A/N: Beta-ed by LibraryLady61. I couldn't have done it without you.
Summary: He couldn't remember how he got here. It was stiflingly hot and his head hurt. When his blurry vision unravelled, he realized that he was staring at the barrel of a gun. W-C and G-S hints
Spoilers: Come on, you know them probably better than I do.
"Grissom! Why did you go on processing the evidence without me? I thought we had an agreement that I get the lead on that case." Sara stormed in and slammed the door shut.
"Hello, to you too, Miss Sidle." Gil Grissom answered frowning at his agitated co-worker, watching her struggling to get in her blue lab coat.
"Actually I didn't process, I was just looking." Said it friendly and helped her putting on the coat. Sara flinched slightly when his warm fingers accidentally stroked her neck while folding down the collar.
Impatiently she stepped away and glanced at him, her brown eyes still dark in anger. "Gris, if you don't let me get experiences on this case, I simply cannot improve my knowledge. Why do I just have the impression that you already know what I still have to find out?"
Grissom made his innocent non-expressive face and gave way to the pin board where Sara had pinned down different stages of pupae to visualize the timeline at the death scene, beginning with featureless rounded larval stage to emerged adult insects.
"Sara, you did a good job here! I just made up my conclusion based on your work, and so will you. Take a gander at the maggot we collected from the crime scene. I placed under the microscope for you, well… you'll see."
Taking a close look at the piece of evidence and comparing it to the board, her face lightened up. "Yes!" Exited she flipped through her notes. "When we put scene observation and weather data into context…" She murmured. "The alibi is busted. The guy lied!" Sara exclaimed victoriously. "Timeline nails suspect and vic together at the crime scene. I did it. Case breaker!" she cheered.
Her cheeks were blushed in fever of excitement. Grissom winked and smiled at her, glad to see her mood change.
"Gris, um, sorry for blowing up at you. It was… well you are the artist when it comes to interpretation of timelines in bug life, and I…" She made the unforgivable mistake to meet the gaze of his blue eyes and lost her thought. For a beat he was lost too in her glance, then put down his glasses, watched them intensely, pulled out a tissue and started wiping away non-present smudges to avert her gaze.
"This is not about art, Sara. Investigation of evidence is simply about deduction." He answered relieved to find a way back into his mentor mode. "Also remember, there is no 'I' ever in breaking a case, it's always a team effort. Hence the difference, Sara, we are scientists first. Art is I, science is we."
"Claude Bernard." Grissom explained.
"Yeah, whatever!" Sara shrugged. "I'll find Brass to get the perp arrested." And was gone.
Grissom stood, turned around to feed his pet spider and every how so often asked himself what he had done or said wrong this time.
Warrick woke up. The bright light stung his eyes. A weird taste of copper was on his dry tongue. He was so darn thirsty. It was stiflingly hot and his head hurt badly. He rubbed his eyes and massaged his temples. He couldn't remember how he got here. That wasn't his car and he certainly did not recall the woman sitting on the passenger seat besides him. She seemed still asleep, her head rested against the car window. When his blurry vision unravelled, he realized that he was staring at the barrel of a gun.
"Gil. Got a minute?" Catherine caught up with him while he was crossing the hall way.
"Sure, go ahead. I was about to grab a cup of coffee, want one too?" He poured himself a mug full of Greg's favourite flavour.
"Nope, thanks. Probably need something more high octane."
"Cath, you know that we have a general rule against consumption of alcoholic beverages in the lab." Catherine gave him a glare.
"Gil, don't patronize me. Rule against…my ass."
"Would you please let me finish?" Grissom continued with a hint of a smile. "Let's return to my office. I keep a bottle of Bourbon for special occasions and you certainly look like you could use a shot."
To her surprise he linked his arm with hers and drew her back to his office.
"So, tell me. What's bothering you, the case?" He asked while offering her a glass of amber liquid. Catherine sipped at it, grimaced then knocked back the drink all at once.
"I'm missing Warrick." She said simply.
"Uh, Cath, sorry. I'm not sure that I understand. Look, if, um, if this is, um, concerns some private issue you might want to talk to anybody else but me." He answered beseechingly. "You know, I'm not good at that stuff. Anyway I don't think it would be a good idea if you and Warrick, I mean you being his supervisor…"
"Gris, please!" Catherine cut him off with a sudden gesture. "I would rather prefer consulting Brass about affairs of the heart before I would consider you as appropriate counterpart to discuss this issue." She scoffed. He cocked his head, but restrained himself from answering, admitting that she was darn right.
"Something wrong again with your hearing, Gil? Just read my lips. Warrick has gone missing. He took last weekend off for a trip to the Grand Canyon. Had some Colin Fletcher thing going, I guess. You know, hiking in the desert, walking though time, that stuff. Jim planted that in his mind. He hasn't clocked in yet, so I called him on his mobile and at home. Zip. Hence I had Nick drive by. He reported that his car wasn't in the parking lot either. My guts are telling me that something isn't right here."
