Disclaimer: CSI belongs to a bunch of people, none of whom are me. I survive.

Spoilers: Right up to Play With Fire

A.N. I tried to be all poetic with thirteen POVs (I really had to stretch for some of them. It was strange who was easy and who was hard to do), but it was fun to write. Well, as fun as schizophrenia ever is anyway.

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~Thirteen on the Street~

::There comes a point in time when one must look back and realize that nothing one could have done would have changed the outcome. The journey to that point is often one of pain, doubt and suffering, but when it comes, there is peace::

My first thought wasn't for Greg. That will haunt me for the rest of my days. My first thought for the evidence, because it was irreplaceable. So is Greg of course, but my first thought wasn't for him. I worked so hard on this case, following every lead, tracing down every smidgen of evidence, fitting the pieces together. And all for naught. There were twelve other cases in that lab, and Greg worked on all of them. They are gone, and he is not, and I grieve the loss. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. Somewhere off the coast of Japan, a butterfly is laughing at me.

I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't turned away. I owe my life, or my face at least, to a laser printer which chose that particular moment in time to finally produce the results I'd been hounded repeatedly for. I thought it was my fault. It's my lab after all, and I should have been paying attention. Strange how I'd been feeling hemmed in by those walls, and now that they aren't there any more I'd give anything to have them, and the evidence they surrounded back again. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. I think my magazines were hidden in the cupboard underneath the fume hood.

I hate to admit it, but I am glad the lab blew up, or the selfish part of me is anyway. I would blow up the lab everyday if I got to hear him talk like that to me, and look at me that way. God, I am shallow. I'd blame it on the concussion, but that would be too easy. Nick looked at me like I was crazy tonight. Several times actually. The last time was when I was so unconcerned about the killer getting off on ridiculous technicalities, even thought we all knew he was guilty. He expected me to rant and rave and carry on like I usually do when a case goes awry. And ours wasn't the only one to go awry. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. There aren't any good movies on at three am on my television; I need satellite.

I've seen so many explosions. Eight millimetre, 35 millimetre, digital, it's all the same. And those are just the real ones. Star Trek stunts, Sci-fi movies, heck even animated cartoons are rife with them. It's different when you're close to one though. I couldn't see where it was coming from, but only so many labs have combustible materials, so I could narrow down a list of suspects. It was the smoke that gave it away, anything with that sort of smell could only come from the DNA lab. There was nothing I could do but exit, and then look for my friends and hope for the best. Afterwards, piecing together the security tape, I felt that I was making a difference, but it wasn't enough. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. I need to find a different kind of video game.

Part of me is glad it wasn't my fault this time. I've had enough of IA to last a lifetime. Who hasn't? I feel responsible though. I was right there with her. I should have said "Hey Catherine, you should check that hot plate", but I didn't because it was time to go home, and I was hungry and tired and felt I'd done enough for the county for one day. I'll never forget the expression on her face when she set down that last overhead, the one that condemned her with a perfect dispersal of tiny green dots. They sent me home after we'd finished our investigation, so I didn't get to try and put any of the damaged cases back together. I don't think it will help much. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. I wish I was at work right now.

They wanted it to be me. I could see that right away. I acted offended, and most of me was, but I understand. I'm new. I have the least connections. Everyone else has been here so long. It would be much easier to stop trusting me than it would be to stop trusting one of them. I thought it would have been Greg's fault. He's been so insufferable lately. Maybe losing his precious lab (and his precious magazines) will bring him down a peg or two. It's not like he's the only one who lost evidence today. A lot of my work is gone too. Work that would have put people away for breaking the law. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. If I took those ridiculous CDs and blamed the explosion, do you think he would notice?

It was a perfectly good day. Crimes were being committed, police were being called, scenes were being analyzed and evidence was being processed. And my lab was number two in the country. Then suddenly, everything blew up in my face; almost literally, as I was on my way in when I was paged. My first thought of course was for the evidence. People have legs, evidence doesn't. I hoped frantically that some of the former would help remove the latter from the building. My second thought was who to blame. It would have to be someone of course, or our reputation would suffer. My third thought was how on earth we were going to cope with the defense lawyers. They were going to have a field day with this, and their clients would benefit. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. I wonder when the new rankings come out.

I told him it was art, and I wasn't kidding. It took me years to develop the eye for this. A less experienced tech would never have found a match, and I got it down to 19 possibilities without even reaching for my magnifying glass. Like any form of art, mine is open to interpretation. If break room scuttlebutt is right, then most people are interpreting it as guilty, but lawyers have a distressing habit of ignoring the obvious to the bitter end. I poured a lifetime of work into my art today, and in the end, the exhibition didn't find me a buyer. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. Catherine still owes me a beer, but this is probably the wrong time to collect.

I hadn't made a run like that since high school. I'd forgotten how much I hated it. It's one of the main reasons I didn't play in college. I ran up those stadium stairs carrying a fume tent so we could print a really recently deceased corpse. That happens maybe one in a million times. OK, probably more because it's happened to me four times now, including tonight. Our innocent victim ended up not being so innocent, but in Vegas that's to be expected. We got a print, then a match, then a killer, and then we couldn't get him because the lab exploded and melted our fingernail clipper. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. There are days when I hate the constitution.

When shifts end badly he always talks to me. I'm not sure why that is. Maybe it's because he feels confined to the lab and to science, while I have free run of the streets and access to people. I'll switch him, but I don't think he'd like that. I wish I did have a handle on the streets, especially after nights like this. A whole host of people we might have locked away will be back out there causing trouble. There's only so much my guys can do. There's only so much I can do. Maybe it's his way of warning me. Or apologizing for not doing his job. Except that tonight he did, and legalities and loopholes won the day. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. I'm off the book and out of brandy.

Today was my lucky day. Some scientist blows up their own lab, and I walk for a murder they know I committed. When my hands were around her neck I considered the possibility that I would go back to prison, and that the boys would get me for what I did, or didn't do I guess. But I didn't stop. It had been so long since I had been able to do that to someone that I wanted to keep going, regardless of where I ended up. They were so smug about the whole nail clipping thing. They thought they had me. They did too, until the explosion. Thank God for small mercies. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. Maybe I'll go to another state and try my luck again.

If I had been anyone else, this wouldn't have happened. The others would have waited for the room to open, and checked in their evidence before they left. They don't have anyone to go home to. But I am me, and like everything else I do, a simple decision resulted in a mess. I can blame it on Eddie, or lack thereof, but that would be lying. I was in too much of a rush to check the container I was storing an unknown poison in, and now I have to pay the price. It would be much easier if only I had to pay. Greg paid, Sara paid, and so did the people who knew the victims of the cases that were under scrutiny in that room. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate. This kind of sleep is too expensive.

My mother always warned me I end up in trouble. I think I agreed with her, but I did whatever I wanted anyway. You know that little voice inside your head that screams when you make a bad decision? Well, mine screamed itself hoarse and gave up. But it had a certain zest to it, so I didn't give it up until the end. And by that time, it was much too late. My life didn't flash before my eyes, and I'm glad it didn't. Living it once was bad enough. I know you tried to get him for it, but he's not worth losing focus on the rest of the world. That's what I did, and look where it got me. Make sure you keep going. There will be other nails, other drugs and other gangs. Thirteen people will walk tonight, and all because of a hot plate.

But I forgive you.

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A.N. Well that was fun. Note to self: keep number of POVs in single digits, preferably below 2. R&R please.