on the road.
With Grissom's conspicuous absence, Catherine was uncertain how to proceed. When she'd been reassigned to graveyard shift, her official job title and responsibilities hadn't been clearly defined. But she was never one to mince words or worry about stepping on people's toes. With this much territory to cover, they needed to get started, so she assigned tasks. She'd be inside the house assessing the damage, while Greg studied the tracks left by the van in the driveway. Warrick would drive to the gated entries to determine the thieves' mode of access into the compound, while Nick accompanied the wounded parties to the hospital to take their statements and document their injuries.
When he showed up, Gil would have to survive a partially bruised ego. Then again, knowing him, he wouldn't care. Although she'd worked with him for years and considered him a friend, he was still an enigma to her in many ways. The past year had tested the bounds of their friendship, and some damage had been done. She'd felt they'd become more distant with each other, currently being mostly professional in their interactions.
His frank disapproval of many of her actions, especially the Alice Granger case in which she'd made out with a suspect in a parking lot earlier that evening and neglected to advise Grissom of the fact, had hurt more deeply than she'd openly acknowledge. At one point, she'd thought she had some insight into who Gil Grissom was and what made him tick. She wasn't so sure anymore.
Several minutes later, Brass found Catherine examining the cavernous rec room where the altercation had presumably started. Broken glass and some blood droplets indicated where Mr. Sands might've struggled with his assailants. Conspicuous blank areas on the walls indicated that select pieces of art work had been removed. The spacious room was well equipped, complete with a fully loaded bar and a huge sectional sofa focused towards a mammoth projection screen TV. The ransacked shelves must've housed state of the art electronics, along with other objects d'arte.
He whistled, "Nice setup for Monday Night football. Why didn't the thieves take that beauty? They had a van and ample time to load it. Too heavy?"
Catherine gave the TV a closer look, "It's a knock off, an older model by a lesser known company. Not worth as much on the street. These guys were into cash and carry. Most likely high end electronics, jewelry, maybe some better known art pieces." She was a pro at recognizing less expensive options; take her wardrobe as an example. She certainly couldn't afford to dress in the classy designer outfits that she'd prefer.
Changing the subject Brass asked, "You seen Grissom?"
"Not yet," she checked her watch.
Where was he?
This wasn't like him. What was the man's problem? Sure, it was supposed to be his night off later on but that usually didn't make a difference to him anyway. Since when did he have a personal life?
"The Sheriff's getting hot under the collar. He's dying for a lead to share with the media, and the governor is also breathing down his neck. This is a touchy situation. Let Grissom know," Brass emphasized sternly. He stepped closer to Catherine and added in a hushed tone, "This might be a point of interest. I understand that Mr. Sands here was having financial problems."
Catherine sighed, "Let's hope this is exactly what it seems to be or we're really going to be in over our heads."
Catherine proceeded to investigate the room, documenting what was broken, trying to piece together what might've happened in those terrifying moments when the thugs surrounded Mr. Sands and his guests. She also searched for any clues left behind by the invaders themselves. Soon Nick called with Mr. Sand's account of the incident, so she tried to reconcile this with what was before her. Finally, after almost forty-five minutes, the picture that was forming disturbed Catherine. Yet, she was determined to keep her mouth shut until there was sufficient evidence to substantiate her theory.
Sara rushed towards Catherine. The brunette's hair hung in damp tendrils; she'd obviously hurried over, panting with effort as she hefted her kit.
Catherine examined Sara's appearance. "You get home?"
Sara had to think about that. Or perhaps her reactions were slow because she was tired. "Uh, yeah. I was taking a shower. That's why I didn't hear my phone and I was late." Wanting to change the subject she offered, "Need some help here?"
"Sure, it looks like they disturbed some of the dirt in the potted plants by the entry way. Perhaps you can lift some prints?"
Sara hastily strode over, put down her kit and began to scrutinize the area.
As Catherine continued with her own work, she replayed their conversation in her head.
Uh, yeah. I was taking a shower. That's why I didn't hear my phone and I was late.
To Catherine's practiced ears, something about this didn't ring true. Dispatch's calls came every ten minutes. They were relentless, they never gave up. She found it hard to believe that Sara was in the shower for over an hour, for her hair clearly indicated that she'd only recently gotten out.
It wasn't really her business; they had work to do.
After finishing her examination of the room, Catherine approached Sara to see how she was faring. Upon looking at the brunette, who was resting on her knees while intently focusing upon dirt on the ornate ceramic tile, she grinned. Catherine had a sense about people. One that Grissom was envious of. Sara hadn't been telling the truth because Catherine now recognized the green pants that Sara had been wearing earlier that shift. They were cargo style with distinctive pockets. Yet she'd had on a different shirt earlier, a crisp white fitted blouse. If she'd returned to her apartment to take a shower, why change the shirt and not the pants? That didn't make sense. And the shirt….
Catherine's grin grew broader as she realized she'd hit pay dirt. Instead of the white blouse which undoubtedly complimented the outfit, Sara was improvising with an oversized black T-shirt, which hung on her lanky form. Catherine would've bet any amount of money that it was a man's T-shirt.
