I'm baaaack! Here's just a warning, I pretty much have the fic done, and this chapter is okay long, but I probably won't update for awhile because my internet access is very limited. So sorry.
Other than that, enjoy my latest CSI Greg angst piece, with a lot of Nick as well, once more.
Title: What it's Worth
Category: Angst/Drama/H/C/Action/Adventure – everything I love
Summary: Nick and Greg find themselves in a desperate situation when two criminals leave somethingbehind at acrime scene. Something they want back at all costs.
Disclaimer: Own nothing, Nick and Greg aren't mine, or the rest of the cast or show.
Author's notes: Please enjoy my little piece of Greg angst, it should be a fun time for all of us. And I got an unusually high amount of swearing for me (by my bad guys of course), so I hope it's not offensive and just illustrates how evil my bad guys are. They're pretty damn evil.
"Hey Nick, so, how goes the puzzle of the mysterious dude?" Greg asked happily as he entered the layout room and perched himself next to Nick at the evidence table.
Nick sighed. Though he was happy to see Greg this case had exhausted him, every trail seemed to lead to more unknowns and he was down to staring at the crime scene pictures in hopes that inspiration about the killer would strike soon. It seemed to be taking its time.
"Not good," he finally replied, sounding exhausted. "Everything leads to the same unknown and there doesn't seem to be any way of finding out who he is. I think the trail's gone cold."
Nick looked defeated; he didn't like giving up on cases but sometimes there just wasn't enough evidence.
Greg smiled and sat up taller in his chair as he threw a folder on the table, "Ah, but what you call cold, I call just heating up."
Nick gave Greg a sideways smile as he opened the folder, finding in it only a few tests from the victim's apartment. She had been a university student living off campus, in a building with no surveillance. A friend found her when she came by to see why she had missed class. All they knew was the girl was strangled with a telephone cord after having consensual sex, and though they had some great fingerprints and DNA from the vaginal sample and the epithelials on the cord, they had yet to find the man they all belonged to. The boyfriend and all the men in the building had turned out negative as a match on either and they had no more leads, or even motive. But just as Nick had been about to decide all hope was lost, Greg walked in and showed him … evidence he had already seen.
"Greg, I appreciate you trying to help but I've already seen all these, I collected them myself," Nick said, not seeing the significance of a few chemistry and biology tests. "Besides, this isn't even your case. I know you don't like it, but we're on different teams, we can't work together just cause you want to."
"Don't remind me, okay," Greg asked, face falling a bit before he forced himself to brighten up again, "We closed our case, brother copped to it, so with nothing to do I could either take a look at what you were working on or go help Mia in DNA, which is something I promised myself I would never do again. So, lucky for you, I'm here to help."
"And I do appreciate it, but I don't understand what you're trying to show me here," Nick admitted, handing the tests back to him.
"Ah, well that I can help with. These are the victim's last few midterms, worth a good chunk of her mark, and as we know, marks are important to this girl. She doesn't come from a rich family so if she loses her scholarship she's done," Greg began, taking out each test and laying them all out in a row on the table.
"Yeah, but she did great on these tests – 92, 87, 90 – she was in no danger of losing that money," Nick interrupted, not knowing where he was going with this.
"One would think that at a glance, but I took a closer look," he picked up the first midterm marked CHEM 3200. "Now, I like to think I know a thing or two about chemistry …"
"So do I since you were our DNA tech for five years," Nick commented, waiting on the big reveal.
Greg took a little bow, "My point exactly. So, I hope you will take my word for it when I tell you that half of the questions marked correct on this test are actually as wrong as Brass wearing a speedo."
Nick cringed, "Well thanks for that mental image, no way am I going to sleep tonight."
Greg kept smiling, despite Nick's discomfort, "You see where I'm going with this don't you? She cheated."
"No Greg, all you've proven is her professor is a lousy marker," Nick pointed out.
"First of all, these are four different tests, from two different classes, all with horribly wrong answers, marked correct. You don't think that's strange?" Greg asked trying to make his point.
