Author's notes: I'm aware I will go to that big writer's hell deep inside the burning core of the Earth for not updating this in ages. on her knees Please forgive me!
Huge thanks to all the people that reviewed. I'm posting this because you insisted and wanted to know the end. For the wait I decided to change the ending I had in mind months ago and add a little angelic wickedness. All I'm saying is that The End is not always THE END. Bare that in mind. . .
Kestin, if you're reading this, sorry for the 2 day delay.
Now I'll shut up and let you read. I hope I don't disappoint you. Tell me if I did, I deserve the flames. Hell, I deserve to be burnt alive!
June 2006. Note from the Fic Maintenance Unit (the author): I fixed the formatting so that there weren't ten lines of white between each paragraph break. When I first posted this the story looked ok, I have no idea what happened later. One theory: my paragraphs were getting sick of each other and decided they all needed "space" to think about things.
"You're sooo going, man," Warrick interjects.
"Why me? Why not you?"
Catherine, Sara and Grissom's heads swirl towards Warrick. He presses his lips together and narrows his eyes. Warrick decides to end the would-be long argument as Nick and him always did. He lifts up his fist; the gauntlet has been thrown down. Nick takes up the challenge again and raises his fist, hoping for a better luck with aquatic related activities.
One, two, three. Paper and scissors.
"Damn it!" a male voice says.
A bunch of lizards that were, up until that moment sleeping under the Nightshift's cabin sneak away from the site and scurry under another screaming-free cabin. God only knows which sort of demented creatures lived above but there wasn't a lizard in the world that could rest with such racket.
Nick stomps his foot on the wooden floor several times to accompany each curse.
"Darn it! I'll be damned! FU—"
"Whoa! Time out," Catherine interrupts, making a 'T' gesture with her hands, useless given their pitch-black condition.
Nick whines in the darkness. "Two out of three?"
"Soldier on, Nick," Grissom encourages while he gropes in the dark and grasps somebody's shoulders. He guides the person to the door. "Let's go."
"I'm Sara, Griss," she says, smiling.
Grissom frowns. "I knew Nick wasn't so scrawny."
Locating Nick, Grissom steers him toward the door at the same time Warrick opens it. A faint light coming from one weak light post enters the room, illuminating less than a foot inside the cabin.
Nick stands on the porch and swivels his head around to evaluate the adverse weather conditions.
Rain pours behind him as if God had opened the sky's faucet. Noah's Arc is going to pad pass anytime now with a couple of giraffes sticking out of its roof.
Indeed, the rainstorm is of biblical proportions.
And he is supposed to WALK to the Tahoe in this kind of apocalyptic-end-of-life-as-we-know-it weather?
Can you say 'no FREAKING way'?
Plus, he thinks, when a gust of wind chills a certain part of his anatomy, it's cold.
He turns around to find the faces of his teammates. Their facial expressions tell him loud and clear that The Fates have pointed their bony index fingers at him, and he must rescue 'Queen Flashlight' from the 'Stinky Tahoe Haunted Castle' located deep into the 'Magic Parking Lot Woods'.
Ok, no more Tolkein for me, Nick reminds himself.
His chest swells with air as he musters the necessary courage to undertake the daunting task.
His chest deflates quickly.
God, who is he kidding? It's creepy outside. He'd been afraid of sprinklers until he age of five for Chirssake! He's still terrified of doves! (long story). There's no way he's going to step a foot outside.
Nick squirms. His mind frantically searches for a viable excuse to get out of this mess.
"I could I die of pneumonia or get charred by lightening, you know? If that happens I can assure you that my scorched ghost will come from the other side to hunt you fore--"
"Here, use this as a protection," Sara says as she stretches her arm out barely beyond the doorway.
Sara hands him the curtain and swiftly snaps her arm inside the warm cabin, wringing her hands to get them warm again.
The curtain is patterned with small ducks with weird LSD looking eyes.
Nick eyes the curtain unconvincingly and then glowers at Sara.
He glances back at the raging storm behind him. For a second he thinks he sees a cow fly by, mooing confusedly, followed by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton's red pick-up from the movie 'Twister' and then maybe Dorothy and Toto too.
