CSI: Survivor Style

Disclaimer: The characters aren't mine – no, really, you thought they were? Huh. Right.

Summary: The gang head on over to Canada to compete in the International CSI Outward Bound Competition and find themselves dropped in the middle of the wilderness, having to raid enemy camps and make dirty plans to win the money for their lab. They bond.

A/N: This idea came about after watching Survivor, though since then it's sort of strayed from the original plot I'd thought up. The concept is still there, however, and thus the title. Many thanks to Ash and Amorith, who despite their busy schedules have managed to show me once again what awesome betarerer's they are. Oh yeah, I love it when people review…

Sunday – Day 1, 00:47

Sara sighed and squinted through the darkness.  From her position in the treetops she was fairly certain that she'd be able to see any unwelcome movement around their campsite without anyone realising she was up there watching.  She'd been on sentry duty for precisely three hours and she found it a challenge to keep up her concentration when nothing appeared to be happening. She knew, however, that as soon as she dropped her guard or began to drift off that that was when one of the other teams would strike. It was her sense of pride that wouldn't allow their camp to be over taken when she was on guard. So, instead of closing her eyes and risking a little 'nap' she shifted on the small platform in the tree and breathed in the fresh Canadian air to waken herself up.

They'd arrived one-day prior, after they'd each worked a triple shift to finish up all the cases they'd been working on. To say they were tired when they finally arrived would be the understatement of the year.

Although it was technically a game everyone who was involved in the CSI Outward Bound Competition knew that winning was the only option.  This was the first year that the project was up and running and the prize money given to the winning lab was too good to say no to. Thus was the reason that Gil Grissom insisted that he, Sara Sidle, Catherine Willows, Warrick Brown, Nick Stokes and even DNA specialist Greg Sanders, would be the ones to represent the Las Vegas CSI's.  The Sheriff had agreed they were the best group for the job and had gone to certain measures to ensure that the entire team had finished their cases in time and weren't assigned to any new ones before they left. 

After the teams' initial excitement had died down they all realised the enormous amount of pressure that they had resting upon their shoulders, and after hearing exactly what they were in for they'd all become a little nervous.

The competition, it turned out, had nothing to do with being the 'better' CSI team – but focussed more on their ability to work together, as a group, and achieve the best results – in the middle of the British Columbian wilderness.  They were competing against three other teams and had been dropped off in the middle of nowhere and told to set up camp.  They were given a number of different 'treasures' that they would have to guard for the week.  The idea of the game was for each team to find and retrieve as many of the other teams' treasures as possible by the end of the seven-day period. The rules were blurred at best – basically it was 'play as dirty or as clean as you like' but the team with the most amount of treasures at the end of the week was the winner.  Half of the challenge was to find where the other teams were camped out and the other half, the half that Sara was most intrigued by, was how to invade the camps and steal their treasures without the enemy team realising what was going on.  It was a physical competition, but it was also intellectual and despite her nervousness, Sara was looking forward to the action. She was also a little surprised that Grissom had actually decided to enter it.  

Once they arrived at what they thought was a good place to set up their base-camp, they propped up their two tents and went hunting for some firewood.  Their treasures; a team flag, a couple of region maps, a cooking pot and a stack of water guns that Greg was incredibly impressed by, had been kept under close guard since they'd received them.  Sara thought the guns were cute, but didn't really see what use they would be but Greg had looked at her incredulously and said 'Are you kidding? These'll win the game for us!'  Sara had been too tired to argue by that stage and simply shrugged at him. 

Each team had a different set of treasures except for the flag.  The treasures were identified as such because of a small team sticker that had been placed on each of the items.  The flags didn't need a sticker – it was fairly obvious that they were worth the most points.

After they settled in they decided that lighting a fire while it was still light enough to see the smoke was a bad idea and so they sat around the unlit fire drinking cold coco-coco.  Then Nick had looked around and told them he felt like someone was watching them.  They immediately felt creeped out by that and had decided that they needed someone on sentry duty to make sure their camp was still a secret.  They created a warning bell too so that if the person on sentry saw someone snooping around close to them, they'd be able to pull on a rope and alert the rest of the group at camp that someone was near. Nick, Warrick and Greg had done that and were really quite proud. 

Once they were organised and felt a little safer sitting around the unlit campfire with Greg up in a tree on look out, they began to brainstorm ideas on how to get the other teams' treasures.  They had no idea where the other groups were based but they had maps and a compass and felt pretty confident that if they went trekking then they'd know – or find out - where they were on the map, and hence have more of an idea where the other teams were likely to be.  The sun had gone down fairly quickly after that and Warrick and Sara lit the fire while Grissom and Nick tried to find some decent food in their packs for dinner.  Catherine went to keep Greg company.  They'd eaten and Sara had volunteered to do sentry while the other's staggered away to bed.

