Disclaimer: Hell has not frozen over, nor has the world ended. Therefore, I do not own the rights to CSI or Dead Like Me. Damn.
Spoilers: None, really.
A/N: You do not have to be familiar with Dead Like Me to read this fic. Not so much of a cross over as a guest star role. All you need to know is that George (also Rube and Mason) is a Grim Reaper. She is assigned a post-it note with a name, location, and time of death, and must collect that person's soul before they die. She does this by touching the person. Sometimes even after death, the soul doesn't want to leave.
Thanks to Corrina for the awesome Beta'ing, and BrookLynn for the read through and approval.
"Do I haffta?" She knew there was a childish whine in her voice, but she didn't care.
"Why do you have to make this so difficult?" Rube passed her the assignment, shaking his head at her tone of voice.
"Come on, Georgie. Road trip to Vegas. Gambling, showgirls. What could be more fun?" Mason's eye's lit up at the thought. Desperately, he wished the Post-it in George's hands was his own.
"Mason wants to go. Can't we trade?"
"Yeah, I want to go." Mason said. "How 'bout it, Rube. I'll go to the Big Easy, and George can stay here with whatever boring assignment you gave to me."
"The Big Easy is New Orleans, you moron." George turned back to the man across the table from her. "Please?"
"Let me think about it...no. Nice try, peanut, but you know the rules. Reaps are non transferable. Your job, your soul." With that, Rube stood up and left the table.
"No fair. It's not even someone famous." George grumbled
The only good thing about the assignment was the drive. Her recently acquired – stolen – convertible was always fun to drive. It was even more fun on the long stretches of empty highway between Seattle and Vegas, when she could increase the pressure of her foot and watch as the speedometer needle shoot past 120 mph. As a result, she arrived in Vegas when the sun was still up. Not the best introduction to the city. The Strip glowed at night with millions of kilowatts of neon in a rainbow of colors. During the day, in the harsh sunlight, it looked tacky and aged.
George pulled into a parking spot on one of the streets just of the main boulevard. She pulled the post it note of the dashboard where she had stuck it for safe keeping. ETD 3:18 am. She had hours to wait until her assignment's estimated time of death. Maybe she would take
Mason's advice, and try her hand at gambling.
The address on her post it led her to a convenience store. She arrived half and hour early, and was surprised to find that it was already the scene of a crime. Two police cars with their lights flashing were parked alongside the street in front of the store. George wondered if the time could have been wrong. Was she too late? With practiced nonchalance, she approached the store and tried to enter.
"You can't go in there." A young beat cop stopped her.
"I'm sorry. I just wanted to get a candy bar and a cup of coffee. Long day, you know."
"Store's closed to customers."
"What happened? Did someone... get hurt?" She tried to make herself look horrified at the idea, but a too-close acquaintance with death tempered her expression.
"Naw, just a robbery. Some punk ran off with the money from the cash register."
So she wasn't late. Not wanting to draw attention to herself, George wandered away from the store, rounding the corner into an alley. From this spot she could still overhear the people around her, without being noticed by anyone. Leaning against the wall, she waited for the right
sign., a clue that would lead her to the person who's name was written on her Post-it. As it turned out, she didn't have long to wait.
A black SUV pulled up next to the police cars, and two people stepped out. The driver was an older man, gray hair and a beard. His passenger was a woman, tall, with brunette hair. They both wore black vests over their clothes, emblazoned with the letters LVPD. Stitched in white on the right side of each vest was a name. One said Sidle, the other Grissom. George had found her assignment.
She peeked around the corner, making sure the cop she had spoken to earlier was gone. Rubbing her eyes roughly and concentrating, she worked until she could feel moisture gather in the corner of her eye. With a quick pace, George approached the new arrivals.
"My sister. I think my sister is in there." With as much drama as she could muster, she gestured at the convenience store.
"Brass, are there any customers in the store?" The brunette woman looked at her with sympathy before calling to someone behind George's back.
"No, all clear," a gruff voice replied.
"Her name is Reggie. She was just going to take a walk, but then I heard sirens, and I was worried." Shamelessly she used the name of her little sister, tapping into emotions that were stranger now that she was dead then when she was alive.
"I'm sure she's fine. Probably waiting for you at home, wondering where you went." In a soft and comforting voice, the older man spoke to her.
"Do you really think so?" The hope was easy to infuse in her voice, when she pictured Reggie, safe at home.
"I do." He smiled at her, and she gave him a half hearted one in return. It sucked, knowing that this was probably the last time he would smile for a long while.
"Griss, I'm going to get started taking pictures."
"Right behind you, Sara."
They both started to walk away, but George stopped them. "Wait."
"Thank you." She reached out and grasped the hand closest to her, feeling that familiar tingle she always sensed when drawing a soul out of its body.
They both disappeared into the store. Most of George's job was done. She knew that she didn't have to watch this part, but for some reason felt the need to see what happened. She watched through the glass as the pair worked in tandem, photographing, dusting for prints, picking up objects with latex encased hands and storing them in plastic bags. Few words were spoken as they went about their job. Every once in a while one of them would look up and glance at the other one. They could have simply been keeping an eye on their coworker, but George saw something in the way they looked that told her it was something more.