Even stating the fact that Grissom wasn't a people person he realized that Catherine was just pretending the coolness. He discovered that she was more affected by her own statement than she wanted it to look like. She looked rather shaken up. Cath turned around and enlarged the distance between them, knowing too well how uncomfortable Grissom already felt, when personal issues are involved. And she was not sure to maintain her emotional level.
Grissom looked at Catherine in surprise. He shook his head in sudden awareness. She fell in love with Warrick? Oh, my. How can you let that happen? Cath, it will never work out. Believe me. Think of the consequences. I couldn't do it. I would never do it. Of course he didn't say that aloud.
Instead he asked in a calm voice. "What do you want me to do? File a missing person report? You can easily do that yourself, Cath."
"I already did, Gil. I have a friend in PD who owes me. So I asked him to skip the usual 24 hour rule and put Warrick's licence no. out on a search. Arizona Highway Patrol found his car abandoned. What I would like to ask you is rather more delicate. Please, Gil, could you also start searching for him? I would do it myself, but Nick and I are stuck in a case with twisted evidence and tomorrow we have a court day, so we just can't do it and I simply don't know whom else to ask. Ecklie?" She was looking desperate now, her eyes pleading for support.
"Cath, please. I'm not a cop or a missing person specialist. But you are right. We are a team, well, we used to be… anyway, one of us should get involved. Sara just wrapped her case, so look, Greg and I are going to take over her backlog and you can have her, ok? And we can ask Vartan or Brass, if they could spare one of their crew. Don't worry." He gave her a short hug, "Everything will just be fine. Perhaps he…." Grissom decided to keep the rest of his thoughts for himself, involving the option that Warrick could have found some female kind of diversion and simply overslept in a stranger's bed with his mobile off.
Gil paged Brass, who had just arrested Sara's suspect. Jim was on this way back downtown when he received the message. Although Brass and Warrick never became friends, Jim felt responsible and appreciated the development Brown had made in the last years under Gil's supervision. He perfectly knew the area where Warrick was supposed to go for hiking. Being a passionate hiker himself Jim actually highly recommended this trip through its stunning and majestic landscape, with its changing colours in different daylight. Only roving though its depths would reveal its complete visual wonders to the fellow visitor. Unconsciously Jim smiled in remembrance of his last vacation in the Grand Canyon.
Jim had a hunch that there was something out of the ordinary about Warrick having gone missing. Quickly he made his decision. He would go by himself. So he called Rory Atwater to get necessary clearance and assigned the interrogation and proceeding of the case to Vartan. He was glad, although not surprised to receive this special courtesy from his superior and his colleague. This is just what happened when a member of law enforcement seemed in distress. They took care for each other like a big family.
He turned his Taurus and headed to his townhouse to pick up some equipment, which could be useful underway. He quickly changed into shirts and a pair of jeans, grabbed his backpack, pulled some clothing out of the closet and threw it in together with his toiletries. He put on his hiking boots, got ropes and climbing gear from the garage in case he would need it and drove to the lab to meet with Grissom.
Jim found Gil in his office discussing with Sara and Catherine. They looked serious, but in Cath eyes he found more, rather anxiety.
"So what do we know?" he asked without wasting time.
Grissom and Catherine looked at him in surprise when they noticed his rather casual outfit but didn't comment on it.
Grissom showed them all on the map were the car had been found. No sign of Warrick, his gear and duffle in the trunk, his wallet and phone discovered in the glove compartment. Nothing stolen.
"Strange, isn't it?" Grissom asked. "Highway police combed the surrounding area but no trace of him."
"I have already checked his credit card account. He arrived three days ago at the visitor centre, then we have another receipt of the phantom ranch. I called the ranch, faxed a photo and they confirmed Warrick's ID." Sara consulted her notebook. "Yesterday he fuelled up in Cameron…"
"Or somebody did, using his credit card, honey." Jim remarked with a smirk. "Trying to do my job, huh? Wanna go for a change in profession? Spare me the details. What are we waiting for, Gal, let's roll."
"Uh, Brass. You going?" Sara asked quizzically turning to Grissom. "I thought I would get someone from MP squad?"
"Hey, Sara. Don't offend me. I'm more than qualified to go on missing person case." Jim said.
"No that's not… I mean, I didn't… But you and Warrick. It's not that you have been close pals."
"Oh, yeah. And you are particularly close to Warrick because…?" Jim retorted.
Grissom interrupted. "Let's not loose time! Sara, go quickly. Gear up, get your stuff. Jim's ready to leave with or without you in five minutes."
"Well," she said. "I make in three. Meet you outside, Brass. Your Taurus is useless. We take the Tahoe, I drive." Giving Catherine a thumb up sign she left.
"Year, picture that, gal!" Jim shouted after her, than looked back to Gil and Catherine.
"Anything else I should know?" he asked raising an eyebrow.
"Just bring him back safely, Jim." Catherine remarked.
"Both of them." Gil added seriously.
Catherine handed him a key. "Warrick's." She said simply. Brass raised an eyebrow and looked at her. She just nodded with a half smile and he understood, what she meant by that.
"Hey, Cath. Don't worry. We'll find him and bring him back in one piece, and alive." Jim gave her an encouraging smile. "I'm police officer for a reason. And I cannot afford to loose any of you guys."