Nick had to admit it was getting more plausible, "Her answers weren't even close?"
"About as close as I am to becoming a CSI 3," Greg replied as he opened a second folder.
"That bad huh?" Nick joked.
Greg pointed a threatening finger at him, "You want my help or not?"
Nick smiled apologetically and waved at the table, "Please, continue."
"All right, a little respect, that's all I ask. Okay, her first test, this is what she wrote, and this," he placed a second sheet of calculations beside the evidence, "is the right answer, as worked out by yours truly."
Leaning closer, Nick knew Greg had a point. Nick's chemistry was a little rusty, but it was pretty clear the answers weren't even close.
"Are they all like this?" he asked.
Greg nodded, taking out several more sheets of paper for comparison, "Uh huh. These are my versions of the tests, hardly anything she wrote is right."
"So, unless you're just not as smart you think you are, you're thinking she bribed the professor. Maybe slept with him for better grades and then what? She got what she wanted, dumped him and he killed her," Nick theorized, realizing where Greg was going with all this.
"Or, he found out she had an actual boyfriend and went green eyed monster on her. I tallied up what her grades would have been if these had been marked correctly, she would have had like a 58 percent, not nearly enough to keep that juicy scholarship. And just for the record, TA's usually do the marking, not the actual professor," Greg added.
"That actually sounds pretty plausible, gives me something to go on at least. Great work Greg. Really, I mean that," Nick said proudly as he got up, "I'll go follow up on this right now, find out who marked all these. You want to come with, I could use some company and you could get an assist on the case."
"Tempting," Greg said as he twirled around in his chair, "But I'm tired, I'm going to head home, it's been a long day."
Nick looked at the clock and frowned, "Hey, your shift ended an hour and a half ago, don't tell me you stayed late just for this." Nick asked as he sat back down and pushed his chair closer so they were facing each other.
Greg shrugged, "Well I wasn't going to leave you to work out advanced Chemistry equations yourself. I didn't mind, I want to help."
"You definitely did Greggo, you may have broken it wide open. Thank you, I was about to close the file," Nick said sincerely, hating to leave someone's murder unsolved. He had this horrible feeling a person wouldn't be able to rest in death unless their killer was caught. "Just don't push yourself too hard okay. I know you're trying to impress everyone and prove you deserve that badge, but trust me, everyone already knows. No point in burning yourself out over nothing."
Greg smiled a little, appreciating Nick's honesty, "Thanks, that's actually really good to hear. And don't worry, I'm not burnt out. I've worked way longer shifts than this in DNA."
"Different kind of work G," Nick pointed out. What he meant was that DNA processing wasn't nearly as mentally exhausting as the collection portion of crime solving and Greg had to agree.
"I know, but I can handle it. Thanks though," Greg said again as he stood up to leave. "I'll see you tomorrow maybe."
"Yeah, night Greg."
"Later," Greg answered, walking out the door.
With two short waves they parted ways, one to sleep, one to work, not knowing that tomorrow would be a much more exhausting day.
By the early hours of the morning Nick and Greg were both in their respective beds after a hard, but rewarding night's work. After a good few hours sleep Nick awoke refreshed but also oddly uneasy. Shaking his head, he dismissed the feeling as bad dreams. He got up and showered, shaved and then had a few hours to kill before he had to go back in, so decided to call the friend that he didn't think he had seen enough of lately.
It was four rings before Greg picked up, even then sounding groggy.
"Hello?" he asked, too tired to check the display.
"Sorry G," Nick said apologetically but also a little perplexed - Greg should have been asleep long before he was. "Did I wake you?"
"Uh, maybe … yeah, I don't know," Greg admitted, rubbing his eyes as he tried to organize his thoughts.
"Something wrong? I thought you promised to get some rest," Nick said.
Greg sighed, "It's not like I didn't try, trust me. It's weird, I'm … I don't know. I got this weird, anxious feeling for no reason. Totally destroying my sleep cycle. Past few hours I've felt like I'm half asleep half awake, it's weird."
