Title: Santaria

Author: Kristen999

Category: Angst/Drama

Spoilers: None. Set during Season 2

Disclaimer: All rights belong to CBS and all their fine writers. Please don't sue. This is just for fun.

Summary: A single day of change can be the most challenging case of Nick and Grissom's life's.

Notes: This is a character study focussed on Season 2. There has been much research involved in this story as it unfolds. It can be interpreted differently, but try to keep in mind the imagination of the author and the exhausted research involved. I want to say this has been the most challenging piece of CSI fiction I have ever written. The updates will be weekly till I deem that it can be done more frequently. Please be patient. Many thanks to Kris and Shacky for all the help and input. this is very angsty exploration.

I want to say a big thank you again to my wonderful beta Krysalys for help and guidance yet again!


Gil Grissom stood in the darkened room, his legs aching slightly from being in one position for so long. His eyes had adjusted to the lack of light long ago; the flickering of candles cast shadows over the walls. The air smelled of incense, spice, and sweat. These odors could not; however, cover up the lingering stench of blood that had stained the wooden floor in areas.

Sweat trickled down his forehead, itching his eyes. He wanted to remove his reading glasses, but felt that he should keep his movements to a minimum and not startle some of the edgy people watching him. It was stifling in here, the heat baking in from the tin roof overhead. He felt like he was in a pressure cooker, but the occupants of the room didn't seem to notice or even care. There were four men in the room, all of them armed. Two of them guarded the door with shotguns perched on their shoulders. Grissom was not in panic mode... not yet.

His attention was focused on the man in front of him. Jorge Carlos was in his late forties, his tanned, wrinkled skin looked like leather. Lines marred a face aged beyond his years. The Latino's long black hair was pulled back into a pony tail. The gray that streaked through was matched by the curled mustache intentionally twisted into points. Jorge had deep blue eyes: those orbs had stared at the criminalist unblinkingly for the past five minutes.

Jorge was studying the CSI exactly like how the entomologist examined one of his specimens at the lab.

Jorge pulled out a pouch from the drawer of the desk he was seated behind. He extracted several marbled pieces, each ornament adorned with symbols. The older man snatched a beat up tin bowl and dumped the strange objects inside, the clanking noise echoing in the room. Jorge then poured some wine from a bottle into it and swirled around the stones. He shook the bowl several times, dumping the contents back onto the desk.

Jorge Carlos was a priest of Santeria, a practitioner of white magic, or that is how he first introduced himself earlier to the CSI during the case. Grissom was actually quite fascinated by the ritual, and watched as the priest pondered his results.

The priest peered at the stones, his eyes focusing on first them and then back towards the scientist. "Who else knows about our operation, señor?"

Grissom looked at the priest thoughtfully. "What do your stones tell you?"

Jorge stroked his chin. "I know what they say to me. I want to hear your words."

"No one else has put the pieces together," he stated simply. The graveyard supervisor really wished this was a thinly veiled lie, but it wasn't.

The priest glanced down at the smooth rocks; his eyes darted up. "You're wrong."

Grissom looked at him wide-eyed. "I assure you that I am not."

The priest smiled. "Tráigalo aquí"

Grissom wasn't sure what the priest had said but his men went into action. The two guards flung open the door and sunlight streamed in, causing the supervisor to shade his eyes from the bright glare. Momentarily blinded, he heard feet rustling on the wooden floor as someone was forced into the room.

The door slammed shut and Grissom's vision adjusted once again. Nick Stokes, flanked by two more goons, was shoved further inside. The supervisor gaped in shock. "Nick, what the hell are you doing here? You're supposed to be at the lab," he growled.

Nick shrugged off his keepers, disentangling them from his arms. They let go of him and backed away, knowing the criminalist wasn't going to do anything with six of them there. Nick glanced at his boss, his expression a bit sheepish "I went over to the Botánica..."

"I told you not to go there!" Grissom reprimanded the younger man, cutting off his reason mid-sentence.

Nick sighed, looking all the world like a kid who had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Yeah, well I caught our friends here unloading several pounds of heroin from the back entrance into a truck. I was goin' to radio it in when I was caught." He explained as he rubbed the back of his head ruefully.

Jorge studied the newcomer and glanced back to the older CSI. "You have a strong 'mal ojo' with this one," the priest said as he pointed towards the younger man.

Grissom looked back at his captor. "I was telling you the truth earlier."

Jorge smiled. "I know." He paused as he studied both men and shook his head slowly, suddenly standing and pacing the cramped quarters of the space. He snapped his fingers. "Tráigame un pollo."

One of the guards slipped out the door. Both criminalists stood looking around the room as Jorge went over to one of the shelves on the far wall. He pulled out a knife from a sheath and caressed the weapon with his palm before bringing it over to the table. He pulled out a lighter and lit more incense in a few of the burners around his desk.

