Been awhile again. Sorry.
Miles in His Shoes
Brass was so frustrated he almost growled as he punched the phone number into his cell. Pacing in front of the squad car, which was surrounded by more squad cars, he listened to the phone ring on the other end and hoped that they were just in the wrong place.
"Hey, is this Lou Thomas, Carlos Sanchez's parole officer?" Brass asked unable to keep the angry lilt out of his voice. All around him officers and two rundown CSIs waited for the outcome of this phone call, waited to be spurred into action, because if there was one thing cops hated, it was waiting.
"Yeah, who's this?" the gruff voice on the other end demanded.
"This is detective Brass, we're investigating a hostage situation and a double murder and need a current address on Carlos Sanchez," Brass explained, at least being professional through his frustrated fear.
"Ah shit, all right, just a second."
Brass could hear Thomas shuffling through papers but he must have been holding the phone between his shoulder and ear because he asked.
"Carlos only got out a month ago, didn't think he'd want to get into this shit again so quickly. Who'd he kidnap?"
"Nobody, his brother did, a CSI, we're trying to track down places he might go," Brass answered.
"Oh, here, 75 Richmond," Thomas read off a sheet.
Brass's eyes closed and he sighed, "That the only address you got?"
"Because I'm standing in front of 75 Richmond with about twenty other cops and there's nothing here except a house that clearly hasn't been lived in since disco was in style. So what, you've discovered a new way to keep track of your parolees without ever visiting them?" Brass accused. He had been hoping the parole officer would have a different address for Carlos than the one they had in their records, but apparently no such luck.
"Hey, I've got over thirty ex-cons under my watch, and I can't visit them all everyday. Sanchez has been out less than a month, I'm supposed to see him every thirty days, there's not much I can do if he decides to give me a false address," Thomas defended himself, but Brass was in no mood to hear it and said just one thing before he hung up.
"Yeah sure, you keep telling yourself that when our CSI shows up dead."
Mentally reminding himself to get Internal Affairs to check out Thomas's parole officer abilities Brass turned around to see two wide-eyed CSIs behind him, clearly disturbed by what he had just said.
"Shit. Sorry guys, I didn't mean that," he told Nick and Warrick. "I know we'll find him, it's just this guy has no idea where his parolee is. I hate slack PO's."
Nick slumped and spread his palms over the hood of Brass's car, trying to will an idea to come to him, but the car's hood offered nothing.
"So, what do we do now?" he asked, seeming to have completely deflated of hope since they had found that not only was Miguel Sanchez not staying at his brother's, but his brother was not even there to be questioned.
"Go talk to the girl again?" Warrick suggested.
"Nah, she doesn't know anything," Brass said, certain that Anna had told them everything she knew to avoid jail time. "And Miguel doesn't have any other known family members in the city."
"And Carlos isn't picking up from that cell number Anna gave us," Warrick added. "Archie's gonna stay on it though."
Brass had been listening closely to the police scanner as well and reported, "No hits on the APB on Anna's car yet either."
Nick stood up, but still appeared slumped, "So, less than one hour into an investigation and we're out of leads. Well that's always a good sign. At this rate we should find Greg in time for Christmas."
Along with his sarcasm he put both his hands behind his head, as if trying to keep his brain from exploding, and turned to pace away, as if turning his back on the entire situation and that pissed Brass off to no end.
"Hey Nick, I was there too you know, I saw it all go down just like you. If you've got nothing to contribute and want to bitch and moan about everything then go home and do it on your own time, but while you're here you're gonna keep your head straight, get your act together and come up with something productive, or else I'll send you home myself. You want to find Greg, smarten up and do it!"
Brass was in no mood for any bullshit but it did pull Nick out of his stupor.
"You're right, I'm sorry," he said, hands falling to his side. "All right well, where's the rest of the team? They should all be here workin' this."
"Cath and Sara are still in Loughlin. They're headed in but it's a long drive," Warrick replied. "Grissom came in though, he stayed at the first scene to process Miguel's apartment, see if there's anything that might tell him where he is."
"See, you don't wait for leads, you make your own. Why don't you two go help him until we find something else to follow," Brass suggested, trying to keep them both busy and their minds occupied during what he knew was a difficult time.
