Title: Don't Shoot Me; I'm Only the Piano Player
Rating: T (rating may change)
Summary: Grissom told Sara to get a diversion. One member of the night shift soon discovers she is a performer at one of the Vegas Strip night clubs. But...is her partner a bit... too-friendly?
Disclaimer: I own nothing but my original characters! I don't own CSI: or the song Always On Your Side by Sheryl Crow. I also don't own the rights to the title of this story, as that is the title of an Elton John album.
Author's Notes: This is a story I'm very excited to write! I was very ecstatic when this idea came to me, so I'm hoping I can do a good job with this story! This is going to be another Warrick/Sara fic. I hope you guys enjoy it! By the way, this fic takes place after Too Tough to Die :) Warrick will most-likely appear in the next chapter.
"Sara... do you have any diversions...?"
He said to get a diversion, but those words were foreign to Sara Sidle's ears. She actually wasn't sure those words had ever been directed at her before in her life. Diversion... what did that word even mean? Something outside of work, outside of law enforcement, Grissom had said. What else did Sara have besides her work? Her work was her diversion, her escape- her work was her release... her work was her life. Doing anything else, or slowing down in her work was absolutely terrifying to her…
…Which was perhaps the main reason she needed a diversion.
Sara had never really ever explored her creative of 'fun' side; she never had time to. Sara was not a mother like Catherine, so she didn't have a child waiting for her to come home every night and tuck them into bed. She wasn't Grissom, and so she didn't get an adrenaline rush from riding roller coasters. Sara was not like Warrick, so she didn't like going to casinos to play the slots or a few card games to help take the edge off. And she definitely was not like Greg or Nick, so she didn't find playing Playstation or Gamecube all that appealing.
So what did Sara like? Grissom made it sound like that would be a good place to start. Sara liked lots of things- she liked helping people and the feeling she got when the bad guys were put away, she liked listening to her scanner when she went home every night to catch up on what was going on, and she liked reading crime novels to see what was and what was not accurate. But outside of law enforcement and work? Well, Sara wasn't so sure about that. She was really going to have to think about that one.
Things Sara liked to do that didn't have to do with work... that was a tough question. She liked to sing... but that was more of a habit than a hobby. Besides, she didn't think she was that good anyways, let alone good enough for her voice to take her anywhere. But...singing was the only thing Sara could really think of for something she liked to do outside of work and law enforcement; it certainly did help to take the edge off of a hard day at work. Some notes were harder to hit than others, others easier. The sounds varied from soft to loud, peaceful to powerful in just moments, and she liked that. It was a good way to relieve stress- if she was in a bad mood- perhaps she was angry- she would sing a song that required a large amount of vocal.
Sara sighed to herself, running a hand through her hair as she sat in the front seat of her car in the parking lot at the lab. She still thought her voice was like nails on a chalkboard- perhaps even worse-, but...it was the only thing she could think of. Grissom said if she didn't find something to like... she was going to burn-out, and that alone was motivation to find a hobby or something to be interested in. If she burned-out... then what would she do, where would she go? What would she do as a release to escape herself? She figured she'd barely be able to function properly in the world anymore. She'd be useless... and Sara didn't like feeling useless. She liked feeling needed.
So she was going to take this chance and try to do something with her singing. She could just sing along to songs in the car or at home as she always did, she thought, but… that wouldn't really be a diversion, would it? At home she had her scanner, pager and cell phone… not to mention the almost endless collection of forensic textbooks and crime novels she kept in her bookcase. Maybe she could find a club or bar somewhere on the Strip looking for performers and audition there. She didn't want to run the risk of humiliating herself in front of a bunch of people, but… she didn't want to burn out. So she was going to take this risk, whether she wanted to or not.
A part of Sara actually wondered if she was going to get this diversion just so she could look at Grissom and say, "I told you so!" She wondered if she was going to get this diversion just so she could prove to him that she wasn't just the boring workaholic that ordered from catalogues to give herself something to look forward to- that she had a life outside of her work. Despite her reasons, Sara had her mind set on this now and she wasn't going to stop until she found what she was looking for. To Sara now if were if she were searching for the lost treasure of Atlantis.