"Nice shirt" she tested the waters.
Sara seemed surprised, unaware that Catherine had moved so close to her, "Uh…it's my brother's."
Your brother's shirt? My ass.
Catherine could barely discern the faded LVPD logo. Sara must have a new boyfriend. Their relationship must be in the early stages since she didn't have any of her clothing (or a hairdryer) available at his place to change into. She must've gone to his place after completing her evening shift. The white blouse had gotten dirty or damaged, perhaps ripped in the heat of passion; Catherine's overactive imagination enjoyed filling in the blanks. Thus, Sara had substituted the black T-shirt for the ensemble.
After their altercation last year, when Sara had harshly accused her of using her sexuality in the work place, the two women had drifted further apart. Not that they had ever been close. But several years ago, Catherine had sensed when Sara realized that Hank was cheating on her. They hadn't directly discussed it, but the two women had gone out for a beer together and commiserated. Catherine remembered all too well what it was like to be cheated on.
Sara had been pining after Grissom for years, had he finally gotten his act together? Or was she still even interested? Had Sara moved on to a more deserving suitor? Having not worked with her for a year and due to their current limited interactions thus far, Catherine had no clue what was going on in the woman's life.
In the past she might have good naturedly teased Sara or given her a pat on the back, but she didn't feel comfortable doing that anymore. So she mentally congratulated her.
Way to go girl. Glad somebody's getting some action.
Sara's cell phone rang so she answered it. "Sidle…no, um…I think you have the wrong number." She closed her phone when it startled her by ringing again. When she examined the display, her cheeks became flushed. She turned off the ringer and quickly crammed the phone into her pocket.
Catherine's brain was busily humming, putting together what she'd just observed. With barely concealed amusement, she commented, "Don't you need to answer that?"
Sara stammered, "No…um…nothing important. Just Hodges with results from another case. You know how…he can be. We need to concentrate on what's going on here." Sara was clearly distracted and a lousy liar at that. "Um…I'm out of…evidence bags," she sprang up. "I'll be back." Then she rushed out of the room.
Catherine could barely contain her laughter, for Sara's kit was right before her eyes and fully stocked. She could also plainly see Sara's phone vibrating in her pocket.
What do we have here? This is getting interesting.
Greg stepped into the foyer. "I made plaster casts of the tire tracks so we'll be able to narrow down what type of vehicle was used. There's no sign of forced entry. Guess they were counting on the security gate to keep intruders away. You need a hand here or should I bring the samples back to the lab to start processing?"
"Let's hold off on that. Fresh evidence is always the best to provide leads and we could use the help, this place is huge," Catherine replied. She wondered, "Any sign of Grissom?"
"Yeah, he showed up about fifteen minutes ago. We spoke some about the case, checked a few things out, and then Brass cornered him and starting yelling at him about ignoring his phone. Guess he's been taking the heat from the Sheriff for Grissom. "
Greg was going to leave it at that but then lowered his voice to add, "Wanna hear something strange?" He carefully gauged her reaction. "Before Brass showed up, Grissom and I noticed an odd metallic item in a narrow trench just off in the driveway. We thought it might be something from one of the burglars or their vehicle, but we couldn't reach it. Grissom said he had a tool in his kit that might help. So we walk over to his SUV and it's locked."
"Yeah?" Catherine replied, getting bored. Was there a point to this or was he simply rambling? She was tempted to cut him off and just say 'That's nice Greg'?
Then again, it was pleasant to talk about more than the business at hand. She missed the easy camaraderie and idle gossip of the past. Only a few years earlier, the lab had felt more like a home, the CSIs had been like a family to her. She fondly remembered the men who had fought over the privilege of giving her daughter her first chemistry set. She missed that.
"If it's his car, why he doesn't have the keys," he smirked.
She logically deduced, "Guess he locked them inside." She was mildly amused at the thought of Grissom being flustered enough to make such a silly mistake.
Late and locked your kit and keys in the car? You're slipping Grissom.
"I don't think so. I couldn't see them in the ignition or on the seat. Any way, Grissom just made some really lame excuse, and then he practically ran into Brass on purpose to ditch me."
Hmm…one flustered geek was entertaining. When there were two flustered geeks, something was going on.
"You didn't happen to see Grissom arrive, did you?" she asked, wondering if Greg could lend support to her suspicions.
"Naah, I was concentrating on my work."
She wasn't bothered; there was more than one way to obtain proof. Just like she would eventually show that this robbery was bogus.
Grissom strode towards them. "What's happening with the case?"
Catherine inwardly winced, half expecting a reprimand for proceeding on her own. But he didn't seem to care and after all, he was late – really late. Of course, the infuriating man offered no excuses, merely jumping right into the case.
"Any working theories?" he asked.
"None that the governor would appreciate," Catherine murmured. "Nick tells me that Mr. Sands sustained a blow to his face in the rec room when the robbers got physical with him while trying to get him to move to the bedroom. Lots of blood."