"Yeah, that's a good idea. Come on Nicky, let's get out of here, there has to be something at Miguel's place."
Nick was tempted to be pessimistic once more and point out that Greg wouldn't be there, but Brass had made a good point that that attitude wasn't getting him anywhere, so he just nodded, "Sure, let's go."
Even if he tried to be positive he couldn't deny that they were no closer to finding Greg and in fact were probably getting further away with each second.
His neck hurt.
That was the first thing Greg noticed when he woke up. Even before opening his eyes he could tell his neck was being strained somehow. All his joints were incredibly stiff so he lifted his head slowly as he became aware of the other pains in his body. His back hurt too, it felt like it was beginning to bruise from leaning against something too long and his skull was throbbing from the blow he had received. When he finally got his head up all the way and tried to stretch his agonized body the real pain hit him and he would have screamed if he hadn't been gagged.
His right arm blazed like fire, far worse than before. Looking down he saw it was because his hands were tied behind his back, pulling awkwardly on the open wound, which was still bleeding and had completely soaked the bandage Anna had given him.
Taking a moment he concentrated on his breathing and trying to ride out the pain as he closed his eyes and tried to get enough air through just his nose. It was a few minutes before he opened them again and actually cared enough to try to figure out where he was.
It looked like a hotel room. The curtains were pulled but there was still enough light for Greg to see a bed, table and television. Craning his sore neck around he saw he had been tied to a radiator. Miguel must have been short on rope, Greg thought, because his wrists were tied together with duct tape around the pipe leading into the wall. He pulled to try and loosen them but groaned loudly and gave up quickly when tears began to sting his eyes from the pain it caused in his arm. Besides, Miguel may have been short on supplies but he hadn't been slack in his work Greg realized as he found that it wasn't just his wrists that were taped but both his hands were wrapped all the way down to the fingertips to ensure he couldn't rip or pull the tape off.
Good old duct tape, for the kidnapper on the go, Greg mused in his head as he continued to survey the room. He was sitting on the floor next to a closet with the door to the bathroom not too far away. On the bedside table he spotted a phone and almost dared to hope, but it was much too far for him to reach.
He didn't see or hear Miguel and wondered where he was. Greg wanted to believe that Miguel had left him here to be discovered later while he made a getaway, but the CSI was also realistic enough to know that he didn't have that kind of luck. Either way, he wasn't about to waste this opportunity and if he didn't have a phone he would just get help the old fashioned way. He would yell.
There was duct tape on his mouth but that wasn't impossible to remove. He brought up his knees and tried to work the edge of the tape off. If he could lift a corner then he could probably pull the rest off with his knees.
He had barely gotten started though when he heard footsteps outside followed by the jingling of a key. Holding his breath, he watched as the lock clicked open and Miguel walked in with a convenience store bag. He looked behind him to make sure no one was watching him then double checked the door lock before he finally turned to Greg.
Miguel's eyes widened when he saw Greg was awake and watching him, then he shifted almost nervously.
Greg watched him closely, feeling a mixture of fear and curiosity as he continued to breathe in short pants as his arm still throbbed horribly. He was frightened of Miguel for the reason that he was prone to random violence as opposed to calculated maliciousness. Almost none of the times he had hit Greg had been planned, in fact his entire kidnapping had been rather spur of the moment and it was Miguel's unpredictability that scared Greg. It was clear that the younger man was grasping onto the barest minimum of a plan at this point and was definitely in over his head, and Greg could only hope that he could continue to handle the stress and not crack under the pressure and do something drastic that they both might regret.
For his part, now that Greg was tied up and he didn't have to worry about watching him, Miguel found himself unsure of what to do with him. He was his hostage, his insurance policy in all of this, but he felt strange just ignoring him and found it impossible to just pretend he wasn't there.
"Hey, you're awake, good, I thought I might have put you in a coma. We're uh gonna be here for awhile, so just sit tight and be quiet," Miguel said finally as he threw his stuff on the bed and took off his shoes. Not facing Greg he tapped his fingers on his leg nervously. Even though he knew he was in charge of everything at this point, he found himself ridiculously wondering what he was supposed to do now. Did he just ignore Greg and leave him tied up? Could he untie him, talk to him?