He looks at his fellow CSIs, all huddled together in the doorway. Nick lifts up the shower curtain.
"You toss me into a hell of a storm in my pyjamas and a crappy shower curtain? What kind of friends are you?"
A series of mumbled 'good luck's' and the slam of the rickety door constitutes Nick's answer.
Nick scowls and then frowns. Finally he makes a tortured squeal, like a puppy who's sitting alone in the Pet Shop after all its brothers were taken.
"Fine! Let me die!" Nick shouts at the door. "The team is NOTHING without me!"
Nick ignores the hysterical laughter on the other side of the door. He flaps the curtain over his head and starts his journey.
After struggling with the whipping wind, trying desperately to keep his clothes on and rummaging inside the Tahoe that now smelled like a flock of birds with the runs had used it as a common bathroom, Nick grips in his hand the coveted flashlight.
" . . .And my tombstone shall say 'He lived honorably and died stupidly while getting a flashlight in the middle of a Hurricane'," Nick says as he approaches the team's cabin.
Still using the bathroom curtain as a shelter he steps onto the porch. He raps twice on the door, turns on the flashlight and proceeds to push the door open.
"Here's the damn flashlight! Now let's stop the shaking!" Nick says as he pans the beam around the room.
Unfortunately, Nick gets confused when the beam illuminates a pretty overweight woman with pink curlers dotting her hair. She hugs her covers closely to her chest, attempting to cover her almost transparent nightgown.
No need, Nick thinks as he shields his eyes from the offensive view that reminds him too much of his aunt Lolly and a misfortunate room mix-up one fateful summer night.
"Ahhhhhh!" the woman screams with the power of a soprano opera singer, almost blowing Nick's hair out of its roots.
Still with his eyes firmly closed Nick stumbles out and slams the door behind him. He leans on the door and pants heavily.
After catching his breath he shouts, "Sorry ma'am! Wrong cabin!"
He wipes the sweat of his brow in a 'close shave' gesture.
Sara bolts upright from Grissom and Warrick's bed. "Did you hear that scream?"
Without opening his eyes or shifting from his impossibly great position on his cushy bed Grissom says, "Sara, you're way over the overtime limit this month. I don't care if Chuck himself is being sliced and diced with a Ginsu knife by his brother so he can inherit this goldmine of a business, you are not going to leave this cabin."
Before Sara can argue someone knocks at the door.
"That has to be Nick," Warrick says as he pads towards the door. "What's the secret password?" he asks.
From the other side Nick yells, "Open the door right now or I swear I'll make you chew your own hair and hang you from a beam by your eyelashes."
Warrick nods, "That's the one." He lets in Nick, who surprisingly isn't as wet as Warrick thought he'd be.
Catherine walks up to Nick. "Finally, our problems are solved."
Feeling deja vù all over again, the team is huddled closely together; almost cheek-to-cheek as they stare in disbelief at the sight the beam points at.
Grissom mimics Catherine's voice, making all the faces a nine year old would do to his kid sister after she squealed bloody murder for a slight pull of the hair.
"Finally our problems are solved!" Grissom said in a high-pitched voice, gesticulating wildly.
Catherine smacks him in the back of the head. Grissom gapes at her, baffled. One hand covering the back of his head wondering if Catherine had swat him with a rock.
"Quiet children," Sara commands, and the squabbles end.
Sara shakes her head from side to side. "Oh man, I'm so gonna skin that disgusting Chucky alive."
"The toxic vapors from the Tahoe messed up my eyesight," Nick concludes, shaking his head as well. "This cannot be right."
"This is worse than Camp Moose when Randy Kowalski took up archery and the camp had to change its name to Camp Squirrel," Grissom says.
Four heads and the beam of light turn towards him, utterly puzzled.
Catherine gapes at him.
"Who cares about a damn moose and a squirrel Grissom? The goddamned plug is glued to the outlet!" Catherine complains. "This bed is going to be shaking all night long!"