"That is weird," Nick agreed. It sounded like stress to him, so he asked seriously. "Do you want to talk about it?"
"Nothing to talk about," Greg admitted honestly. "Seriously, nothing's bothering me, I don't know what's wrong."
"Huh," Nick said, at a loss. "I don't know then. I was just calling to see if you wanted to grab something to eat before work."
Greg groaned apologetically, "I can't Nick, sorry. I got a few more hours before shift, I gotta try to get some real sleep."
"No, that's cool, you sleep. Try warm milk or some crazy Norway remedy to calm your nerves," Nick suggested. "Your grandfather must have taught you something."
Greg laughed, "Yeah. Thanks for the amazingly original advice Nick, I will. I'll see you later."
"Okay, bye Greg." Nick hung up and decided he didn't want to go out to eat by himself so just made his own breakfast/supper and watched some television. After more than an hour of finding there was nothing good on, he was finally getting ready to leave when his phone rang.
"Stokes. Hey Catherine. No, I'm not running late, I was just leaving. Yeah, I know where it is. A double? Coroner pronounce? Okay, number 52, I'll meet you there. Oh, you are. Yeah, that'd be great, see you in a few."
Nick hung up and grabbed his field kit, making sure it was well stocked. From Catherine's rushed tone and eagerness to get to the crime scene, so much so that she was picking him up, he could tell this case was going to be huge, and he wanted to be prepared.
He wouldn't be.
A slow hour passed and Greg was still tossing in bed, trying to rest his mind, but the strange uneasiness wouldn't leave his mind, and he was stuck in between reality and dreams. After awhile he turned on his television, hoping some white noise would lull him into real sleep, but it was the news that clicked on and the story grabbed his attention.
There had been a double murder earlier in the evening that was being covered, and it looked high profile. The victims were a rich couple in a good neighbourhood, kind of far out of the city. It must have been a professional job because the place looked gated and well secured. The reporter said the husband, Mark Waller, had been a very successful computer software developer which meant the wife, Jessica Waller, probably didn't do anything for a living because she didn't have to with that much money, and had been collateral damage. There would have been all kinds of motive and suspects to look into for their deaths, and Greg knew the police would really have their hands full cracking that one. The reporter was in front of the police tape but in the background Greg could see the house was huge and surrounded by police cars and people in black. He leaned closer and smiled, the two men in front taking photos were definitely Nick and Warrick.
"Congratulations guys, you're stars," he murmured. Greg watched until the story finished, with the reporter promising to have more as it was known, and then he laid back down to try to sleep.
He was only moments into another of his disturbing waking dreams when his restless sleep was once again interrupted by the ringing of his phone. This time he did check the caller ID and groaned.
"Hey Grissom what's up?" he asked in greeting, trying not to sound like he'd just woken up.
"Greg, I know you're not on duty for a few hours but I'd like it if you could come in early, Catherine could use an extra set of hands at her crime scene. The grounds are going to take awhile to process and they could use some help," Grissom explained.
Greg wanted to sigh, but kept it in. He didn't want to work yet, he felt more exhausted then when he got home, but he appreciated Grissom asking. It meant he had faith in Greg working important crime scenes, which is why he answered, "Yeah sure, I can be there in a few minutes. The murder in Birchwood, right?"
"Yes, how did you know?" Grissom asked.
Greg rubbed his eyes, trying to wake up, "Uh, it's all over the news, I just figured that was it."
"Oh, good. Find Catherine when you get there, she'll make sure you get past the tape."
"Yeah, no problem. I'll be there in a few minutes. Bye."
"Bye Greg, thanks," Grissom finished.
Greg sighed and rubbed a hand through his hair. It needed gel he decided, and he needed to get moving. Despite being tired, he was excited to work a high profile case, his first as an official CSI. He got ready quickly, not wanting to be late, and was out the door within twenty minutes. Greg smiled as he grabbed his kit and walked out the door, because Grissom had just assigned him to go work with Nick and Warrick all day, which he had no problem with considering how little he got to see the two lately.
