Title: "Hide and Seek"

Author: PonchoLives

Category: Drama/Angst

Disclaimer: I own nothing except that laptop that this story was composed on.

Summary: When a murder leads Nick and Grissom to the door of a prosecutor, they learn the hard way that sometimes the truth is better left hidden. (Mainy Nick-centric.)

Chapter One

"And so, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask you to remember Ruthie Gellar, a sweet, innocent, little girl who's life ended before it hardly had the chance to begin."

The prosecutor's melodic voice filled the courtroom as she took a step closer to the jury. Her every movement portrayed an air of established confidence without losing any of its feminine grace. This young woman attired in a navy blue business suit had commanded the attention of everyone in the room with the force of her words and the power of her presence from the moment she had spoken her first word.

"It is your duty to see that the man responsible for her death pays for his act of violence against her. You have the power to put this man behind bars, to make sure that he cannot ever do to another innocent child what he did to Ruthie."

She paused after this, allowing a deafening silence to fill the courtroom until it almost became unbearable. She took a moment to look each juror in the face, forcing their eyes to lock briefly with hers whether they wanted to or not.

When she spoke again, the tone of her voice held a steely note of determination. "But it is not my desire to give an impassioned plea and play upon your hearts in order to secure a guilty verdict. I am imploring your minds to examine the evidence - the evidence that clearly identifies the defendant as her killer. Do not ignore the truth that is staring you in the face. Turn not a deaf ear upon the cries of the victimized innocent. Thank you."

The prosecutor held the gaze of the jury one final time before returning to her seat.

With a smack of the gavel, the judge dismissed the jury and called a recess. The young prosecutor stood up, placed her papers in her briefcase and prepared to leave the courtroom.

It was only when the crowd of people who had been watching the trial started to get up and make noise that she lowered her defenses a bit by absentmindedly running her fingers through her blonde hair. This action made Nick Stokes smile. He loved it when she did that.

The CSI had been sitting in the back of the room, but as the crowd began to disperse, he quickly moved forward to the young woman.

"That was a great closing, Emily," he said by way of a greeting.

Emily turned her head at the sound of her name and gave Nick a rather apprehensive smile.

"Think so? I was so nervous. With all the butterflies in my stomach, I thought I was going to be sick right there in the middle of the room," Emily confided as they made their way out of the courtroom.

"Well, I never would have guessed it and I pride myself on being able to read people's emotions," Nick reassured her.

They pushed their way into the hallway, joining the crowd of people who were all rushing about their own business. It seemed that everyone moved at top speed in a courthouse. Rather than stand in the hallway and get jostled by the passers by, Nick steered Emily towards an empty bench he had spotted and they sat down.

"So, Investigator Stokes, what brings you here? You already did your part." She inclined her head slightly as she looked at him and gave him a small smile.

"Well, I knew you were nervous since it was your first case as lead prosecutor. Even slam dunk cases can be nerve-wracking." Nick flashed her a smile of his own which caused Emily's to grow wider.

"It was only a slam dunk because of your testimony. You did a great job. Really, I mean it. I don't know how you can get up there and make all that scientific stuff make sense to regular people like me." Emily's blue eyes shown with genuine admiration as they connected with Nick's brown ones.

"Believe me. I've had lots of practice," Nick told her. "But don't discount yourself. You handled yourself like a pro in there, and like I said, your closing comments were terrific. It's clear that you have a lot of passion for your job."

"Well, someone has to fight for those who can't fight for themselves. That's what people like you and me are here for." She bit her lip after saying this and shifted her gaze to her hands, which were folded in her lap.

Nick nodded in silent agreement. Emily's strong desire to seek justice for the victims of horrible crimes was a commonality they both shared. While she portrayed the professional, no-nonsense exterior in the courtroom, her heart was tender and it ached for those who could not help themselves. Just like his did.

Nick cleared his throat before speaking again. "So Miss Trent, may I escort you to lunch in order to celebrate your impending success? My treat?" His eyes twinkled expectantly.

The faintest touch of pink appeared on Emily's cheeks as she replied, "A celebration lunch is a bit premature, don't you think? However, a girl's gotta eat. So, yes, you may escort me to lunch, Mr. Stokes."

"Terrific," the Texan said, rising to his feet. He offered a hand and helped Emily to hers.

As they walked out of the courthouse, Nick heard an all too familiar beep at his waist. He grabbed his beeper and pressed his lips together tightly.

Grissom.

"Looks like my recess is over." he sighed dejectedly. So much for his day off.