She didn't expect to see anyone while she sat up there in the tree.  It was the first night, after all, and if the other teams were anything like them they wouldn't be all that enthusiastic about making any raids or traipsing around the unfamiliar forest in the dark.  But after checking her watch for the fifth time in half an hour and wondering when a good time would be to go and wake Grissom to tell him it was his turn to keep watch, she did see a dark moving shadow. Her breath caught in her throat and she froze like a rabbit caught in a spotlight; paralysed in an irrational moment of fear. She was just about to reach for the rope to alert the rest of her group down in the camp when she realised that the dark shape wasn't moving towards them – it was moving towards her, and it was coming from the direction of the camp.  She breathed a little easier and then smiled when she heard the figure stumble over the root of a tree, curse, and then whisper a small "Sara?"

"You're going to have to work on your stealthiness Grissom, if we're going to have any chance of winning this thing," she whispered back.

"Very funny," he muttered and worked his way more purposely towards her.  He reached the tree and began to climb it awkwardly, using the hand and foot holds that Warrick, Nick and Greg had made.  When he reached the small slab of wood that the boys had put up as a platform, Sara reached out and helped him the rest of the way.

They sat there for a moment while Grissom got his breath back and Sara became a little nervous about being so alone with him.  It was one thing being alone with him at work, being busy and distracted, but it was a completely different thing to be alone with him, up a tree, in the middle of the night, somewhere in the Canadian wilderness.  Somehow, the fact that there was no ground directly beneath her feet made her a little concerned.  She wondered briefly if she'd do too much damage to her ankles if the tension became so incredibly hard to bear that she found herself simply jumping off the platform to get away from the awkwardness.

"Can't sleep?" she asked him quietly.

He shrugged, "I did for a little bit, but knowing you're going to have to wake up in a little bit doesn't really help."

She nodded, wondering if she was expected to leave now that he was here to take over.  She wasn't sure if he had noticed the tension between them lately – if it were anyone else she'd be positive they'd have noticed it by now.  But Grissom was different – he didn't really notice things like that, or if he did they didn't seem to bother him as much.

She struggled to find something to talk about. Anything was better than silence. "So," she began, "was it just the money that made you decide to do this?"

Grissom gave her a sideways glance whilst tightening his lips together and she immediately realised the answer.

Her nervousness gone, she jumped on him "What? You mean this wasn't about the money to you?"

Grissom raised his eyebrows and opened his mouth, searching for the right words to use.  "Well, the money will be very good for the lab, of course…"

"But…" she searched his face with her eyes, "There's something else."

Grissom sighed, "Yes, there's something else." 

He wondered if he should tell her that Brass had scolded him like a disappointed mother because of his apparent lack of interest in what was going on in his CSI's lives.  The conversation had been quite startling for Grissom who had been quite content to travel along in his own little world, quite oblivious to anyone else's problems.  But Brass had shocked him, told him that there were certain members on his staff who were losing it and if he didn't wake up and acknowledge it then one day he'd find himself interviewing fresh-out-of-college rookies to replace his team. Grissom had sent him a confused stare and Brass had asked him a series of rhetorical questions. "Has Greg stopped shaking like a leaf every time he goes near the lab?  Is Warrick really content with the job he's doing? How's Catherine's relationship with her kid going?" And then the one that had sent a shiver of ice down the back of his neck, "What does Sara do when she goes home at the end of shift, Grissom?"  Grissom had stared at him, unable to give an answer to any of those questions.  "Look," Brass had said, "These people aren't super heroes Grissom – they need a break. And far be it for me to tell you what you need, but I think you should take one too." Brass had gone on to tell him about the competition and Grissom had mentioned it to the Sheriff. The sheriff had not been too impressed, however when Grissom mentioned the prize money he suddenly had a change of heart.

"I just thought we could all use a bit of a break from the horror's of Vegas," Grissom answered Sara quietly.

Sara was a little surprised. But, she reminded herself, Grissom could be full of surprises every now and then. 

After a little while of sitting next to each other on the small platform without either uttering any other words, Sara made to get up.  "Well, I think I'm going to go to bed, good night Grissom."

"Good night Sara," he watched her clamber down the tree trunk and disappear gracefully into the shadows in the direction of their camp.

Monday – Day 2, 09:05

She woke up with a pain in the side of her hip and rolled clumsily off it to try and ease the pressure.

"Hey!" a muffled warning startled her and she realised that she'd just rolled over next to Catherine, squashing her against the side of their tent.

"Sorry," Sara mumbled back and shifted again, "I've been sleeping with this rock in my hip the whole night."

"You were sleeping? Lucky you," Catherine replied dryly and rolled over to face the brunette. "I can't remember ever having a worse night."