Donning one of his new professional outfits and a fresh hairstyle, he whistled as he walked to his car, thinking it would be a good day. He was wrong.
When he reached the house Catherine was still outside processing but there was no sign of Nick and Warrick. She saw him and waved for the police to let him by. Usually cops didn't even guard the tape, but the media was still going strong and a lot of people were trying to sneak through.
"Hey Greg, thanks for coming in."
"No problem. I would have been here sooner but these media people are nuts. They wouldn't even move when I had my police lights on, I had to park way behind the tape," he said in greeting, amazed at how cutthroat these reporters were.
"They're vultures all right, just keep your distance or you'll get suckered into an interview you didn't know you made and that can lead to problems. Just ask Nick," Catherine warned as she led him into the house.
Greg quirked an eyebrow, "Maybe I will. Actually they were questioning me as I was coming in, before I'd even looked at the scene."
"They want to know whatever you know Greg. Even if you think you don't know anything, it's usually more than they do," Catherine replied, clearly speaking from experience.
"Well, I'm not here about them, where do you want me?" he asked as he began visually scanning the enormous mansion.
"The DB's are upstairs, that's where most of the things that it looks like they were trying to steal were as well. What we don't know yet is how they got in. I'd like you to work down here with Nick and try to figure that out, I'll be upstairs with Warrick," she said.
"You're the boss, boss. I'll see what I can do," he promised.
She smiled and headed towards the stairs, "Okay, have fun."
"Oh I will," he whispered to himself, then carefully began walking through the downstairs, checking out just how big it was. When he got to the back of the house he found a door leading outside to the pool area, and there was Nick, crouched down on his knees using the ALS to try and find usable footprints in the concrete.
Nick hadn't seen him and he stood in the doorway smiling, "So, you think this is how the bad guys came in?"
Nick spun around and smiled, "Hey G, what are you doing here?"
Greg came closer, "Grissom called me in, said you guys could use a hand with the processing, since there's so much of it." And there was. The backyard was about the size of a football field. This could be a long day.
"Yeah, it's going to be a tough one, but I do think they used this door to get in," Nick stated, laying out the scene.
"And why's that?" Greg asked, knowing there were probably a hundred possible ways into this house.
"I found a good amount of dirt on the concrete, it runs dry before it gets to the door, but it tells me that someone came all the way from the grass, across the pool's concrete walkway and up to the house. If someone had just been using the pool there'd be no reason to have dirt or grass on their feet, this concrete's cleaner than your place," Nick commented.
Greg huffed, "Hey, I did the dishes."
"Greg, you have a dishwasher," Nick pointed out.
Greg didn't back down, "Well they're still in there, being cleaned."
"And I'm sure they'll be lovely, now let's get to work. You can dust that door for me if you want," Nick requested.
"Sure," Greg replied, opened his kit and removed his dusting powder, "So, how'd the case go last night? Was it the professor or what?"
"No, the teaching assistant, you were right. Same guy marked both classes' papers. I got a warrant, Brass and I confronted him and he confessed after we told him we had DNA and fingerprints that we would eventually match to him. Case closed. And I told Catherine how you helped out, she's putting you down as an assist on the case," Nick replied as he continued combing the grounds with the ALS.
"You didn't have to do that," Greg pointed out, "You did the grunt work."
"No, you deserved it. Besides, I couldn't really take credit for being able to notice that fourth year university Chemistry equations were wrong, I don't really have the expertise," Nick added, and Greg had to agree.
They kept working for almost their entire shift and found disappointingly little. A few good footprints were preserved in a new patch of dirt in the lawn, verifying that there were at least two robbers and that the back door was how they got in. But there were no fingerprints anywhere and the security tapes revealed the men were wearing masks at all time and had apparently somehow known the code to turn off the security system, which had pretty much left the Wallers' defenceless.
