TITLE: Paint by Numbers

AUTHOR: Gomey (grissomsgnome@yahoo.com)

ARCHIVE: Anywhere . . . just let me know, so I can brag. Heheh. J/K

TYPE: GCR (what else?)

RATING: R (some sexual themes)

SPOILERS: *shrugs* Minute reference to Table Stakes (1-14)

DISCLAIMER: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.

SUMMARY: Catherine and Gil are called to investigate the murder of an up-and-coming artist and they soon realize that paint can't cover up everything.

NOTES: Work was extra slow today, and this idea came to me. Maan, I still have about two fics to finish and three other ideas a brewin'. Gah - so little time!

Cheers!

-------------

" . . . very much of the Van Gogh movement." Gil Grissom walked in, hearing the last statement of the owner of the gallery.

He stepped behind CatherineWillows, inhaling her scent; a habit he seemed to have picked up ever since the case against the brother and sister who fed a wealthy woman to piranhas. He smiled, the lingering smell still gently caressing his senses. "What did I miss?" He whispered in her ear.

Catherine straightened up, trying to fight the current that seemed to zap through her body every time her supervisor was near. She glanced over her shoulder, "You're late."

Gil leaned even closer. "You can punish me later." He smiled and began to inspect the surroundings, leaving the interrogation in the capable hands of Catherine. «God, how *I* would love to be in her capable hands. . . » He thought to himself, sensual images slowly making their way into his thoughts. He shook himself free of them, promising to return to such forbidden fantasies when his eyelids became weighted and the make-shift darkness of his sanctuary was undisturbed by outside factors.

Catherine watched as Gil went about with his examination, surprise written all over her face. She tuned out the owner's words, hoping that Jim Brass would fill her in later. She watched his every move: the way he would cock his head to the side, absorbing the information in front of him or the way he normally supported his weight on his right leg whenever met with a challenge he was enthusiastic to solve. Her eyes dropped to the ground, focussing on nothing of importance, but her mind kept building momentum, wondering why he was in such a playful mood as of late. She snapped her eyes to his: more importantly, were their flirtatious sessions getting more and more intense?

" . . . and she was very talented." The owner cleared his throat, looking deliberately at Catherine. "It's such a shame that she was taken from us." He looked towards her section, red dots in abundance danced across the walls, seeming to take their place beside each of her paintings.

Catherine nodded and walked the path lead by the owner's eyes. She read the brief description that lay suspended on the wall, near the entrance of the room. "Cassidy Jung, talented 29 year old girl from Canada. Moved here when she was 20 and worked for the last ten year to get recognized."She read aloud, sensing Gil coming towards her. "All sold." She didn't bother confirming his presence, she could feel his aura mingle with hers.

He smiled secretively at the strong bond the two shared. Since the day they met, some sixteen years ago, he could feel this natural attraction to the strawberry-blond beside him. The attraction may have started out composed of lust and intrigue, but friendship, admiration and love soon burst through the brick walls he had forced around himself. Like a mason, she had slowly began to chip away at the fortress that he had built and he wasn't sure whether to feel anger or pride. "Pain is good for art." He stated simply, his artistic eye developing with each painting his mind took in.

"Death is even better." Catherine remarked dryly. "Shall we go check out the body?"

***

"So, Mr. Harrison, how long have you known the deceased, Cassidy Jung?" Jim asked, fingering his notepad.

"Cassidy and I met at a community art class about two years ago." He stated. "We hit it off really well, both expressing our love for the beauty of Van Gogh."

Jim nodded. "And you own this gallery?" After Bill Harrison's nod, he continued. "When did her show start?"

"Two days ago." His eyes trailed to the sold paintings, pride playing his features. "She would have been so proud - she had worked so hard developing Van Gogh's technique, understanding his colour scheme and putting it to use."

Jim nodded. "When was the last time you saw her?"

"Two days ago, at her opening." Bill looked down. "After that, I figured she would be painting, keeping up with demand."

Jim nodded. "Do you have the coordinates of the buyers?" He took down all the information. "We'll be in touch."

***

Gil followed Catherine to the back room. They nodded to the police man who had secured the location and stepped underneath the yellow tape that separates pride from curiosity. Catherine wrinkled her nose, not sure what was making her feel even more nauseous: stale blood or turpentine. "God, how long has she been here?" Catherine asked, her hands mimicking Gil's gloved hands.

He bent down, looking at the victim up close: her eyes were still open, mouth slightly ajar. Her body lay naked, back facing the ceiling. Colours adorned her naked body, the paint now-crusted over laying limp against the deceased's skin. Gil grimaced, trying to make out bruising and discolouration from the gallons of paint that accosted the victim. "It's hard to say," he started, looking at her from all angles, "there's just so much paint on her."

Catherine was staring at the victim, noting her placement when Gil stood in front of her and bent down, travelling the same road as Catherine's hunch. Catherine was about to protest when her eyes were attracted to his butt and she felt her breathing grow deep. She tried to focus elsewhere, trying to control the ever-arousing sensation that left her tingling and gasping for more. «Focus, Willows!» She berated herself, bending down near Gil. "Gil." Catherine nodded towards a canvas splattered with an array of colours super-imposed over each other creating an extra skin on the canvas. Catherine took her camera out and took pictures of the victim and then took some of the painting. She let the camera hang from her neck and let her fingers glide over the bumpy texture. She took a step back, observing the size of the canvas. "This one is bigger than all of her other work." Catherine noticed, almost backing up into Gil. She stopped, barely feeling his hard chest against her back.