Catching Catherine's drift, the two men strolled towards the room in question. They cautiously walked about, looking for corroborating evidence.
Always the teacher, Grissom asked, "What do you think Greg?"
"That doesn't make sense," Greg answered, "Although it's a superficial injury, it would bleed like crazy, especially upon initial impact. Where's the blood splatter?"
"Exactly," Catherine agreed. "So what have you told the Sheriff?" she slyly asked Grissom.
"Nothing, I haven't heard from him yet. I think my cell phone batteries need recharging." Grissom grinned slightly, like a teenager caught playing hooky.
Then, to prove him wrong, his phone rang. Surprised, he answered it, his facial muscles tensing in anticipation of the Sheriff's wrath, "Grissom." Then he turned away from the others, his tone altering, becoming softer, "….yeah, I just figured that out. I can't talk now." With some urgency, he started to add, "You know you have…" Then remembering he had an audience, he changed his mind, "um…we'll figure something out…later." Then he closed his phone.
Catherine and Greg exchanged conspirator's glances, their curiosity piqued, for that was certainly not the Sheriff on the other end of the line. Who was Grissom talking to in that manner?
Attempting to avoid prying questions and getting right back to business, Grissom summarized, "So the question is, 'Where is the splatter?"
"According to Mr. Sands, they were forced up the back stairs at gun point." Gesturing in that direction, Catherine suggested, "Shall we?" The three climbed the stairs, following the presumed route of the victims. When they entered the large bedroom, they were greeted by Warrick, who was already processing the room.
"Hey, the thieves used gloves so I couldn't get any prints but there was no sign of forced entry. Most likely they had the combination to the gate. Since you guys were busy downstairs, I thought I'd start checking out the bedroom where the housekeeper found Mr. Sands and guests."
Sara slipped into the room, and inconspicuously joined the group.
Warrick continued, "Nick and I spoke at length and I tried to replay it. According to Mr. Sands, the thieves barged in, with guns. They roughed them up in the process of corralling them in this bedroom. But I'm finding some inconsistencies in his story."
Greg approached the large bed and pointed out the obvious, "Such as this blood splatter on the spread which most likely corresponds to Mr. Sand's injuries. That's odd, he'd be more likely to resist downstairs when the thieves first came in."
"But more importantly, it's not consistent with his story. What other holes have you found?" Catherine asked.
"Look around the room," Warrick suggested. "The housekeeper claims this room was in pristine condition around 8pm last night. She also mentioned that the thieves seem to have been familiar with the house, knowing exactly where the most valuable items were located, leaving the less expensive merchandise alone."
"This is certainly interesting," Sara gestured to several open beer bottles resting on top of a dresser. "Most hostages aren't in the mood to party."
"Several bottles have prints, some others, glove marks," Warrick revealed with a grin.
"Betcha we know who they belong to. Their DNA from the saliva on the rims will nail them for sure. What a bunch of morons," Catherine claimed. "You'd think a guy this rich could pay off the right people to pull off this type of scheme."
Grissom agreed, "I hate to say it, but I think we have the answer to this case. But as always, we're going to have to finish properly processing all the evidence, particularly given the sensitive political nature of the situation."
The others glumly agreed.
"GRISSOM!" The shout rang through the house.
"That must be the Sheriff," Grissom muttered. The group traveled back downstairs to the entryway, curious about the inevitable fireworks between the Sheriff and Grissom.
Waiting by the planter, the Sheriff was clearly annoyed, "Why have you been avoiding my calls! The governor is going nuts over this! I have to tell him something."
Grissom wryly added, "Well, he might have more to go nuts over."
"Oh no…" the Sheriff groaned. "Are you sure?"
Grissom explained, "We have strong evidence that suggests this robbery was staged. Most likely Mr. Sands was trying to recoup his financial loses through insurance fraud. But we still need to process all the evidence, to be thorough, you know that. We need to do our jobs properly. It would be irresponsible to mention any of this to the media at this time."
"You're coming with me to talk to the governor, right now," the Sheriff insisted.
Grissom hedged, "That's a bit premature. As I said, we need to complete our investigation."
The Sheriff simply stared at Grissom and stated, "You're driving."
Grissom realized that he wouldn't be able to convince the Sheriff otherwise so he followed him out the front door.
"Too bad Grissom doesn't have his car keys," Greg mumbled to Catherine, Warrick and Sara. Catherine studied Sara's reaction, seeing her eyes widen and her hand reaching for a bulge in her pants pocket. Her steps became faster to catch up with the men. Catherine discretely nodded towards Warrick and Greg, indicating that they should follow her out of the house. She was dying to know how Sara was going to give Grissom his keys and possibly his cell phone without attracting undue attention.
Once outside, Grissom's steps began to falter near the fountain, his dilemma dawning upon him. He quickly snuck a glance back towards Sara, who was ready, discretely patting her pocket. She reached in and attempted to nonchalantly toss his keys to him when the Sheriff wasn't looking. A loud splash indicated that Grissom had missed them.
"Busted!" Greg hissed as Catherine and Warrick nearly died laughing.