It was almost three in the morning and Nick and Greg were ready to go back to the lab with their samples and start trying to put the pieces together. They told Catherine and Warrick they were leaving, both of whom congratulated both of them for solving Nick's case the day before. Warrick and Catherine still had another room to process that had been badly ransacked by the thieves, but sent Nick and Greg ahead with the samples they had taken already.
They got outside to find the area pretty much deserted. The media had left after a few hours of being told nothing, which only left a few cops and the CSIs, none of whom had seen the two black figures that had snuck into the area nearly an hour before.
As they walked, Nick realized, "Oh yeah, Catherine drove me, we're both going to have to take your car."
"Damn, and just when I thought I was going to get rid of you," Greg joked. "Sorry I parked so far, the news vans wouldn't move for me so I gave up and walked in."
"You just gotta be aggressive with them. Did you beep the horn?" Nick asked, smiling since he knew Greg wasn't big on pushing people around.
Greg rolled his eyes, "Of course I … Oh no wait, I don't think I did. No, I must have. Either way, I had my lights on, they should have moved."
"Well, there's what people are supposed to do and then there's what people do," Nick said wisely.
Greg just nodded. They had reached his car, which was a black SUV with tinted windows. It wasn't flashy or classic like his old car, which was what he really wanted, he was a car buff after all. But he had learned from his fellow CSIs that the SUV was the best way to go, it could get you to any crime scene, looked authoritative and had the trunk space necessary for all the gear they used.
Now that they were at the trunk Greg realized he was carrying most of the samples and with his arms full he couldn't get his keys in the lock, "Hey Nick, could you take some of these so I can pop the trunk?"
Nick didn't take any packages, instead he snatched the keys from Greg's fumbling fingers, "How about I just take these and do it for you?"
"That works," Greg said, placing the samples down gently after Nick lifted the lid. He backed away and dusted his hands off as Nick put his field kit in as well and then pulled the keys out.
"You mind if I drive?" he asked.
"No, go ahead. I don't know my way around here that well anyway, I had to ask directions on the way in," Greg admitted as he got in the passenger side.
Nick started the car and they pulled out. Greg tried to suppress a yawn, "Can we stop somewhere for coffee? I don't want any of that muck at the lab, I think they mix it with dirt for flavour."
"I know what you mean. That coffee pot has really been going downhill since you stopped supplying it," Nick commented as he navigated easily through the twisted roads and side streets of the secluded neighbourhood.
"Well I couldn't keep funding the entire lab's caffeine addiction, I have enough trouble feeding my own," Greg added. "So, what do you think our chances are of finding these guys?"
"It's hard to say. From what we found alone, kind of slim. But Warrick and Catherine might have found something and the cops are doing the usual background check for enemies, might turn up something. Either way, it'll probably be awhile until we have a suspect, let alone the hard evidence to prove it," Nick guessed.
Greg nodded and leaned back in his chair, clearly settling in for the nearly half hour drive to the lab. Nick reached for the radio knob and Greg tensed.
"I swear if you put it on that country station I will never let you in my car again," Greg threatened, sounding quite serious. As well as Nick and Greg got along on almost every subject, they would never be able to agree on music. "I gotta keep my car's dignity."
"Never Greggo?" Nick asked sceptically, his hand still hovering over the dial, undecided.
"Not for a month at the very least then," Greg promised and actually seemed to mean it.
"We're not listening to Hardcore 103, it's just people screaming," Nick replied, knowing that was Greg's favourite station.
Greg never finished his sentence. He and Nick both heard the quiet, distinct sound of a gun's safety clicking off, and as they both turned around to find the source two black, masked figures suddenly appeared in the back seat, a glint of sleek metal in each of their hands.
"Holy shit …!"
Nick immediately reached for his gun and nearly went off the road, but the armed man behind him had his gun touching Nick's temple before he could even touch the handle of his own weapon.
"Don't even think about it Cowboy," the man warned. Nick knew he was serious and moved very slowly to put his hands back on the wheel.
Beside him, Greg had not had a chance to react in any way. He didn't even carry a gun that he could reach for, his only thought was escape and he might have been reaching for the door handle when the second man grabbed him. Reaching one hand around the headrest he covered Greg's mouth and with the other he ran the tip of his gun slowly up Greg's neck to rest under his chin.
