Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them; any others are mine, and if you want to play with them, you have to ask me first. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

This is in response to an improv challenge at the Unbound forums. Um...the first and last lines were givens.

Spoilers: none

"So, how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?" Brass asked.

"It's not a woodchuck, Jim," Grissom said patiently. "It's a cavy." He set the box on the counter.

"Right," Brass said, raising his brows. "And what's a cavy?"

"A rodent," Hodges cut in eagerly. Maybe this time he could impress Grissom.

"Not exactly," Grissom corrected, dashing Hodge's hopes. "They're classified as rodents, but their young are born furred and with their eyes open. To the layman, Jim, it's a guinea pig."

"He," Nick said, leaning over to look in the box. "Boris here is definitely a male."

As if competing, Brass' and Grissom's pagers went off at the same instant, producing a stereo chorus of beeps. Both men glanced down at the little units and turned for the door. "Nick, you explain," Grissom said over his shoulder, and Hodges sighed as his supervisor vanished.

"Right." Nick folded his arms. "We found this little fellow at a car crash in the mountains. He had cocaine on his fur, and there was cocaine in the car, so we think he might have been in the car when it wrecked."

"Interesting," Hodges drawled. "But what does that have to do with me?"

"We need to match soil samples too. Boris could just be somebody's escaped pet."

Hodges frowned. "Samples from what?"

Nick smirked. "The car and the cavy."

"Let me get this straight," Hodges said, squinting at Nick in disbelief. "You have soil samples from the underside of a car and the underside of that...that rodent, and you want me to see if they match."

"You got it." Nick reached into the box to give the guinea pig one last scratch behind the ears. "Except the soil's still on Boris here. We already swabbed him for the coke, but you get to collect the soil yourself." His voice was laced with amusement. "Have fun."

"Can I euthanize it first?" Hodges asked as Nick headed for the door.

"No, man, he's evidence!" Nick gave the shorter man a peculiar look and left.

"Great. Just great," Hodges muttered. A scrabbling noise came from the box, and he leaned over to look inside. As he watched, the guinea pig jerked a strip of cardboard from the box wall and began chewing on it.

Hodges sighed, and picked up the box. He needed the counter space. Putting the container in the corner, he decided to work on the car sample first.

Twenty minutes later, a voice broke into his concentration. "So where's the pig?"

Hodges jerked his head up, nearly bumping his nose on the microscope. "What?"

Sara stood nearby, holding a plastic bag with something green in it. "The guinea pig, Hodges. Where is he? I brought him some lunch."

As much as Hodges liked to have beautiful women hanging around his lab, Sara was a problem. Nothing escaped her, and while he was very good at what he did, he never liked the feeling that she would catch any slip he made. "Nobody ever brings me lunch."

Sara eyed him, unamused. "No surprise there."

He sighed heavily, which she ignored, as usual. "It's in the box over there." He pointed, and returned to his slide.

"Um, Hodges..."

He didn't look up. "My name's David, actually."

"He's not here."

Hodges lifted his head slowly, dread percolating through his veins. "What?"

Sara lifted the box, which now had a ragged hole in one corner. "He's gone."

"Oh, sh--" He cut himself off. "I didn't get the samples yet!"

"That's a problem," Sara said, brows going up. "Well, the door was closed when I came in. He's gotta be around here somewhere."

"Probably chewing on an electrical cord, the little vermin," Hodges groused. Panic was beginning to set in.

"What do you expect if you don't feed him?" Sara got down on her hands and knees and began peering behind equipment. One part of his mind was enjoying the view, but most of it was babbling at him about losing evidence and disappointing his boss, whom he couldn't seem to please anyway... He sank down to start looking himself.

"Here, Boris," Sara coaxed. "Lunch is served!" She leaned over to look behind the mass spectrometer. "Boris?"

Something moved on the edge of Hodge's vision. Spinning on his knees, he saw a bunchy form waddling quickly across the floor, heading for shelter under one of the stools. He scurried after it and made a snatch.

The warm, soft body, surprisingly lithe, squirmed in his hands. Scratchy feet pushed, and suddenly the cavy was free. Hodges reached for it again, and saw stars as his head smacked into the leg of the table. "Ow!"

He sat down abruptly and put both hands to his forehead, blinking furiously. As the flashes cleared from his vision, he saw Sara cuddling the guinea pig in her arms. "You got him."

She looked up, and her expression shifted from soft to annoyed, and then slid towards sympathy. "Yeah. You okay?"

He shrugged. "I don't know." He hoped she would help him up, but instead she stood up and vanished from his line of sight. Groaning, he hauled himself upright.

The sudden touch of cold against his hand made him start. "Here," Sara said. Ice shifted under paper in his palm as she stepped away.

Hodges sat down heavily on one of the stools, watching as Sara placed the cavy on his spotless counter and piled leaves of spinach in front of the animal. "Hold still, Boris," she cooed, grabbing a swab from a drawer. "I just need to check your tummy..."

He winced as he put the ice pack against his head.