Putting the car in park, Sara pulled out into the street and began to cruise down the Strip, looking around for any signs or flyers in windows or telephone poles. She saw something for a wrestling match… no, she wasn't built for wrestling and that wasn't what she was looking for anyways. Driving along, Sara continued to keep her eyes peeled. The Tangiers was looking for a dancer… no, she wasn't a dancer- that would be a job for Catherine since she had experience in that field. There was a poker tournament… a park picnic coming up (Sara wondered if Vegas actually had parks), and then an ad for a restaurant that just opened up.
Sara's search was coming up empty. But she had to keep looking! She had to keep trying; she wasn't going to stop now- she couldn't. Shift ended early that night so she had plenty of time, and she didn't want to go get something to eat because if she did she wouldn't be able to enjoy it with this burden hanging over her shoulders.
You've got to keep trying, Sara kept telling herself. Keep looking; you don't want to end up working at a McDonald's for the rest of your life because you burned out, do you? The thought of serving people cold patties that had been sitting on the grill for hours before they ordered it made her cringe; the smell of French fry oil was making her shudder. She had to keep looking.
While day-dreaming about the horrors of working at a fast-food restaurant chain, Sara failed to notice where she was going, or if any bystanders were in front of her for that matter. Driving along she immediately stopped when someone screamed at her.
"Hey! I'm walking here! Watch where you're going, you idiot!" a man- a rather horrible-looking man with five o'clock (actually more like ten o'clock…) shadow and messy oily hair- said, slamming his palms on the hood of her car. That got Sara's attention and she waited to make sure he made it across the street before she started moving again.
Smooth, she thought to herself. Almost hitting a bystander because she wasn't paying attention to where she was going in her haste to find a diversion told her she was desperate.
But then Sara saw something… that man who she almost hit had been a gift from god. Just as she stopped she saw a paper on one of the telephone poles with an ad for one of the night clubs on the Strip. Sara reached over the passenger's seat and tore it off the pole in order to reach it before she got back on the road and pulled over to read it.
The club was called Midnight. Sara had heard of it, but she wasn't one to go around to Vegas clubs and bars on her nights off so she had never actually known anything about it, other than that it opened a few years ago. If it was still open that meant that it was probably getting pretty good business. Looking down at the paper, Sara reached into the glove compartment and took out her mini mag-lite- something she always kept in her car incase of emergency- to better read the paper in the dark of the night.
Wanted: Performers for Midnight Night Club
Sara felt the butterflies fluttering around in her stomach again- this could be it.
Must be at least 18 years of age to apply.
That wasn't going to be a problem for Sara.
Will hire: Dancers, stand-up comics, magicians, singers…
That was all Sara needed to see- if she could make the cut for this place she would have her diversion.
Looking down at herself, she frowned- brown slacks, mahogany sweatshirt, flat shoes. She didn't exactly look the part that was for sure. She had just gotten off shift not too long ago, so she didn't stop at her apartment to change clothes or get all dolled-up. She didn't really think it would matter, though, because it was just an audition, after all… if some crazy person inside that building actually liked her voice she didn't think what she looked like was going to matter much to anyone. She didn't really have anything all that dressy anyways, so she decided just to go as she was and get it over with.
Putting the car back in drive, Sara pulled back out and headed off to the club.
The Midnight Night Club had been a regular destination for drifters, tourists, and Vegas residents for almost five years now. It was open from midnight to five in the morning- hence the name- seven days a week. The outside of the building left a lot to be desired- the building looked old and run-down; the stucco was beginning to get an ugly grey color to it with tarnished the light orange color the place was supposed to be. It had a large sign over the door that clashed with the orange stucco of the building with navy blue neon lights that flashed that read 'Midnight' in large writing, and underneath 'Night Club'.
Sara pulled up in front of the building, looking at the clock- it was about 12:45 now, so the place was open, she knew by looking at the hours of business sign outside right next to the 'no loitering' sign probably purchased at a hardware or drug store. Pulling down her visor above her, Sara looked at herself in the mirror one last time, smoothing down stray strands of rebelling hair. Reaching behind her seat, she grabbed her bag and looked around- a few make-up touch-ups wouldn't do much harm, would they?