"I've always been kind of partial to classic rock myself," the second man whispered cruelly, smiling with delight as he saw the fear his presence had caused in the young man – the rapid breathing, the panicked expression, the whole body tension – it gave him an adrenaline rush that he loved.
"Keep driving, nice and steady. Do exactly as we say and we can all walk away from this with as many limbs intact as possible," the first man instructed to Nick as he took away the Texan's gun. "I trust you only have the one," the man asked, pushing his own gun harder into Nick's temple, tilting his head to the side.
"Yeah, that's it," Nick replied, only looking at the man through the rearview mirror, and then only when he wasn't focussing on Greg or the road. The younger CSI seemed all right – he was scared but unharmed so he focussed on their attackers. Both the gunmen were probably in their late thirties, they were white and well built, Nick would guess former military, and they were very, very confident of their dominance in this situation.
The second man leaned closer to Greg's ear and slowly ran the gun barrel down from Greg's temple to his jaw and then whispered, "Are you going scream if I move my hand away? Because I wouldn't mind if you did."
Greg closed his eyes and tried to calm himself and then shook his head. The man seemed disappointed but removed his hand from over Greg's mouth.
"Well that's all right I guess," he said smiling, then reached around the chair and patted down both of Greg's hips. When he found nothing he became serious, bringing his weapon to Greg's temple once more, "Where's your gun stud?"
Greg shook his head and pulled as far away from the weapon as possible, then replied shakily, "I don't … I don't have one."
This almost seemed to anger the man, "What kind of cop doesn't carry a gun?" He asked, clearly implying Greg was lying.
"I'm … we're not cops," Greg said in return, trying to turn around to look the man in the eye to prove he was being sincere, but it didn't work.
"You've been at the Waller place all day, that makes you cops," he insisted, his gun becoming threatening again.
"He's telling the truth," Nick spoke up, drawing both men's attention, "We're crime scene investigators, we just collect the evidence. We don't have to carry guns. He doesn't have one."
"It's true," their first attacker added, seemingly more knowledgeable than most on the subject. "They don't all have them."
This seemed to please the second man and he became politely cruel once more, "Well you should really think of getting one," he checked the ID on Greg's shirt, "Gregory Sanders, CSI 1. They make life so much simpler."
Greg couldn't respond. He'd never had a gun pulled on him before, he wasn't even comfortable around them for protection and for this reason this situation terrified him more than it did Nick, who had some experience being threatened at gunpoint.
"Who are you guys? What do you want?" Nick asked, trying to keep the situation calm and maybe bring it to an end.
Find out what these guys want, give it to them, and then they'll go away, Nick told himself. And then Greg will be safe and tomorrow I'll take him to the shooting range and force him to learn to use a gun.
"Since you asked, you can call me Dallas and my friend here is Memphis," the first man replied.
"Nice to meet you," the second man, Memphis, taunted. He shifted his gun to just under Greg's chin and pushed up, "And what do we say in return?"
Greg was trying not to tremble and was doing a fairly decent job, but surprised even himself when he replied sarcastically, "The pleasure is all yours."
This did not sit well with Memphis, who grabbed Greg's hair with his free hand, pulling his head back even further, "My goodness that was rude. Don't you know you're supposed to be polite to the people who decide whether you live or die?"
Greg immediately regretted talking back and his breathing became even faster, more panicked, with this threat. He closed his eyes and willed this not to be happening, but when he opened them again the first thing he saw was his reflection in the rearview mirror, with this masked gunman behind him, gun at his throat – this couldn't be more real.
"Leave him alone," Nick demanded, feeling amazingly powerless from only two feet away.
Dallas chuckled, "Ah Cowboy, looks like someone's protective of their boy."
"He is very pretty," Memphis commented disturbingly, moving his second hand to run down Greg's cheek, who couldn't pull away with the gun pushed so far into his skin. "Can we keep him?"