He really wasn't sure what he'd feel comfortable doing and for the moment he just wanted to pretend that he wasn't in trouble and everything was normal, so he ignored Greg and turned on the television as he opened the sandwich he got at the store. Greg sat quietly, unable to see the TV from where he was, and stared at the floor, trying not to be noticed. It had the opposite effect though as Miguel found it impossible to pretend he wasn't there.
The CSI's arm felt like it had been injected with acid. He was already breathing deeply through his nose, trying to fight the pain with oxygen, but then he shifted and pulled his arm unexpectedly. The pain ran through him like electricity and he bit off a cry as he struggled for more air and tried to keep the tears from rolling out of his eyes.
"Jesus," Miguel mumbled in slight annoyance, hiding his sympathy. Only moments after turning the television on Miguel stood up and walked towards Greg. The CSI shrank away at first, unsure what to make of the movement until Miguel spoke.
"All right, I'm gonna take that tape off, but if you scream or try to yell for help or anything you better believe that the next time I hit you, you won't be waking up."
Greg took the threat quite seriously and nodded in understanding.
"All right then."
Miguel took hold of the edge Greg had been trying to loosen and pulled the tape off in one swift motion.
"Thanks," Greg said, now able to take deeper, calming breaths and perhaps distract himself from the pain in his arm with conversation.
"Yeah, how's your head?" Miguel asked, turning around to rummage through his bag again.
"Well as can be expected I guess," Greg replied timidly. This new position on the floor made him feel constricted and small. Before in the car he had been able to speak to Miguel like a person most of the time, and felt like he had some kind of control. But now that he was tied up, it was very obvious that Miguel was in charge and Greg was at his mercy, causing Greg to lose all his ability at small talk or humor. Instead he was timid with fear, almost submissive as he knew he was totally without options or choice at this point.
When Miguel turned around again Greg saw he was struggling with the safety seal on a bottle of Tylenol Extra Strength.
"How many of these do you want?" Miguel asked suddenly as if it was a completely normal thing to offer. Greg didn't answer and Miguel looked up expectantly.
"I'm not just gonna sit here and listen to you bitch about your poor arm, now how many do you want?" Miguel demanded this time.
"Uh, three I guess," Greg said, looking at the floor. Miguel looked pleased when he answered and tapped three pills out. Greg was reluctant to tip his mouth open to take them, but knew that his body needed the relief so let Miguel feed the pills to him. Miguel also had a bottle of water from the store and gave Greg a drink to wash them down with.
As he turned away Miguel popped two himself and when he saw Greg's inquiring glance said, "Headache."
Greg could understand, although he would bet his was much worse.
"Thanks," Greg mumbled again, feeling oddly grateful. This man was holding him against his will, but he hadn't had to give him the pain relievers. It gave Greg hope about just how sympathetic Miguel's personality was and he found he was almost positive that this man hadn't committed the murders that they had been investigating him for. Miguel seemed like a follower, and this new position as a leader in complete control was obviously very foreign to him as he again shuffled with uncertainty.
"Well, whatever keeps you quiet," Miguel replied, justifying his kindness to keep up the tough mental image he had of himself in his own mind.
Greg saw through this reply but didn't comment. In his head he was going through the weak strategy he had been trying to employ earlier. If he could somehow keep the dialogue between himself and Miguel open he hoped to establish some kind of rapport, maybe even a relationship. That would make it increasingly hard for Miguel to be violent towards him in the future, that is, if Miguel even cared, but Greg had a feeling he did.
As Miguel took a seat on the bed once more and considered turning on the television, Greg took a chance and spoke again.
"So, we're just gonna stay here?" Greg asked as an opener and for sheer curiosity of what was happening.
Miguel looked at him for a moment as he finished chewing a bite of his sandwich before shrugging an answer, "Yeah, for a little while. I paid in cash and used a fake name, so we should be good."
"Great," Greg mumbled sarcastically.
Miguel actually laughed, "I guess that's not what you wanted to hear, is it?"
"Not quite," Greg agreed. On the bed, Miguel sighed and became contemplative.
"Well, this isn't exactly how I planned to spend my day either. You better just get comfortable."