Grissom reaches the limits of his patience. In his mind's eye he sees a roadblock with a sign that says 'Limit of Gil Grissom's patience. Keep going and die'.
"OK! OK! OK! Take our bed! You want my pyjamas too? 'Cuz I'd sleep naked, I don't care, I just want to sleep!" Grissom says.
Catherine and Sara exchange glances and smile to each other.
"OK," they say, beaming at Grissom. After blowing him two 'thank you' kisses, the females hastily make their way to Grissom and Warrick's former bed and disappear under the covers.
The three men stand up and stare at the shaking bed. Nick points at it with the flashlight. He shrugs and leaps towards the bed but Warrick clutches the collar of his shirt in mid-leap. Nick makes a chocked sound, like a chicken who's neck has been squeezed by a hand.
"Don't even think of it, Nick," Warrick says, hustling Nick back to his position.
Nick whines. Warrick growls, ever territorial.
Nick and his wounded ego retreat to their stinky couch, vowing to take revenge.
Grissom trudges to the bed and sits on it for a bit. He frowns as he decides whether the shaking is a good or a bad thing.
He feels as if his internal organs were being rearranged.
He turns pale.
"I don't like this kind of shaking," he states.
Grissom and Warrick sleep peacefully on the mattress while the bed keeps on shaking and whirring energetically. After two seconds of discussion both men opted for tossing the mattress on the floor and sleeping there. Never mind if there were roaches or other creepy crawlers.
At least the floor wasn't shaking.
After sleeping for half an hour Nick shifts restlessly on his couch, trying to arrange his limbs in a comfortable way. When he rolls over with more force than intended, the Texan is awakened by a snap and a crack.
The couch tilts to one side and Nick's back slides slowly towards the floor until his head connects with the floorboards. Then, the motion stops.
Nick laughs quietly for a while, unable to believe what just happened. "Oh, this is just. . . priceless. This. . . this is great. Lovely."
Nick's long miserable sigh is the only sound that is heard apart from the rain.
"Guys?" Nick asks.
"Forget it, " Warrick says, foreseeing Nick's intentions of moving to the bed.
"Am I supposed to sleep like this? It's tilted. I'm not a freaking bat. . . Grissom?"
"He's asleep," Warrick snaps in a shut-up-let-me-sleep tone.
"Great. Warrick, scoot to one side a bit, I don't need a lot of space, I'm like a toothpick, you say that all the time. You won't even know I'm there—"
"In your dreams, Sparky," Grissom mumbles. "I'm not sleeping with two men in one bed. Things might touch."
Grissom and Warrick shudder and move further away from each other.
Nick whines loudly.
"You can sleep here Nicky," Sara offers, patting noisily at her mattress. "Between Cath and me."
The three men bolt up from their lying positions. "What?"
Sara starts to giggle. "Gotcha!"
Her giggle turns into a hysterical laughter that lasts for five minutes. Finally she starts coughing and clearing her throat, her sides hurt.
She yawns. "That was fun," she whispers as she rolls to her side and prepares to sleep.
"You're such a tease, Snoopy," Nick mutters.
An hour later fate decides to give Sara a taste of 'what goes around, comes around' for teasing Nick and she wakes up with the urging need to pee.
Damn her bladder and all the urinary system! She never wakes up in the middle of the night when she is at her apartment. Why break a 30-year-old pattern now? Huh, why?
Because she is in a filthy cabin, that's why. People always have to pee in the worst of times and places.
She gropes for the Nonoxinol-9, her shinny sword against bacteria.
No need to fling covers off her, Catherine has, once again, kidnapped them all.
Sara had tried to snatch them from her tight grasp but the woman was a sheet-monopolizing bitch. Pardon her French. She loves Cath as a friend but come on! Loosen up a little, they're sheets, not her firstborn!
Sara slips her socked feet into her shoes and feels her way to the bathroom.
She hears a powerful snort and for a moment she thinks there's a dying cow inside the cabin. She freezes and listens.
It turns out to be Warrick.
"Now I know why he doesn't have a girlfriend," Sara whispers to herself, "The guy snores like a mammoth."
