Disclaimer: In no way, form, or fashion do I own CSI or any of the characters associated with it. Except my Nicky plushie.
A/N: Read many, written none. CSI fics, that is. I think I might take my time, proofread, and finish this one, unlike almost every other ongoing fic I've written A beta would be nice, by the way, if you have a knack for catching small errors in punctuation, formal grammar, things like that. Just give me an email if you're interested. Thanks much!
Synopsis: When Ecklie finds an intriguing email left carelessly on the screen of the lab computer, it leads the entire lab to believe more is going on between Grissom and Sara than either of them appears to be letting on. GSR (centers more around personal situations than cases.)
The day had been particularly cold for Las Vegas, Nevada, but for once it felt nice to be out of the scorching heat. The CSI lab was no exception.
Warrick and Catherine were out investigating the B&E of a home in a run-down neighborhood. Sara, Grissom, and Nick had left moments ago to begin their investigation of a car that crashed over a bridge railing.
Ecklie was just preparing to leave. Day shift had ended, but he continued into overtime to inspect evidence and make notes. He walked to the lab quickly, wanting to hurry and get out, when he noticed that neither the day shift lab tech nor the night shift lab tech were present.
Making a mental note of it, he walked across the lab. Day shift's tech had left hours ago when shift ended. That meant Grissom's lab rat was either on an unscheduled break or had simply turned up late. The computer screen Ecklie passed, however, showed he was merely taking a break.
Setting his evidence bags gently on the table, he looked toward the door. Cautiously, he sat slowly in the chair. The corners of Ecklie's mouth slowly turned upward into a smirk as he observed the document. This little document happened to be a chain email sent through the system. Though he didn't recognize the address, it didn't matter. This picture and the words beneath it were simply too intriguing to report whether or not he knew who the sender was.
Ecklie stood as footsteps approached from behind. Grabbing his evidence bags, he turned quickly. In the doorway stood the night shift lab tech with headphones around his neck. In one hand was a CD-player and magazine, a half-empty cup of coffee in the other.
"Dropping off evidence. I need it processed as soon as you can. Have it waiting in the morning, if possible." With another sickening leer, Ecklie said, "By the way, I will be reporting to your supervisor of your unscheduled breaks and what you do when he is not around." With that, Ecklie left, Greg stepping aside as he passed.
Greg looked in horror at the screen across the room. The tampered picture was plastered clearly there, and Ecklie, Grissom's worst enemy, had seen it.
Sara trudged through the hallway, looking down at the folder in her hands. She was sure the car crashing over the railing was an accident, but Grissom hadn't been so sure. She flipped through papers, reading and rereading witness testimonies. Only did she lift her head when she passed the evidence lab, seeing Greg sitting and doing absolutely nothing. She stopped.
At a table with bags of evidence surrounding him, he sat still and silent, the look of guilt obvious on his face. What struck Sara as odd, however, was the fact that that's all there was. Greg and a mountain of day shift evidence. No coffee, no music, no magazine. No email.
"Hey, what's up?" Sara asked, walking in. Greg's head snapped up, his eyes widening as he realized who she was.
"Oh ... Sara ... Hi."
"Uh, okay. Something wrong? You seem a little different tonight."
"Uh, nothing. Where-where's Grissom?"
"With Doc. Why? Something you need to tell him? I can deliver your-"
"No, nothing to tell him." Greg looked suddenly frightened. Sara closed the folder in her hands and sat down across from him.
"Is there something he should know that you're too afraid to tell him?" she asked knowingly. It was really more of a statement than a question. "Tell me what happened. I may even be more help than Grissom."
"Actually ..." Greg started, then paused. "You'll probably blow up on me. He'd stay calm and query me." Sara looked at him curiously.
"What is it that would make me explode on you?" Greg raised an eyebrow. "Really. Tell me." Greg sighed, sounding defeated. He stood and slowly walked to his computer. Sara stood and followed. Sara leaned over his shoulder to look as he sat in the chair at his desk. He pulled up his email.
Clicking on a link, he closed his eyes and waited for the torrent of accusations to begin. To his surprise, she was silent. Greg looked up at her. She was staring with her mouth open at the screen.
"What the hell-?"
"I got this in my email," he said sheepishly. "I don't know who sent it, but it was a work-wide ... it was a network email."
"So then everyone in the lab got one?"
"Probably. Maybe even you and Grissom. I dunno. I don't go through people's e-mails like Ecklie does."
"Ecklie? You mean- you mean he ... knows?! He's seen it?!" Greg nodded solemnly. Grissom would be pissed, but at least he would be calm about being pissed. But it wasn't Greg's fault. It was, well, she didn't know who sent the picture. But the address was traceable, and that was at least a start.
"So, what, do you want to tell Grissom or not?"
"Tell me what?" Sara shot around as Grissom's voice came floating in. He stood in the doorway, looking at them over his glasses. Several folders were under his arm as he inspected another.
"That, uh ..." Sara looked over her shoulder; Greg had already exited from the screen. "That I may have a lead in our investigation." Sara looked down at Greg with raised eyebrows. Greg looked from Sara to the table, not able to face Grissom. Looking at him would probably remind him of how unlikely the picture was.
"Uh, why don't you go to your office and- wait, no, how 'bout I meet you in the break room in a few? I just need to, uh, clear things up with Greg." Grissom eyed her curiously, but turned and walked away anyway. He walked slowly down the hall as though trying to figure out some mental puzzle.