"You son of a bitch!" Nick would have undoubtedly lunged at the armed man if Dallas hadn't pushed his gun directly into Nick's line of sight, stilling all rebellion. Nick still growled, "What the hell do you want?"
"Well, that's for us to know, isn't it? Pull over here," Dallas demanded. There was nothing out there but desert, as they were still beyond the city limits and the road was as close to deserted as it came.
Nick had a bad feeling about this (how could he not?), but he had no choice but to comply.
As soon as they were stopped Dallas wordlessly put away his gun and got out of the car. At the same time Memphis released Greg and pushed into the middle of the backseat to keep his gun trained on both the CSIs at the same time. It was only then that Greg made any attempt at eye contact with Nick. He was shaking so bad he almost couldn't bear it but was not surprised, and was also a little comforted, that Nick was more angry and upset than scared. Or at least if he wasn't, he was hiding it well.
"You okay?" Nick asked so quietly he doubted even Memphis heard behind them.
Greg nodded, not trusting himself to speak much, but wanting to sound braver than he felt, replied, "Yeah, I'm good."
Nick was going to say more but his attention was drawn to the front of the SUV, where Dallas walked past and then quickly came up on the passenger side, viciously tearing open Greg's door. His gun was drawn again.
"Take off your seatbelt, get out of the car," he ordered, motioning nonchalantly. That was probably the scariest thing about these men, they were armed and they were very confident, fearless and unhesitant of exerting their power, which probably meant they had no fear of shooting or killing the two CSIs.
Greg didn't move at first, then he looked at Nick, who asked, "Why?"
"Because I said so, now do it," Dallas demanded again.
Greg's mind was in a haze from the terror of being threatened so brutally at gunpoint and his reaction was slow.
"Did that sound like a suggestion?" Dallas asked, clearly not amused.
This made Greg spring into action and he began to fumble with the lock on his seatbelt, "Sorry … I can't … it won't …"
The lock finally clicked when Memphis undid it from behind, "Let me help you there, 'Greggo'."
Nick glared at him but then turned back to Greg, who was being pulled out of the car by Dallas.
"Come on," the masked man demanded as he pulled the young man out roughly.
"Hey, what are you doing?" Nick asked, reaching to unbuckle his own seatbelt to follow the man, but Memphis cocked his gun from behind, stopping him.
"Relax Cowboy, we're just making sure we can keep an eye on both you two. Don't want you trying anything foolish that will end up with either of you being less alive than you are now," Memphis said smoothly as Dallas opened the back door and shoved Greg into the backseat headfirst.
"Hey Stud, glad you decided to join me," Memphis commented as Greg slowly pushed himself into a sitting position.
"Didn't really have much of a choice," Greg whispered under his breath. Memphis obviously heard him but didn't become angry, instead he just laughed - it was the sound of sadism. There was no real mirth in it, just enjoyment in other's pain and the anticipation of violence.
"You're walking a thin line Greggo, I'd be careful," Memphis said, bringing up his gun again. Greg flinched away, half from the gun and half from the twisted way this man was using his nickname like they were friends.
In the front seat, Dallas settled himself in, set the radio to a classic rock station and then announced, "That's better. All right, keep driving. Straight until I tell you to stop."
Nick took a calming deep breath and did as instructed. Once he was on the road he immediately looked in his rearview mirror, from which he had a clear view of Greg in the back. The younger man was scared and trying to hide the fact that he was trembling, but overall he was holding it together. Greg knew Nick could see him and even tried to smile for him, but he knew it did not come across as assuring.
Then Greg's attention was drawn back to Memphis as the larger man pulled a pair of handcuffs seemingly out of nowhere.
"Turn around," he instructed, snapping them open.
Greg hesitated, unsure what he meant, and definitely sure he didn't want to, and this did not please the short tempered gunman.
"You heard me Stud, turn around," Memphis ordered again, quickly becoming physical. In one swift move he holstered his gun, pushed Greg's head roughly into the door window and pulled back his arms, snapping a cuff tightly around each wrist. When he was done, his hand was still pushing Greg's head hard into the glass and he whispered in his ear.