When she comes back from the bathroom trip Sara is not aware of the daredevil raccoon that is balancing precariously on the beam above her bed.
She crawls back into her bed and attempts, once more, to acquire at least a square foot of covers.
Placing her feet on Catherine's back, she tugs at one tip of the covers.
"C'mon," she whispers, grunting as she pulls with all her might.
Catherine growls in her sleep and jerks the covers from Sara's grasp. Sara, light thing that she is, topples backward onto the ground with a thud.
Muttering all the obscenities she can recall, she climbs on the bed again. Giving her back to the bulge of covers that is Catherine, Sara pouts and curls up her bruised body into a ball.
A covers-less ball, she adds.
Yeah, Sara, a covers-less ball.
Suddenly, something quite heavy lands on Sara's head.
It squeaks. Sara sucks in a breath only to release it a second later. . .
"Ahhhhhhhhh," Sara screams as she stands up on the bed and starts to prance in a circle, utterly terrified.
Catherine is bounced off the bed by Sara's crazy jumping.
(Don't worry, with all the covers she has wrapped around herself you could toss her from the Empire State's top floor and the blond could bounce safely back to the top or a nearby building. She might break a few windows but she'll come out unharmed).
The raccoon panics and squeals, mimicking Sara's scream.
After all, all he was doing was walking on the beam, minding his own business when BAM! His back paw erred the way and he precipitated to the ground, landing on something hairy that jumped and . . .. Well, it was all very confusing, from a raccoon's point of view.
Everyone wakes up mumbling, "What? What is it?"
The raccoon leaps from Sara's head and streaks away into the bathroom. Sara reaches for her Nonoxinol-9 and flings it at the furry thing.
Or at something.
"Ahhhhhhgoddammit!" a male voice screams.
Nick quickly grabs the flashlight. After panning it wildly for a moment, the beam points at a distressed Sara. She's standing on the bed looking completely, 100, absolutely grossed out.
Nick lowers the beam, following her gaze, until it connects with Grissom.
Grissom is half asleep and rubbing his head. "What the crap is going on! Every time I doze off the damn world collapses! And what in GOD'S GREEN EARTH HIT ME?"
Nick shifted the beam back to Sara who is now covering her mouth in a shocked expression.
Nick catches the movement near the bathroom and yells, "It's in the bathroom!"
Catherine wriggles out of her sheet roll, runs and closes the door with a bit more force than intended.
The handle winds up in her hand. "Oopsy."
"Oopsy? Why oopsy?" Warrick says, starting to panic.
Catherine turns around and shows the doorknob. "It. . .fell off."
The cabin stays in silence until they all hear a laughter-like squeaking and squealing from the bathroom, along with some splashing of water.
Grissom snorts. "Oh well, doesn't this cap it all? Now we're going to have to sleep with a freaking raccoon frolicking inside our bathroom. I am never leaving my townhouse again!"
With that, he collapses on the bed again and is fast asleep while the rest of the team stands in their places.
"Grissom?" Warrick shakes his boss by the shoulder, fearing he might have fainted. He's rewarded with a grunt and a snore.
Nick turns off the flashlight. "You heard the boss. Time to sleep. Raccoon or not."
Ahhh, the bright morning, the start of another day.
Everything is peaceful inside the Nightshift's Cabin. The raccoon sleeps soundly on the sink after a long night of play.
Outside the bathroom, golden shafts of light streak through the blinds, revealing . . .well . . .where to start?
Warrick is sleeping diagonally on the mattress, arms and legs sprawled, mouth cutely parted with not so cute drool dripping from it. After hours of unconscious nudging, elbowing and kicking, Warrick Brown succeeds in expelling his boss from the mattress, except for one of Grissom's feet, which is pretty close to Warrick's face. He doesn't seem to mind.
Grissom lays sprawled on the floor. Apparently he looks quite happy and comfortable. He's using a pair of Sara's red and blue striped socks as a makeshift pillow.
Two hours ago Nick finally discovered a way to sleep. He moved his tired body from the stinky couch to the small table. He's in the same position in which he collapsed two hours ago: head slightly lolling from one edge of the table, arms and legs sprawled at different angles.
