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. 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; again, the first and last lines were givens.

Spoilers: everything, to be safe.


Bunching up her wedding dress, Sara climbed out the window. "Evidence bag!" she demanded, balancing expertly on the boat's tilted side.

"Sara, that thing's going to go under any second!"

"Bag, Nick!" she insisted. "We're going to lose half this evidence anyway, get your ass in gear!"

Shaking his head, Nick tossed her a large paper bag, and Sara rolled up her prize with hasty care before putting it in the bag and tossing it back for him to label. "I'm going back in."

"Sara, no!"

She ignored his protest and ducked back inside the sinking launch. The lake here wasn't very deep--no more than twelve feet--and the boat was not sinking quickly. But the patrol boat wasn't going to reach them in time to keep it from going under, and all their evidence was about to become waterlogged.

Her feet splashed into chilly water, and she swept the cabin with her flashlight and a sharp gaze, hunting for anything that wasn't already wet. They'd taken photos, she and Nick, before realizing that the crime scene was beginning to settle into the water; after that, it had been a hasty scramble to gather what they could, made all the worse because they didn't know yet what was significant and what was just incidental.

The water was darkening where it was soaking the blood from the carpet. "Anything on a body yet?" she called, bagging an ashtray and its contents.

"Nothing." Nick sounded irritated, but she could hear the worry beneath. "Would you get out of there before I have to come get you?"

She snorted, and decided that prudence was the better part of criminalistics at the moment. "Coming." Stuffing her light into her jacket pocket, she climbed back out the window and jumped across to the motorboat. Nick staggered as it rocked, and she snickered.

"Cool it, Sidle," he warned, giving her half a grin. "Just 'cause you grew up on the ocean..."

"Can't help it if I'm good, Nicky," she returned smugly, and plucked the pen from his fingers to label the bagged ashtray.

The launch gave off a massive belching sound, and both CSIs turned in time to see it disappear ponderously below the lake's surface. Nick shuddered. "That was too close."

Sara put the bag down, and hoped he wouldn't mention her tenacity to Grissom. While their boss was likely to do exactly the same thing, he would take a dimmer view of her doing it. "What do you think so far?"

Nick narrowed his eyes, reconstructing the scene in his head. "We have--had--obvious signs of struggle, blood on the carpet, a bloody knife, discarded clothing including a tuxedo jacket and a wedding dress. But no body."

"We might not have one at all," Sara reminded him. "There's no proof that anyone's dead."

"Yeah, but that much blood, Sar?" Nick looked skeptical.

Lights and voices interrupted them as the patrol boat arrived. "Just raise it and take it to the CSI garage," Sara directed with a resigned sigh. "We need to get this stuff back to the lab." And it was going to take a couple of hours to get the launch out anyway.

Nick packed away their evidence as Sara started the motorboat and steered it expertly back towards the faraway lights of the dock.

"This isn't what you planned to do with your life, is it?" Nick asked suddenly, raising his voice a little to be heard over the motor.

Sara raised her brows at the non sequitur. "Not exactly, no."

"What did you want to do?"

"Physics, Nick, you know that."

He shifted on the hard seat. "That's not what I meant. What did you want to be when you were little?"

"Oh." Sara thought for a moment. "A queen." She smiled unwillingly as Nick began to laugh. "No, seriously! I figured I could fix things if I were in charge."

"You didn't want to be president?"

Sara shrugged. "Queens have more power. Or I thought they did."

They lapsed into silence as they reached the dock. Sara moored the boat and they gathered up their bags, heading back towards their SUV and the drive back to the lab. "What brought that on?" she asked at last.

"I dunno." Nick said nothing for a few yards. "I was just know, about the promotion and all...and how we ended up here, now. Almost getting drowned." He made a disgusted noise. "All that fuss about the position, and we haven't heard a darn thing."

Sara snorted in agreement. "It's almost like it never happened." Time had taken the edge off the topic, but she still didn't feel like discussing it. "So what about you, Stokes?" She shifted her bundles to one arm and fished in her pocket for the SUV keys. "What did you want to be when you were little?"

He said nothing, but when she had opened the tailgate she glanced over and saw the red creeping up his face, visible even in the harsh sodium light. A smirk settled on her face, and she put down her bags. "Well?"

Nick stowed his evidence carefully. "Well what?"

Sara twirled the keyring on her finger, careful to stay out of grabbing range. "You shouldn't have brought it up if you didn't want to answer, Nick."

He sighed. "All right, all right. Johnny Appleseed."

Sara blinked. "Really?" A grin spread over her face, and Nick's blush deepened. "How come?"

"Two reasons. Can we get going here?" Nick slammed the tailgate shut and headed for the passenger side.

"Sure." Sara hit the unlock button on the remote and climbed into the driver's seat. "Reasons?" she asked, putting the keys in the ignition but not starting the vehicle.

"He got to travel all over the country, seeing different people and places," Nick said, shutting his door. "His whole life was an adventure."

"That's a good reason," Sara admitted, putting on her seatbelt and turning the key. "What's the other one?"

Nick shrugged, sheepish. "I love trees."