"When I tell you to do something, you do it, kay Greggo?"
To emphasize his point he pulled Greg's head back a little and then slammed it against the glass once more, hard enough that the thud resounded through the car.
"Ah, God," Greg hissed as he leaned forward, head almost touching his knees as he waited for the pain to pass.
Nick watched all this in the mirror and couldn't hold back his anger, "Stop it, for God's sake, he hasn't done anything to either of you. So why don't you tell us what the hell you want and leave us alone?"
"Nick, I'm okay … it's okay," Greg rushed out, wanting Nick to be quiet before he angered these men any more.
Memphis was unphased by the outburst though and Dallas just chuckled.
"Let's just say you're on a need to know basis, and right now, you don't need to know. Memphis?" Dallas tilted his head as if Memphis should be doing something.
"Yeah, I got it. Now, don't you move and make me hurt that pretty face of yours even more," Memphis crooned to Greg as he holstered his gun once more and started to lean back into the trunk. The entire car was silent as he sifted through the trunk's content. Nick stared straight at the road, and watched Greg – it looked like he'd have a black eye – and tried to come up with a plan to take out these men, but there was absolutely nothing he could do to disarm them both that wouldn't end up killing him and Greg as well, short of crashing the car and hoping for the best. That was especially impossible now that Greg was handcuffed since it meant he couldn't even open the car door and make a run for it.
Beside him, Dallas hummed along to the radio as casually as if he was on a roadtrip with his buddies.
In the back, Greg was trying to make himself invisible. Not moving or making eye contact, he figured passiveness was his best bet for survival with these guys, and considering how scared he was it was about all he could manage. The key was in not upsetting these guys and Greg was getting worried because right now Memphis seemed to be upsetting himself as he couldn't seem to find what he was looking for in the trunk.
There were more than twenty sealed evidence bags in the crates behind them and Memphis had periodically opened each one, emptying out the contents and going through them piece by piece. At first Greg thought he was just destroying the evidence, breaking the chain of custody and making it unusable in court, but as he continued tearing open only the bags, leaving the swabs and cameras completely alone, it was clear he was looking for something.
There was now no doubt in either Greg or Nick's minds that these were the men that had killed the Wallers and would not hesitate to kill again, and now it seemed they may have left something behind. Something they were desperate to get back.
Memphis tore the last bag open and emptied it, only to find a pair of Mr. Waller's shoes. He growled, becoming frustrated, maybe even panicked, and started tearing through the trunk, looking for more bags.
"Dallas, it's not here," he announced as he searched desperately, trying to sound calm but only coming off as upset.
Dallas also quickly became concerned, "What do you mean? Of course it's there, they take everything, I told you that."
Memphis threw a bottle of Luminol from the trunk in anger, nearly hitting Greg in the head. "Well they must not take everything, because it's not fucking here!"
"Goddammit! Look again," Dallas swore up front, turning to stare out the window and think.
In the back, Memphis's angered gaze fell on Greg and he lunged at the defenceless CSI with all his might, squeezing his strong hand around the young man's throat and lifting him up off the seat.
"Where is it you fucking faggot? Where's the disk?" he demanded, slamming Greg's head against the glass again.
Greg tried to kick out with his legs and struggled for air, but little was making it to his lungs. All he could do was shake his head and squeak out a barely audible, "I don't know."
"Don't fucking lie to me! Where's the disk?" Memphis repeated, shaking Greg again.
"What disk?" Nick asked urgently from the front. "Let him go! We don't know what you're talking about."
Dallas had his gun pointed, for the first time perhaps intending to fire, he was that angry, "A blue compact disk, it was in the house, where is it? Give it to us right now, or he dies."
The threat was very real, Greg was being strangled to death in the backseat, his vision already starting to darken, and Nick had no idea what these angry, armed men were talking about.
Hope you enjoy. Any thoughts? Better than my last one? Tell me what you think. Thanks muchly, Goody.