Nick bristled when the knife was pulled out, but he seemed only slightly relieved when it was deposited on the desk. He glanced over at Grissom, wondering if his boss had a clue what was going on. The supervisor's expression was inquisitive, which meant that he had no idea what was transpiring. However, he could tell his boss was quite intrigued by the situation. Nick sighed inwardly. Only Gil Grissom would find the voodoo ways of Santeria fascinating while they were both being held as prisoners.

The priest ignored the criminalists while he gathered back his stones. He poured more wine into the bowl and set the bottle back down. He glanced over at Nick, noting the man's unfavorable expression. Jorge leaned against his desk. "You don't respect my ways, do you gringo?"

Nick crossed his arms, ignoring his boss's warning glance. "You claim to be a practitioner of religion. However all you do is hide under the guise of a church. This is nothin' but a cult, entwined with drugs that you feed and destroy your people with."

Jorge held his hand in the air, keeping his agitated men from advancing on the two gringos. "Don't dismiss things you don't understand, young man," he chastised.

Nick stared at the priest as he barely contained his hostility. "Tell that to the two girls you murdered," he hissed.

"Nick," Grissom's tone warned the CSI to back down.

One of the priest's underlings returned with a small bamboo cage. Jorge held the cage up high, peering at the animal that was flapping its wings and squawking its unhappiness. The priest pulled out the chicken by its legs. Dirty white feathers floated in the air and fell to the floor. He began to mumble under his breath; it was hard to tell if he was praying or trying to enchant the frantic animal.

He spoke in rapid fire Spanish, his voice getting louder as he grabbed the knife in a dramatic fashion. He slit the throat of the bird as he held it over the simple bowl. Blood spray peppered the priest's shirt before settling to a steady drizzle down into the bowl. Jorge dropped the dead bird onto the table and whirled the contents around.

Grissom didn't say anything as he kept his expression neutral. He radiated a sense of calmness, but Nick didn't hide his contempt at the senseless slaughter. He looked down at the floor in disgust then shot the priest a fiery glare.

Jorge Carlos ignored the eyes that bored though him. He simply chanted while swirling the bowl around. He swiped the bottle of wine and drank a large amount, spitting it back into the mixture of blood and stones. He gazed into the vessel, and bowed slightly at it before sitting it back down. He brought out a pair of candles. He lit the first one, its white wax melting slightly from the heat. He used the burning tip to light the black one, and rested them both on the desk. He began to hum and gazed over at the CSI's.

The priest snapped his fingers. ".Todavía sosténgalos."

The set of goons who had been guarding the door each took a position around Grissom. Both of his shoulders were grabbed in a vice-like grip as he was pushed forward. The two men who had brought Nick in did the same. One of them poked the barrel of a gun in his side to make sure the message was clear.

"Hey, man," Nick complained as he came within mere inches of the priest, who now stood in front of the table.

Grissom looked over at his colleague and tried to convey calming thoughts. The supervisor was unsure what was going on, but neither of them were in any position to fight with these people. It was his duty to set an example for his younger criminalist.

Jorge picked up the knife and watched both CSI's expressions with interest. Nick's face was filled with anger, but he was also unable to control the fear that darkened his features. The younger man glanced at his boss for guidance. Grissom exchanged no words, but his cool exterior seemed to calm him a little.

Grissom remained at attention, and Nick licked nervous lips. The priest held the knife up. "Hold out your hands," he commanded.

Each criminalist slowly did what was instructed. Jorge plucked one of the loose feathers from the floor. He held the sharp knife over Grissom's hand. "Palm up, señor."

The supervisor flipped over his hand and the priest dragged the blade across the middle of the criminalist's palm. Jorge slid the feather across the bleeding wound, allowing the plume to soak up the blood. He then took the feather and dropped it into his mixture.

Grissom pressed his left thumb on the cut, staunching the blood somewhat. The cut burned, but it wasn't too deep. He studied the feather in the metal bowl. He glanced over at Nick, who stared back at him. Grissom arched his eyebrow in curiosity.

The priest looked over at the younger CSI. "You as well, gringo."

Nick obeyed, allowing the older man to cut him. The knife dug into his palm deeply, bringing forth a dark crimson well of blood to dip another feather in. He bit his lip to keep from grunting his pain; he could have sworn the guy had not cut his boss this deep. He clenched his hand in an effort to quell the soreness.

Jorge dumped the feather into the bowl with the other one, before he then gazed at both men. "We'll see what the oracle has to say about your 'susto', then we will decide what to do with you. "Elimínelos."

Grissom and Nick were escorted outside into the harsh heat. They were miles outside the city limit in the sprawling desert. They were marched into a smallish building with a few tiny windows. Each criminalist was shoved inside and the door slammed shut behind them. The sun moved further overhead; the early morning was just starting as the hot rays cast along the metal roof of the small warehouse. A slight breeze carried a lone tumbleweed along, the only relief from the heat.

TBC...


Note:

I know the Spanish might be off, but I used a translation program. it won't factor in the trest of the storyu.