All we see of Catherine is her hair. She continues to selfishly posses all the covers and believe it or not three-quarters of the bed.
Sara, despite how feisty she is when she's awake, can't hold her ground on a bed.
Sara is lying face down, one long leg on the mattress (because the other doesn't fit in the slit of mattress Catherine had left her) the other bent at the knee and on the floor, keeping Sara from rolling off again. Snoopy Sidle hugs her bottle of Nonoxinol-9 as if it were her long lost Teddy bear, Bubblegum, whom she deeply adored from the age of 2 to 8.
Sara mumbles something and shifts, accidentally spraying herself in the face and oh-o, crumpling to the ground.
"Ouch," she moans.
Again, everyone bolts upright but a bit more slowly now. Several seconds pass before their sleepy brains process the events.
After several yawns and head scratching they all mumble a disjointed cacophony of 'What? Hello? Where am I?'
Sara squishes her eyes close and moans. "I sprayed myself!" Sara says barely able to open her stinging eyes.
Grissom runs his hand on the bump on his head.
"That bottle is dangerous to human kind," he says and frowns when Sara stares at him.
"I know, my hair isn't pretty in the mornings," Grissom says, running a self-conscious hand through his ruffled hair.
"It's not that, Griss. What the hell are you doing with my socks?"
While the team prepares to leave there are a few . . . wet surprises.
Sara and Grissom sleepily pad towards their bags while Nick, Warrick and Catherine discuss how are they going to change if the bathroom is closed. Their conversation is interrupted by Sara and Grissom's voices.
"Jesus Lord NO!"
Catherine, Warrick and Nick turn around and ask, "What?"
"My clothes are all soaked," Sara and Grissom said in unison, wringing their pants and watching the water drip down from their pants to their knuckles and finally to the floor.
Nick chuckles. "Oh this is good."
After Warrick convinced Grissom that gutting Nick like a fish would not make his clothes dry, those who had their clothes dry changed while the rest covered their eyes.
When they're all ready, the strange procession of ill-slept CSIs trudges to the door with promises of not leaving their homes again; strong hopes of never returning and desires of cutting Chuck's head off and setting the whole place on fire.
They stand in the doorway, scanning the cabin that had housed them for the night. Suddenly when they are all starting to spin on their heels and walk away to never EVER come back, the bed stops shaking for the first time in nine hours.
"That did not happen," Grissom says stoically and closes the door without looking back.
While Warrick waits around the car, Sara, Catherine, Nick, and Grissom walk into Chuck's cabin where a fierce battle is being fought. The fat lady is quite agitated; it seems she's been screaming her head off at the half-brained Chuck for a while, obviously with nothing more than rhythmic absent nods from the manager.
" . . .There's nothin' I can do ma'am," Chuck insists as he pops in two nachos into his mouth and chews them loudly.
"What? But I'm telling you! You have a sex maniac in this place of yours!"
Nick purses his lips in a silent whistle, turns on his heel and walks away.
Not noticing Nick's exit, Sara strolls calmly towards the vending machine while Catherine and Grissom continue towards the counter where the fat lady is.
Chuck turns to Catherine, flagrantly ignoring the outraged yapping of the fat lady.
"This place is crawling with nutcases!" she says and stalks away.
She stops at the sight of Sara, in her Snoopy pyjamas, spraying her Nonoxinol-9 on the vending machine's buttons. Feeling a pair of eyes on her, Sara slowly swivels her head around and regards the woman with her grouchiest expression.
"What? I lost the other one," she says and keeps hitting the Snickers logo.
"Lunatics!" the fat lady screams again as she stomps down the stairs. "Snoopy pyjamas and flashlight sexual predators!"
Chuck shrugs in a what-can-you-do gesture and pops three nachos into his mouth.
"You're in your pyjamas," Chuck understates, spitting bits of nachos over him as he speaks.
Grissom looks down at himself, sickened. He cleans his pyjamas with one violent wipe of his hand and stares at Chuck and his nachos as they swirl around his open mouth, like clothes inside a washing machine.