"Ah, such is the life of the civil servant." Emily gave a knowing smile.

With an apologetic look, he asked, "Can I get a rain check, counselor?"

"You know where to find me." She placed her hand on his arm, which let him know that he was forgiven.

With a parting smile, Nick Stokes took off down the steps of the courthouse. He had a date with an entomologist and a DB.


Nick arrived at the scene, the alley behind Fresh Choice Market, an hour later. Fresh Choice Market was one of those high-priced, all-natural food stores, and it was located in an upscale neighborhood known for it's low crime rate.

Nick's case swung idly at his side as he nodded hello to the cop who was standing guard over the perimeter of the crime scene. As he ducked under the yellow tape, Brass said a few words in parting to a teenager wearing a red apron and made his way over to Nick.

"Hey Nicky. You're a good sport to come in on your day off. Hope we didn't pull you away from something too exciting." Brass patted Nick on the back with a roguish grin.

Nick gave the detective a small smile before getting down to business. "What's the story here?" he asked. He set his case on the ground, opened it and pulled out a pair of gloves. He put them on with a snap.

Brass glanced at his notes. "Male DB. The store clerk over there was taking out the trash and found our victim lying on some old crates next to the dumpster. Called 911."

Anticipating Nick's next question, he added, "And no, nobody saw or heard a thing."

Nick thanked Brass and walked over to where Grissom was hunched over the body with his camera, watching the coroner get a read on the liver temperature. Nick breathed deep, taking in the stench of rotting vegetables.

"Hey Gris. Got here as soon as I could." Nick knelt down next to his supervisor. He nodded a hello to David and turned his eyes to the body.

The victim appeared to be in his mid thirties and in good physical condition. He was wearing jeans and a light blue dress shirt that had been stained red with the flow of blood that had undoubtedly poured from the gash on his neck. Bruises and blood marred his otherwise handsome facial features and Nick noticed that his black hair was matted with blood as well.

"At first glance, cause of death would appear to be loss of blood, but we'll know for sure after the autopsy." Grissom kept his eyes on the body and pointed to the area around the victim before continuing. "And since there's no blood pool, it stands to reason that this is not our primary crime scene."

Nick nodded in agreement. He voiced a thought that had occurred to him. "Upscale, quiet neighborhood like this seems an odd place for a body dump."

Grissom refrained from commenting on Nick's thought. He shifted his weight as he patiently waited for the young coroner to finish his work.

"Liver temp indicates that he died about 12 hours ago." David informed them.

Nick consulted his watch. "So that puts time of death at about one o'clock this morning."

"Okay fellas. He's all yours." David gestured to CSIs, signaling that they were free to search the body for evidence.

Grissom began to feel the man's pockets for some form of identification. He found none, but his search was not futile. He extracted something from the breast pocket of the victim's shirt. It was a picture of a young boy holding a little girl. Grissom flipped it over and read aloud, "Peter, age 7, and Hannah, age 1."

"The fact that it's not soaked in blood indicates that it was placed in his pocket after he bled out. Must be important to the killer somehow." Nick observed thoughtfully.

Grissom handed the photo over without comment and Nick took a closer look at it. "That's gotta be an old photo. Taken maybe twenty years ago. Possibly more. Either that or the owners of this house are stuck in a time warp."

An idea struck Nick as he bagged the photo. "Maybe Peter's our vic." He glanced at Grissom, hoping for some kind of reaction, but again, Nick's comments went unanswered. He wondered vaguely if Grissom was even listening to him.

Giving up, he watched Grissom continue to rummage through the victim's pockets until he finally produced a room key.

"The Lucky Ace Motel," Grissom read. He flipped it over. "Room 125."

"The Lucky Ace, huh? That's kind of a run-down place with a shady reputation. Could be our primary." Nick said, taking the key from his boss and bagging it as well.

Grissom turned to look at Nick for the first time since he had arrived at the crime scene. "Why don't you head over there? I'll go back with the body. There's nothing else to do here."

Nick thought he detected the faintest hint of annoyance in Grissom's voice which aggravated him. Only Grissom would give him the silent treatment and speak to him in chastising tones for not arriving at the scene sooner to help him. Nick had been enjoying his day off, or trying to at any rate, like he was supposed to be when he'd been called in. Did Grissom expect him to be sitting at home, field kit in hand, waiting for his page? No matter what he did, Nick never seemed able to please his supervisor.

Nick sighed in frustration and got to his feet, muttering, "Lucky Ace, here I come."