Gil dragged a hand across his face, rubbing his tired eyes. He looked back at the victim and bent down, motioning Catherine to join him. "Take a picture." He pointed to the victim's face. After the flash, he gently opened the deceased's mouth and both CSIs watched as a thick yellow liquid poured out of her mouth. Another flash went off, causing Gil to blink a few times. "Suicide?" Gil asked her. "Couldn't take the pressure of making it big?" He shrugged, other theories crossing his mind.

"The paint in her mouth is liquid, yet on her body is crusted." Catherine looked at Gil for a theory.

Gil shrugged. "Either the paint in her mouth could have been put there recently," he suggested looking around the room for a stash of paint cans and supplies, "or the mere action of closing her mouth could have kept the paint from drying out." He stood up and headed towards the supply area. "Paint hardens when it comes into contact with oxygen and changes in temperature."

"But when you die, your body temperature drops gradually as you near death." Catherine countered. "So, with her loss of body heat, I don't understand why the liquid hasn't solidified."

Gil shrugged and looked around the room. "Maybe somewhere the loss of body temperature was compensated by a, let's just say, artificial heat source?"

Catherine cocked her head to the side, pondering Gil's line of thought.

"We have paint." Gil gave her a lopsided grin. He glanced back at the painting and stared at it. Putting down the paint can he walked over and stood directly in front of the canvas. "Cath, come here."

Catherine walked up beside him.

"The paint here, in the middle," he pointed and then waved his hand to the side, "seems to be heading outwards."

Catherine nodded and then placed her hand beside Gil's. "If you look at the way it splattered, I'd say it was a pretty forceful . . . splurt."

The eyebrow mocked her silently. "Splurt?"

She mimicked the motion of the paint hitting the canvas and then splattering. "Splurt."

"But it's different from her style which is clearly 'Van Gogh-esque'." Gil commented. "And why just this spot . . . was she experimenting with a new style?"

"No, Cassidy looked up to Van Gogh, adopted his style - she wouldn't have betrayed him." The owner forced his way into the investigation.

"Do you know about this painting?" Gil asked, pointing behind him.

The owner shook his head. "No, she just said that it was going to blow me away. Again, you can see the frantic yet controlled brush strokes, each building up the intensity. The red and blue colours complement each other in a curious way; red is wild and passionate, blue is calm yet she mixed them perfectly to create this cool heat." The owner let out an exhilarate breath. His eyes fell on the yellow paint splashed on to the canvas. "Rome wasn't built in a day, but it burned in a couple of hours." He commented ironically. "It only takes a hint of a green stain on someone's soul to destroy another's vision."

"Could," Catherine paused, trying to remember the girl's name, "Cassidy have lost her temper and just let go?" She asked, looking at the emotion, so out of place.

"No, this painting *was* about release but not despair." The owner shook his head. "This was actually a storage room," he motioned the different cupboards and closets, as well as the pile of accumulating junk, "but Cassidy insisted that she be entitled to paint here. She said she felt in her element here." The owner shrugged, running a hand through his long black hair. "She even paid me for using the room, so who was I to complain?"

Gil nodded and strolled around, while Catherine stood looking at the painting. He glanced out the window, noticing a small fire-escape route beside the window. He opened the large window and stepped out, landing securely on the metal cris-crossed bars that composed the emergency route. His footsteps echoed as he walked to the end of the small balcony and then back to the window. The stairs leading to the road beside the art gallery was located about half-way between the end of the balcony and the window. He poked his head into the window. "Do you use this fire-escape?" He asked, leaning on the window sill.

"No, why would I need to?" He asked, slightly nervous.

"Okay." Gil nodded and looked at Catherine, a ghost of a smile dancing in his eyes.

She walked over to him with his kit. "I love it when we get to prove them wrong." She whispered devilishly.

He let out a chuckle, aroused at her dedication, and collected three strands of hair: two blond ones and one black one. He stepped back into the room and walked over to Catherine who was still taking a few more pictures. "I think David can handle the rest." He started to leave, closely followed by Catherine. "That painting," he turned to the owner, "will be taken to our labs. No one is to touch it."

The owner nodded and watched both CSIs leave.

***

Catherine and Gil joined Jim near their Tahoe. "David is collecting the body to bring it to Robbins, Catherine and I are heading back to the lab to work a few theories." He told Jim.

"Okay." He jerked his head in direction of the art gallery. "Says he hadn't see her in two days, when her show opened. I'm checking out some of the buyers."

Catherine nodded and stepped into the car, Gil following suite shortly after. Jim waved them goodbye and they headed to the lab. Gil looked over to Catherine, who was in the driver's seat. "Has anyone wondered how the paintings sold so fast?"

"An artist's demise is like winning the lottery, only you can't collect your prize." Catherine stated, quickly glancing at Gil.

"Remind me to look through the newspaper when we get to the lab." He stated, staring out the window.

—TBC—