"I guess evolution can go backwards," Grissom mutters.
"Oh, aren't we in a bitchy mood," Chuck says.
"We are leaving. Here are your keys and your money," Grissom said without a smile as he drops both on the filthy counter besides the nachos.
"You're leaving? So soon?" Chuck sounds honestly sad.
Grissom doesn't give a rat's ass.
"Yeah, I have to get my legs waxed," Grissom mutters as he heads to the door, tapping Sara on the shoulder on his way to let her know they were leaving. Catherine follows Grissom but turns around at the doorway.
"Oh, and you have a raccoon locked inside your bathroom," Catherine adds, before disappearing outside.
"Nick, you go out front with Cath. I'm trading you for Grissom," Sara says, grasping Grissom's pyjamas from the shoulder and hustling him towards her, like her toy of choice to hug on the trip.
Grissom looks at her but makes no attempt to speak for himself. What Sara is requesting is just fine with him.
Warrick leans over Nick and takes a cautious sniff. When the smell reaches his brain he leaps back and screws up his face.
"Lord have mercy on us! You reek!"
Warrick hides behind Grissom and grasps the fabric of his pyjamas from the other shoulder.
"I want Grissom too," Warrick concurs.
Grissom's upper lip lifts slowly upward in a controlled disgusted gesture.
Sara saying 'I want you' is kind of exiting for Grissom but Warrick… After they had slept on the same bed?
Grissom thinks he has to break a wild horse or hunt for something furry and edible with a spear to retrieve his lost masculinity.
He shrugs off Warrick's hand. He doesn't shrug off Sara's hand, though.
"You're exaggerating," Nick says with a dismissive wave of his hand.
Sara's face turns serious, or as serious as it can turn given the fact that she's clad in Snoopy pyjamas.
"Nick, you smell like food that's been in the fridge for too long and has things growing on it," Sara explains patiently.
Nick gapes at her, hurt.
"It was that damn couch—It's not my fault!" he says, moving Grissom out of the way to climb into the back seats.
Sara doesn't let him and moves Grissom back to where he is, which is, blocking one of the back doors.
After being manhandled for two minutes while Warrick and Sara convinced Nick he really truly smelled, Grissom shouts a few orders and in the snap of a finger they all scrambled into the car and the Tahoe was heading back towards Las Vegas.
Catherine had been the one who got the most sleep so she was the designated driver.
"It wasn't so bad," Catherine says, fifteen minutes into their driving. "I don't feel tired. You guys?"
She turns around.
Sara's is using Grissom's shoulder as a pillow while he uses Warrick's shoulder as a pillow. The three of them are sound asleep. Nick is slouched on the passenger seat, sill stinking but looking cuter than ever.
"Never mind," she says.
Go pet your cat/dog.
Ok, let me think.
Maybe Ilied before.
You got me, you CSI-in-the-making, you.
Yes, one more thing happened before the end . . .
The Tahoe jerks and surges forward. All its sleeping passengers are flipped in the air like human pancakes.
Sara winds up with her torso wedged between the back of the front seat and the front of the back seat. Grissom is catapulted forward and ends up hugging the handbrake while Warrick flies to the right and lands over Grissom's back suddenly wearing Sara's legs as a scarf. Nick is lifted in the air and then dropped on the seat again, feet over the dashboard and head where his butt is supposed to rest.
In the middle of I-15 a once blue Tahoe wobbles to grinding halt.
"Heeeeeeey!" Sara's muffled voice says. "A quarter!"
"I think I won't be able to have children," Grissom mumbles against the handbrake.
Ignoring her co-workers, Catherine pokes her head out the window and then snaps it back in. She looks worried.
"Oh boy. We got a flat tire," she announces.
Sara's muffled voice is heard again. She sounds like she's under the car and not inside it. "So? I know how to change a flat."
"We don't have a spare tire," Catherine adds.
Grissom sniffed, he's about to cry.
"Ok," Sara's voice replied.
Sara pauses and then, very, very confidently she asks:
"You're kidding me right?"