Sara never went overboard with her make-up, so she kept only a small quantity on her person for small touch-ups. Usually she only wore a dash of lip-gloss and some eye shadow and she was done, so that made it easy to find when she actually chose to do touch-ups. Looking at herself in the mirror, Sara quickly applied a color of eye shadow she felt drew attention to her eyes (if they were drawn to her eyes, they wouldn't really be staring at the rest of her body which was what she was aiming for), and put on a light color of lip-gloss before putting everything away and putting the visor up.
Unlocking her door, Sara stepped out and closed the door, locking the car up. Smoothing out the sides of her sweater, she took a deep breath, looking down at her feet. She felt so nervous, like she did the first time she went in for a job interview. But she shouldn't feel nervous, she thought, because that would make her audition mean nothing if she was nervously fidgeting or rambling whilst she were doing it. She had to be smooth, confident- that meant no insistent hair-flipping, no nervous biting of the nails, and no playing with loose threads on her clothing. She had to be perfect and straight-forward; the way she was with murder suspects in the interrogation room.
Composing herself, Sara put both arms to her sides as she approached the building. Pushing the door open with her elbow, she was surprised at what she discovered in the building. For a night club on the Strip she was expecting strippers and loud music blaring through the speakers. This place actually looked rather nice- the flooring was a nice deep red color; the carpet almost looked like velvet. The walls were a nice calming cream color and they were covered in photographs of the Strip and various performers. To her left was an oak-finished bar with about ten stools pulled up, four of which were occupied by customers. The bartender looked like a fairly decent person, too, and to her surprise greeted her with a kind smile.
"Welcome to the Midnight, Miss," he told her, currently drying a glass with a white towel. "Can I get you something to drink- Bacardi and coke, or maybe a cold beer, perhaps?"
As appetizing as that sounded, Sara had a job, no a mission, to accomplish. "No thanks," she told the man, reluctantly turning down his offer. "I'm looking for the owner, actually," she said, reaching into her pocket for the flyer she had gotten off of the telephone pole. "I was interested in auditioning here to be a performer," she explained, showing him the flyer.
The bartender smiled, nodding down at the paper in understanding. "I'll get him for you, please have a seat while you wait and make yourself comfortable," he told her, motioning toward one of the barstools as he walked out from behind the bar Sara thought he probably spent most of his hours behind and headed toward the back of the building.
Sara nodded and sat down as he suggested, taking another look around the building; signs for Budlight, Corona, Samuel Adams, Heineken and other imported beers. The bar area looked rather nice with the arrangement they had chosen, however, and it didn't look like a sloppy bar where drunks came to wash their worries away beer after beer.
In moments the bartender was walking back toward the bar with a man trailing behind him who Sara assumed to be the owner and manager of the building. He was an older-looking man with graying hair and round glasses that rested on the bridge of his nose. Sara didn't think he looked like someone who would own a night club on the Vegas Strip, but then again she thought maybe he was the reason this place looked so nice and decent inside. She figured that a younger manager would've made this place into a regular strip club just like anywhere else.
"Yes… how can I help you, Miss?" the older man asked, taking off his glasses to wipe them off with his shirt.
"Hi…" Sara said, getting off of the stool, suddenly feeling much more nervous than she previously had. "My name's Sara Sidle, I'm here about the auditions for performers?" she said, handing him the flyer she had showed to the bartender.
The man looked like he had never seen the flyer before in his life, which struck Sara as odd seeing how he was the manager after all. He squinted at it and held it closer to his face to try and read it. "Auditions, eh?" he asked.
"Yes, Sir," Sara replied.
"Oh! That's what he was talking about!" the old man said. Sara raised a brow in curiosity. "I may be the manager, honey, but I'm not the manager of our performers and entertainment," he told her, handing her back the flyer. "That's Trey's job, he's in charge of all that stuff," he explained.
"Where can I find Trey?" Sara asked, beginning to get impatient. Old age or not, this guy wasn't giving her the information he should know to give her.
"Someone said my name?" Sara turned around to see a man about her age, if not a little older or younger. He had clean-cut dark brown hair and dark, glistening green eyes. He was clean-shaven and the first few buttons were undone on his shirt, revealing his hairless chest. He had a nice building and Sara could see his muscles through his clothes. She almost focused on his body more than the possibility that this man could be the person she was looking for. "How can I help you?" he then asked, looking at Sara.
"…Trey?" Sara asked, mentally cursing as the old man hadn't given her his last name. She felt it was rude that she barely knew the man and she was calling him by his first name, it was like a student calling their teacher by their first name.