Greg knew what would happen if he tried to do that so just stayed completely still, which was the only thing that made the pain in his arm bearable. He turned in surprise though when it was again Miguel that kept the conversation going.
"So, you collect things at crime scenes huh? Sounds kind of boring, I mean if the crime's already been there and gone," Miguel commented, actually trying to keep Greg talking and trick his mind into forgetting that he was currently running for his life from the cops and a rival gang.
"Well, I wouldn't categorize today under boring," Greg replied offhand.
Terrifying yes, boring, no.
"I assume today's an exception. I mean, you know, normally," Miguel cleared up.
Greg almost shrugged then thought better of it, "No, not really, it's pretty interesting if you're into science at all, and we get to catch the bad guys."
"You mean like me?" Miguel accused, good mood slightly lessening and causing Greg to swallow noticeably.
"Well uh," Greg stuttered. "Sometimes they get away."
It took a moment for him to decide, but eventually Miguel laughed at that, amused by Greg's survival instinct that told him to tell Miguel what he wanted to hear.
"Yeah, sure they do," he mumbled, not convinced at all but still smiling a little as he finished off his food.
Now scared to say the wrong thing again, Greg looked at the floor and didn't respond. That seemed fine to Miguel who was cleaning the garbage off his bed. When he was done Greg saw him take out a wallet and throw it on the nightstand and that's when the CSI noticed his own pockets were very empty.
Miguel noticed Greg eyeing the wallet and almost looked apologetic, "Oh, I needed some cash to pay for the room."
"Well, just try not to max out my credit cards," Greg joked weakly in response, far too nervous to be angry Miguel had stolen from him. "I just got a paycut."
"Oh, I'm really sorry to hear that," Miguel replied sarcastically, no longer showing any signs of sympathy. The wallet had landed open though and as Miguel studied Greg's ID for a moment his eyes widened. "This a fake or something? It says you're almost thirty."
"So you look like you're my age. Man, you must get carded all the time," Miguel commented.
Greg again remembered not to shrug and his arm thanked him for it.
"Guess I just have good genes," he said, even though he knew first hand that his DNA didn't look all that different from any one else's, and he had checked it out personally.
"Annoying genes if you ask me, I hate being asked for ID," Miguel continued as he opened a drawer in the bedside table. The entire conversation suddenly took on a surreal mood as Miguel pulled out a roll of duct tape and tore a strip off even as he seemed to be waiting for Greg to say something in response.
Greg was silent as he watched Miguel take a step closer and pulled his head away when the tape came near his mouth.
"What are you doing?" Greg demanded, nervous fear peaking again.
"I haven't slept in over a day, I'm going to bed and you've gotta be quiet," Miguel explained and was surprised when Greg moved his head to avoid the tape again.
"Please don't," he requested, knowing of at least three cases on the top of his head of people suffocating from a simple piece of duct tape, much like that one. "I'll be quiet, I promise. Please, it's hard to breathe that way, I'll probably just make even more noise. It's not like I'm going to yell out for help with you right there either."
Miguel considered this for a moment and it seemed to make sense to him.
"Fine," he said, and Greg breathed a sigh of relief. But as the tape moved away from his mouth Miguel suddenly brought it up a few inches higher and slapped it over Greg's eyes instead. Greg tried to pull away but the tape stuck immediately and suddenly he could only see darkness.
"Wh … why … what's the point …?" Greg obviously didn't understand but Miguel was quick to supply an answer.
"I can't sleep if you're watching me, that's just weird," he said, and suddenly it was the most logical thing in the world. Oddly enough, at first this seemed a little immature to Greg, which made him remember how young Miguel really was. He was pretty much a junior gang member, who probably saw too much or had not handled his first big criminal act very well, and now was in over his head with the police and his gang rivals, but maybe he was handling things better than Greg had given him credit for. He had been smart enough to switch cars, not go to a relative or friends to stay, pay for the room in cash and park out of sight. Not to mention the fact that Greg had no idea what Miguel had been up to while he had been knocked out. He could have stolen yet another car for all he knew, making it even harder for the police to find him, and Greg had to admit, that as good as he knew the Crime Lab was and how hard they would work to find him, Miguel had not left them a lot of clues to follow.