When Sara knew Grissom was safely out of earshot, she turned back to Greg.
"I want you to trace that email, give me the name. Tell no one that you know about it." Greg nodded in understanding and watched as Sara walked out the door and cautiously made her way in the direction of the break room.
Not to say that Sara didn't mind the picture, but she did think it was a little extreme. First, she didn't know how anyone could, or would, think of such a thing. Second, the many different pictures the entire composition consisted of Sara had never seen before. Whoever created the rather disturbing picture was good. Not to say professional, but they were good.
The bad thing, however, was that the entire lab had a copy of the untrue picture. It was actually rather embarrassing.
Sara jumped as Catherine came around the corner.
"Mind telling me what this is about?" she said slyly, holding up a piece of paper. It was the printed copy of the picture and the question beneath it. Sara's jaw dropped and she snatched it from her hands. Catherine smiled.
"I thought you were with Warrick on a B&E?"
"I was. We finished up there. You know about it? The picture, I mean," she asked as Sara stared at it.
"Yeah. And Greg. And Ecklie. And the rest of the lab. Except Grissom." Catherine's smile faded.
"Ecklie?" Sara swallowed hard and nodded.
"I know. My reactions exactly." She folded the paper neatly and stuck it in her pocket.
"You going to tell him?" Sara was hesitant before answering.
"Not going to tell me what?"
Sara spun around to face Grissom.
"You're supposed to be in the break room!" She tried to sound calm, but two close calls in less than ten minutes was too much. Grissom merely held up a styrofoam cup in defense.
"No coffee," he said, shaking it slightly. Sara sighed. Grissom had just been passing by at the wrong time. When he walked off without an answer, Sara looked at Catherine, who was smiling again.
"So, why aren't you going to tell him?"
"He'd be horrified! I'm confused right now, though. The pic's obviously made up of several different pictures cut to pieces, and this is definitely me, and that's definitely Grissom, but I swear I've never seen any of them."
"Only way to find out is to trace the address."
"I know. I've already got Greg on it." Catherine nodded and they both fell silent. "I need to go. I'm supposed to meet Grissom in the break room. I told him I had nonexistent leads in this case. Now I have to make some up."
"Is something wrong?" Sara's head snapped up.
"Wrong? Why would anything be wrong?"
"You just seem tense, that's all. And you haven't told me your leads."
"I'm getting to it," Sara lied. Really, she was shuffling through the papers in her folder looking for something to prove her accident theory. Hell, she'd even take something to disprove her theory, as long as it was some kind of lead. At least that way her lie wouldn't really be a lie. She'd have the lead, she just wouldn't have had it when she said she had.
The problem was, they had been sitting in silence in the break room for over an hour. Sara wasn't successful in trying to find leads of any kind. Having renewed two full pots of coffee, Sara had taken her sweet time getting up to get more coffee and sitting back down. She slowly poured it, slowly added cream, slowly added sugar, slowly stirred it, and slowly sat back down. Stalling for time.
Procrastination is my middle name, she thought bitterly. Shift ended in nearly two hours. There was no way she could stall for time and get out of it for a while. She didn't like the idea of leaving work just to go home to avoid Grissom, but at this point she didn't much care. She just needed to get away from the damning lie of a picture.
Setting down the folder, she stood. "Be right back," she announced before walking quickly from the room. Once she was around the corner down the hall, she began to walk as slowly as possible. The bathroom was just up ahead. She could wait in there.
Sara slowly washed her hands four times, taking extra time to dry thoroughly between her fingers. When she realized she must have taken an extremely long time, she started back for the break room- as slowly as possible. When she got back to the break room, Grissom, his folders, and his coffee cup were gone.
Sara quickly made a break for the lab- the fastest thing she did all night.
"You find it yet?"
"Actually, I found them."
"Yep. You heard me. It's a joint account of fifteen people. Never heard of them before. There were only three to have used this e-mail account within the last year, though."
"I know them," Sara stated. "Those are some of Hank's guys. EMT's. Or something like that."
"Well, they apparently aren't out to 'rescue' anyone. Looks like someone's out to get someone fired."
"Don't be so dramatic. I'm sure it's just a prank."
Greg sighed. Sara pulled the folded paper from her pocket.
"You know," she started, "It doesn't matter who sent it. I want to know, I'm curious. But ..."
"Whoever did this may have liked artwork. Looks like a collage to me. Lots of background images, even though it's supposed to depict a sort of bar, I think."
"Look, I'm holding a damn martini glass. I have better taste than that!" Sara laughed. "I'll go down there and question them later." Sara wrote down the names of the EMT's on the back of the folded paper. Looking over the list, she turned it over to the picture.
Sara and Grissom stood together in a rather provocative manner. Apparently they were supposed to be 'dancing' but whatever dance this was, Sara had surely never done it. Grissom and Sara were kissing, Sara with a martini glass in her left hand. Grissom held her left leg to his waist as they were tilted back in Sara's direction. Sara took note of how exposed her leg was: The black 'dress' she 'wore' had seemed to have 'slipped up to her thigh in the act of Grissom 'holding' her leg 'there.'
Sara hastily folded the paper again and turned, giving Greg a hurried thanks. She needed to get home. She needed a drink.
Walking quickly down the hall, she slowed as she neared Grissom's office. His open door gave her the opportunity to see through the crack by the hinges. Grissom sat with his head bent over his many folders. Sara watched for only a few more minutes before walking quickly passed his door and in the direction of the exit.