Intent on their work, neither person noticed the man come in throughout the back door. George saw him. She saw the gun in his hand too. It was almost like a play, except that it was all too real. The gun was raised, shots fired. There was no bargaining, no chance to negotiate. Just a pair of bullets and a body falling to the ground, a black vest growing darker and slick with blood.
George was no longer alone in observing the scene before her. She looked down at the post-it note before greeting the person beside her.
"Hello, Mr. Grissom."
He didn't acknowledge her, intent on the scene inside the store.
"Drop the gun, you bastard." The woman, Sidle, held her gun in front of her, supported by both hands. The young man was waving his own gun around, trembling in the way that George recognized from her experiences with Mason. The man was on drugs.
The sound of gunfire had alerted the police standing outside the store. They all rushed in, led by an older slightly balding man in a suit. Grissom, unaware of his new non-corporeal state, followed them. His eyes widened when one of the officers ran right through him. The shock didn't stop him for long. He raced into the store, stopping just inches from the woman holding the gun, not noticing that his own body lay directly behind him in a pool of blood.
One of the uniformed officers had already tackled the cranked up man, and had him pinned to the ground. The man in the suit, a detectives badge hanging around his neck, was talking in a low voice to the woman named Sidle.
"It's over, Sara. We've got him. Let go of the gun and hand it to me, okay?" He reached to remove it, but her grip was too tight. Whether on purpose or accident, her gun was still pointed in the direction of the man who had shot her partner. The look on her face said that she hadn't entirely decided against pulling the trigger.
"It's alright, honey. You can give Brass the gun." Grissom reached for her, cupping his palm to caress her cheek. His fingers passed throughout her skin.
"Sara, honey, I need you to let go of the gun, okay." The man with the badge spoke again, this time getting more of a reaction then he expected.
"Don't call me that!" the distract woman yelled. Her hold on the gun loosened, and the man took the opportunity to grab it and pass it on to the police officer standing next to him.
"Don't call you what?"
"Honey. He called me that once. When the lab exploded and I was... I was bleeding..." she stared in horror at the sight before her. Sinking to her knees, she covered her face with her hands, as if blocking out the image of the dead body made it go away. The two men stared at her, one unsure of what to do, the other unable to do anything. George walked up to the newly deceased man.
"It's time to go."
"No." He looked away from the distraught woman and met George's eyes. She could tell from the stubbornness that she saw there that this man would not be easy to convince. Damn it, why do I always get the difficult ones?
"There's nothing left for you here. It's time to move on." She waited for the inevitable questions, hating that she still had no real answers to give. What's next? Where am I going? The questions didn't come. Instead he tensed his jaw and furrowed his brows.
"I'm not leaving."
"It's not your choice. You have to go." That wasn't completely true. She had known souls that lingered for days before going on, but she wasn't about to tell that to this man. As long as he was here, she was stuck too.
"I'm not going anywhere until I know that Sara's... that she'll be okay. I've let her down too many times already. I'm not doing it again." There was a haunted look in his eyes in the moment before he turned away.
George stepped back, deciding that he might be more compliant if she gave him some time to adjust to the sudden changes. She knew from her own experience that suddenly finding yourself dead could be a shock. From the corner of the store she watched as he crouched down in frond of
the sobbing woman. He whispered to her in words that neither George or the other woman could hear. In desperation, he looked up to the weathered police detective.
"Do something, Jim. You have to help her." He knew by now that he wouldn't be heard, but he had to vent his frustration. Maybe it was a coincidence, but the man bent down and physically picked up the brunette, wrapping his arm around her and forcing her to walk out the door. He led her to a SUV, making sure she got into the passenger seat before
walking around to the driver's side.
"I have to go with them." Any hopes George had that Grissom was ready to go were dashed.
"You can argue all you want. Obviously you can't force me to move onto where ever it is that people go when they die, or you would have done so by now. I'm going to the lab."
George sighed. It looked like her road trip to Vegas was going to last longer then she expected.
"My car's down the street. I'll drive you." Grissom gave her directions, but otherwise remained silent. George pulled her car into a parking lot of a building. The sign in front read 'Las Vegas Crime Lab.'
It was clear from the moment they entered the building that the news of Grissom's death had spread. The receptionists eyes were red, the hallways eerily silent. Grissom kept walking until he came to a room filled with a handful of people. A mocha skinned man with the most startling green eyes George had ever seen had is arms wrapped around a blond haired woman. A young man with wild hair sat on the couch, a stunned expression on his face. Another man with short brown hair stood in the middle of the room. Grissom stood in the hallway next to George,
watching the scene before him.
A sound at the doorway alerted everyone to the presence of the weary homicide captain. He leaned against the wall, shoulders slumped.
"Where's Sara?" One of the occupants of the room and Grissom both asked. Only the young man's query received an answer.
"Grissom's office," the battered man replied with a sigh.
"She shouldn't be alone," the young man sitting on the couch said.