He heard a click that he thought might be the light being turned off and the bed squeak as Miguel laid down. Greg suddenly found himself wracked not with fear, but despair. He knew he was safe for the time being, but he was also trapped, at the mercy of this panicked criminal in training and, most likely, on his own. Though Greg was usually a pretty confident guy, he wasn't sure if he could handle this on his own and the hopelessness of his current situation tore at his heart.
Suddenly he was exhausted. There was finally no imminent danger to his life to worry about and he remembered that he also hadn't slept in almost a day.
Tilting his head back to lean against the wall, he tried to relax. The Tylenol was starting to help against the pain and he knew he could use some rest. When he finally managed to drift off, he prayed that when he woke up he would find that this was all just a horrible dream caused by too many late-night video game sessions.
Searching … please wait.
Searching … please wait.
Searching … please wait.
Nick leaned his head back and sighed, frustrated by the computer's unintentional mockery of his life over the last few hours. Ever since Greg had been taken away in Harcant Nick had done nothing except search, and wait, and now the computer was throwing it back in his face.
One search finished and he opened up the results, dismayed to find the phone number was that of a family owned pizza parlor. No help there.
He typed in the next number and glared at the inevitable message on the screen.
Searching … please wait.
When he had been given this task an hour ago he had at first been enthused just to have a job to do, but he was getting absolutely nowhere and wondered how everyone else was doing.
He remembered when himself, Warrick and Grissom had arrived back at the lab after finding absolutely nothing of use at Miguel's apartment. There had been no black book, no computer of addresses or friends, no post-it notes with scribbled addresses – absolutely nothing to indicate where Miguel might go with Greg. They had returned empty-handed and then had to face the barely composed Catherine and Sara who both demanded tasks to do to help find Greg. The only problem was, they had no leads. They had no known relatives or friends of Miguel or Carlos Sanchez, neither of them owned a credit card to track down and though Carlos had a phone, it did not have tracking abilities. Their options were limited to the phone records that had finally arrived per Archie's request several hours earlier. Nick and Warrick had split up all the calls made and received on Carlos's cell phone in the last month while Catherine and Sara had split up the list from Miguel's home phone. Grissom had left himself free to look into any new leads that would hopefully show up soon and the rest of the team had set to work, inputting phone numbers into the system and seeing who they belonged to, then checking if they could have any relevance to the case.
So far Nick had been working an hour and had found nothing, and the complete lack of his pager beeping told him that the rest of the team had also found nothing of relevance and they were no closer to finding Greg. Nick looked at his watch. Five hours. Greg had been gone for five hours and it was as if he and Miguel Sanchez had just dropped off the planet.
Nick always hated when cases hit a dead end, but he was finding it almost impossible to bear the idea of waiting this one out and hoping the big lead would just come to them. Because waiting usually led to finding a body in the desert. The image of Greg buried in the sand, lifeless eyes staring up at him came unbidden to Nick's mind and he rubbed the image out of his corneas.
Work. He wasn't done his work. He just had to focus and hope one of these last few numbers would give them the break they need and lead them to some sort of name or address that would send them in the direction of finding Greg, alive.
Nick typed two more numbers into the search engine but then paused halfway through typing the last one. The number was familiar.
He swore under his breath as he got up from his chair to go find Grissom.
List clutched in his hand, he shook his head as he looked down once more at the last phone call that Carlos Sanchez's cell phone had received.
It was from Greg's cell phone number.
Okay, so here's the story, or should I say, here's all the story you're getting for awhile. The reason I haven't been updating very frequently is that this story has kind of stopped inspiring me and I've been finding it very difficult to force myself to work on it, so I'm most likely going to put it aside completely very shortly. If I keep going it just won't be my best work and I can't handle that. I'm not saying the story will never be completed, but I've started a different CSI fic that I haven't posted yet and I like it a lot, so after I finish that one, I may come back to this. It's also possible I could work on both at the same time, but unlikely. My brain can only take so much.
So, I'm truly sorry to my faithful readers, I love you all, but I'll probably need awhile to get in a strong enough writing mood to finish this up. So sorry again. But it will be finished someday, hold on to that, and look out for my new fic, tentatively called Moving In and Moving On.
Take care, Goody.