Sara grinned at her, "Oh I've had worse, but damn we're going to have to move this tent if I don't want to wake up with a bruise the size of Texas on my hip each morning. Or I suppose if you don't want me lying on top of you all night, you'd probably make an alright mattress."

"Thanks," Catherine replied sarcastically and groaned, "I suppose we're going to have to get up."

"Hmm," Sara agreed non-committaly and rolled onto her stomach.

A loud male voice on the other side of the thin tent made them both jump, "Come on ladies! This isn't a holiday, this is war!"

"Go away Greg," Catherine and Sara groaned simultaneously.

Greg, having already done his sentry duty before dinner the previous night had had the most sleep out of all of them.

"Watch out Greggo," they heard Nick warn him, "From personal experience I can tell you that when these girls are tired, they're grumpy!"

"Oh I know Nick, I know," Greg said in an overly serious tone, "The stories I could tell you…"

The next voice was slightly muffled and came from the direction of the guy's tent, "If you guys don't shut up I'm getting a helicopter out here and sending you both back to Vegas."

There was a moment of silence followed closely by two shameful apologies, "Sorry Grissom."

"Yeah, sorry – forgot you were still sleeping."

Sara grinned at Catherine and mouthed 'dog house' to her.  Catherine grinned back but was interrupted by a large yawn escaping her mouth.

"You want coffee?" Sara offered quietly.

"That would be fantastic," Catherine said hopefully.

"No problem," Sara began to wriggle out of her sleeping bag and made her way out of the tent and into the fresh morning air.  She breathed in deeply and squinted against the glaring morning sun.

"Well well," Nick began and then cast a guilty look towards the tent, which currently housed Grissom.

Sara grinned at him, "Morning," she said quietly, "You got any coffee out here yet?"

"Just boiling some water now," he said as he poked at the small remnants of last nights fire.  The coals were still hot enough to heat the pot full of water that sat atop, but there was no danger of them sending out a smoke signal in the morning light.

"Here," Greg handed her a cup and sat down on the log next to Nick.

"Thanks, got another?" she asked as she sat down next to him.

"Sure," he said and produced another cup from somewhere between himself and Nick.

A little more awake than she was when she first exited her tent, Sara took in her surroundings with a little more interest. They'd found a small clearing to set up their base camp in, though there were a few random trees that kept the area from being completely bare.  She and Warrick had done a good job creating the fire and there was a small area that had been cleared around it, complete with a couple of fallen logs for them to use as seats.  The two tents were pitched next to each other and Sara suddenly realised just how cramped the guys' tent had probably been last night.  She looked at Greg beside her; rugged up in a fur coat over his flannel pyjama's, feet snug in his moccasins, hair hidden by the black beanie he wore. 

Beside Greg, Nick was actually dressed, but only because he'd just finished his own sentry duty.  He wore sturdy black boots and a baseball cap, backwards.

She grinned to herself; they were so endearing.  She wondered if she looked as battered and worn-in as they did and realised that with her jacket over her own flannel pyjama's, worn in rain boots and black beanie she probably did.  If this was them after one night of camping she wondered what they'd look like at the end of the week and smiled at the mental picture that formed in her mind.

Greg handed her the coffee, "Sorry – not up to my usual standard but sometime's you just have to make the sacrifice."

"Thanks Greg," she said as she took the coffee and made up the two cups.  She picked up one and headed back to her tent. "Knock knock," she said as she squatted down and began to crawl through the small door. 

Catherine sat up in her sleeping bag and stretched out for the coffee, "Oh thank you," she cooed and grinned at Sara.

"No problem," Sara grinned back and left the tent to pick up the other cup she'd left by the fire.  She walked over to the guy's tent and quickly looked back at Greg and Nick who were watching her closely.

"Uh, Grissom?" she started quietly, "I've made you some coffee – if you want some."

She heard a grunt and took it for a 'why yes Sara, thank you that would be lovely' and unzipped the fly.

She crawled in as Grissom was sitting up, still obviously very sleepy.  His hair was tousled and his eyes were not completely open yet.  She grinned and held out the coffee towards him, "Don't get too used to this," she warned him.

"I wouldn't dream of it," he slurred slightly and then focussed on her, "Thank you."

"No problem," she said simply and began to crawl back out again.

"Hey," Grissom called her back and she sat again and looked at him. "Have we got a plan for today?"

"I think we decided that we should try and work out where we are on the maps we have and then cover as much land as possible to rule out any area's the other teams might be occupying."

Grissom nodded, "Okay, we should probably start that as soon as possible. I'll just finish this," he lifted his coffee, "And then we'll start to get organised – work out exactly who's going and who's staying. What do you want to do?"

"Uh – go explore, definitely," she grinned.

Grissom nodded, "Thought so. I'll be out in a minute, we should get away soon."