"What'cha got there?" Greg asked, wandering into the break room where Nick was sitting at the table, swishing from one hand to the other plastic coils colored in highlighter green and bright yellow.
"Present from my niece. She thought it would liven things up around here."
"How old is your niece?"
"Six," Nick said, and Greg gave a knowing nod.
"Of course, that explains it."
"Why she got you the inferior version. She just didn't know any better."
Nick's brow creased as he glared at Greg for insulting his niece's gift. "What exactly are you trying to say there, Greggo?"
"Well, I mean, the plastic ones are all right, I guess," Greg shrugged as he poured himself a cup of coffee, "and the colors are a nice touch, but they're just not the same quality of an original Slinky."
"Greg. . ." Nick began, a teasing note in his voice, "are you trying to tell me that you're a Slinky expert?"
"I've been around a Slinky or two in my time," Greg shrugged, "and I can guarantee that nothing beats the original."
"Oh yeah?" he asked, arching an eyebrow. "Care to put a little wager on that?"
Greg smiled, looking far too smug for Nick's comfort. "I thought you'd never ask. Winner buys breakfast?"
"It's a deal."
"For the next three days."
Nick's jaw dropped. "Over a Slinky?"
"You got anything better to do?"
"No," he grumbled, wishing it were the opposite, but with temperatures like those outside, even criminals were too busy trying to stay cool to do anything else.
"Meet me at the top of the second floor fire stairwell in five minutes."
"Five? You're going to find a Slinky in five minutes?"
"I've got one in my locker," Greg said with a smirk as he left the break room.
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Nick muttered, pushing his chair away from the table. Sad to say, this was the most interesting thing to happen in the past week, but it was still better than sitting around twiddling his thumbs and waiting.
Walking out the door, he nearly ran into Warrick. "Sorry, man," he said, struggling to gather up the plastic coils.
"No problem. What're you doing?"
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," Nick said, then told him.
"A Slinky race with Greg? You're right, on any other day, I wouldn't believe you." Warrick looked around the hall, and then back at Nick. "Want an impartial judge? Isn't like I've got anything better to do."
"Sure," Nick shrugged.
"Count me in," Sara said, appearing out of the lab. "I don't care what you've got planned, but I'm going out of my mind here."
"All right," Nick nodded, and led the way to the stairwell.
By the time both he and Greg had arrived, a sizable crowd had gathered around the landing and were hanging over the railing above--members of the lab, a couple of cops, even one of the receptionists. Warrick stood at the bottom of the stairs and off to the side so as not to get in the way of the competitors, while Greg and Nick crouched at the top. Their Slinkys rested on the edge of the top step, shouts sounding out from the audience supporting either 'plastic' or 'metal'.
"You guys ready?" Warrick called up the stairs, and both men nodded. "All right then. On your mark, get set, go!"
Each man tipped the top of his Slinky over and the coils began their race down the stairs. The stairwell erupted with cheering from audience and Slinky owners alike.
"Go go go!" Greg cried as his metal Slinky slunk down the stairs.
"No, god damnit! Don't do that! Son of a bitch!" Nick yelled as his plastic Slinky came to a halt about three stairs down.
"Go start it up again," Greg said magnanimously. "It won't matter."
Shooting him a dirty look, Nick ran down the steps and gave his Slinky a little push, though Greg's was now far in advance. The youngest CSI was standing at the top of the steps doing a little dance when his Slinky missed the edge of a step. Greg froze in mid jig as the metal coils took a sudden tumble and rolled down the rest of the stairs.
"No no no!" he cried as Nick let out a triumphant whoop.
"Now whose Slinky is inferior?" Nick crowed, but then his face fell as his Slinky came to another halt. "Aw, hell!"
"Greg, Nick, I hate to do this to you, but you're both losers," Warrick said with extreme pleasure.
"Bite me," Nick said as Greg flipped Rick the bird.
"Whaddya say?" Greg asked as he collected his Slinky. "Best two out of three?"
"You're on," Nick said and the crowd burst into an approving cheer. Both men ran up to the top of the stairs to start the race all over again when the first floor door swung open with a deafening BANG.
"What the hell is going on here?" Grissom demanded.
The stairwell quickly emptied of its audience, Warrick having the sense to sneak out the fire exit in the back, leaving only Greg and Nick to face their supervisor's wrath.
"Oh, hey, Grissom. We were just. . ." Nick faltered, looking at Greg for back-up.
"We were just conducting a scientific experiment," Greg said, and Nick nodded.
"Yeah, an experiment."
"On what?" Grissom asked, the dangerous edge to his voice making them pause a second too long. "Get down here. Now."
Both men hustled down the stairs, coming to a nervous halt in front of the older man.
"Hand over the toys."
Shame-faced, Greg and Nick placed their Slinkys into his outstretched hands.
"My advice to you, if you have any sense left in those heads of yours--which I severely doubt, you will do your damnedest to stay out of my sight for the rest of the day."
"Yes, sir," they muttered, and ran past him out the door.
Looking down at the Slinkys, Grissom sighed. There were some days when he felt like he was living in a pre-school. He knew things were slow and that the heat was making people sluggish, but to resort to. . . What was that swishing noise?
Grissom stared down at his hands, surprised to find he was juggling the coils back and forth. "Huh."
His eyes moved from the Slinkys slowly up to the landing above. "I wonder. . ."
Climbing up the stairs, he put each of the Slinkys on the top step. "I'm not any better than they are," he muttered, then reached out to tip the coils forward. The Slinkys began their march down the stairs, and Gil watched their journey with a smile on his face the entire time.