"Maybe she needs to be." From the compassionate conviction in 'green eyes' voice, George could tell that he was speaking from a place of experience.
"I'll go check on her." The brown haired man, similar enough in looks to be the missing mourners brother, didn't wait for a reply before leaving the room. He walked a dozen steps down the hallway before coming to a stop in front of a closed door.
"My office," Grissom explained needlessly. George nodded, as if some response was necessary. Her companion joined the man knocking on the door. He could have just slid through the door, instead of waiting for it to open, but that probably hadn't occurred to him. Fifty years of habit is hard to break.
"Sara, you in there?" The concerned man waited for a response before knocking again. "Sara, it's Nick. I'm coming in, okay?"
He turned the handle and let the door swing open. The windowless office was dark, but he didn't reach for the light.
"Sara?" Just the slightest squeak, but it came from the chair behind the desk, and both Nick and Grissom were able to make out the shadowy form of a woman curled up in the seat.
"Go away, Nick." Her voice was calm and even. Too calm, as if all emotion had been striped away.
"I just wanted to see that you're..." his voice drift off, unsure of what to say. He couldn't ask if she was okay, because obviously she wasn't. None of them were. "Everyone's in the break room. Why don't you come with me?"
"Not everyone, Nick. He's not there."
"I am, Sara," Grissom whispered.
"Why can't you just go, Nick? Leave me alone." The emotion that had been absent in her voice was evident now. Pain and sorrow and anger mixed, filling the air with a thick tension.
"You shouldn't be alone, Sar. Not now." Nick walked around the desk and knelt in front of the chair. "It's not what he'd want."
"How the hell do you know that? Maybe it's exactly what he would want. He certainly left me alone often enough when he was alive." Tears were flowing freely down her face now, and she did nothing to wipe them away.
"God, Sara, no. I never meant you to feel like that." Grissom tried to cover her hand with his own, but this wasn't the movies and no matter how hard he focused or how much emotion he felt, he could not touch her skin. "Please tell me you don't honestly believe that."
"That's not true,' Nick said, almost as if he was talking for Grissom.
"I don't know that, so how can you? We pushed and pulled and ignored each other so much, neither of us ever had a clue about what the other was thinking. He never even knew that I..." Her throat was too tight to continue.
"He never knew what?" Nick reached for her hand, feeling the tears in his own eyes were about to fall.
"Nothing." George could tell from the sobbing woman's eyes that there was something else she wanted to say. The man kneeling before her was not who she wanted to say it to, though. He's right behind you, George wished she could say. The woman wouldn't believe her, so George remained silent.
"Can you leave me alone for a while, Nick? Please?" Reluctantly the man stood up and walked to the doorway. George took a few steps back, so her presence wouldn't be so obvious.
"I'll be in the break room when you're ready, okay Sar?" He waited for her to nod before leaving.
Grissom's jacket was still hanging on the back of his chair where he had left it at the start of shift. Sara grabbed it and pulled it to her face, inhaling the smell. Closing her eyes, she held it to her cheek like a baby with a security blanket.
"I never told him I loved him," she whispered to the seemingly empty room.
"I knew, Sara. You didn't have to tell me, I always knew." A single tear fell down Grissom's cheek.
"I need your help." Grissom found George sitting on the front steps of the lab.
"I need to go home," George retorted.
"I know, and if you do me this little favor, I'll be ready to go to."
"What?" She was anxious to finish this assignment. It was hard enough dealing with the fact that she knew people were going to die and couldn't stop it. Harder when she had to see the aftermath; the grief of those left behind.
"I need you to break into my townhouse."
George's mood suddenly improved. Maybe this wasn't such a bad assignment after all.
"These are pretty." George admired the butterflies displayed in the room. As it turned out, breaking in to the townhouse hadn't been near as much fun as it had sounded. There was a key hidden in a fake rock. Oh, well.
"It's the one in the bedroom that I want." Grissom led the way down the hall. Unlike the living room with its multitude of specimens hanging on the wall, there was only one butterfly in the bedroom. It wasn't hung on the wall, but housed in a thick frame that sat on the table next to the bed.
"Anthocharis Sara," Grissom explained, "the Sara butterfly. That's what we came for."
George picked up the frame, noticing for the first time that there were words written on the glass.
"Since I met you?" she asked. Grissom either didn't here the question, or chose to ignore it. They left the room with their prize. George looked once more at the butterflies lining the wall before heading to the front door.
"Do you want one, to take with you?" Grissom asked.
"A butterfly. You can take one, if you want. A thank you, for helping me."
George didn't hesitate, but walked back into the room and picked a frame off the wall. It was so beautiful, and fragile. Death, captured under glass. Fitting.
George felt like she was a little kid again, playing truth or dare. After leaving the butterfly on the welcome mat to the apartment Grissom pointed out, she rang the doorbell and ran down the hall as fast as she could. A moment later the door opened and Sara walked out, looking up
and down the hall before finally looking down. Her eyes widened when she saw the butterfly, and filled with tears when she read the writing on the glass.