"Yeah," he said with a smile. "Trey Wolfe," he said. "And you are…?"
"Sara," she immediately replied. Shaking her head, she said, "I, I, mean… my name's Sara Sidle- First name Sara, last name Sidle."
"Well, okay First Name Sara, Last Name Sidle," he said with a grin. "How can I help you?"
"I, uh…" Sara stuttered- so much for not being nervous. "Uh…"
"She saw one of them… dern flyers you put up," the old man butted in. "Son, you've gotta tell me when you put them stuff up. Customers 'er confusin' me."
"Sure," Trey said, looking over at the older man. "Sara…" he then said, turning to look at her. "Why don't we go somewhere a little quieter? My office is just in the back," he said, motioning toward the back of the building with his thumb.
"Sure," Sara said, nodding a little as she allowed him to lead her toward the back. Thank god he got me away from that old man; I was beginning to think about punching him in the face.
"Have a seat," Trey said once they were in his office. It was a rather large room with more pictures of performers- probably the ones he recommended and/or hired- framed on his walls and desk. Sara nodded and took a seat in one of the red leather chairs across from him. "So Sara…" he said, leaning back in his chair. "You're here to audition."
Sara nodded. "I saw the flyer and thought I'd give it a shot."
Trey just nodded, looking at her for a minute. Sara didn't exactly know what he was looking for in his gaze, but he stared at her for some time, remaining absolutely silent. She hated silence like this; this was usually the time in the job interview where the man would say 'We'll keep in touch', which really meant 'You just screwed this up big time'. "You're really pretty, you know that?" he asked.
Sara laughed a little, taken aback as it was the last thing she was expecting him to say to her. "Thanks…" she said, trying to hide the redness that was flushing her cheeks.
He just nodded, biting a pen in his mouth as he thought. "So what do you want to do here as a performer? Dance, sing?" he asked.
"Sing, actually," Sara told him. "I don't know if I'm much of a singer, but…"
"Nonsense," he told her, shaking his head in disbelief. "Sing something. Come on, right now, sing something."
"Oh, I…" Sara immediately felt her stomach drop. She knew she was going to have to sing eventually, but…
"Come on, don't be shy," he told her. "I'm sure you have a beautiful voice. I can even put the radio on and you can sing along," he told her, reaching over and flipping a switch on his radio, turning the volume knob. "Ah, Sheryl Crow," he said, listening to the song fill the room through the speakers. "Anyone can sing along to Sheryl Crow. Go ahead and try," he told her, motioning with his hand for her to start.
This is it, Sara, you can do this, Sara told herself. It wasn't like she had never sung along to Sheryl Crow before; this was going to be easy! And actually, she had sung along to this very song. Go for it.
"My yesterdays are all boxed up and neatly put away…" Sara sang along to the first verse. "But every now and then you come to mind…
'Cause you were always waiting to be picked to play the game
But when your name was called, you found a place to hide
When you knew that I was always on your side…"
"Stop right there," Trey said.
Oh shit, you blew it, Sara! She told herself, starting to panic. Let me do another song! I…I had something in my throat! That's what it was! That's not my real singing voice!
Trey looked over at her, his face hard to read. Sara could normally read what people were thinking or feeling by the look in their eyes, but at the moment she could not do so. "…That was…" Trey started.
Horrible, I know! Dreadful, nails on a chalkboard, torture—
"Amazing," he finished.
Embarrassing—wait… what? Sara thought, blinking. "…What?"
"That was absolutely amazing," he told her, shooting her a smile. "I think you'll fit in just fine."
"…I…you…really?" Sara asked in disbelief.
"Of course!" Trey said. "And coincidentally I'm not only the manager of this stuff… I'm the musician," he grinned. "I play the piano, so you'll be up on stage with me," he told her. "I hope you don't mind that too, too much," he smiled.
"I… of course not!" Sara said. "I'd… be honored…"
"Good," he smiled, "Then you're hired! When is it convenient for you to come in?"
"Well…" Sara said. "I work the night shift…so…" she thought aloud. "Maybe… Friday nights?" she asked. "I can come in whenever." I have enough personal time.
"Sure, that would be wonderful," he told her. "So let me show you around a little and help you get used to the place," he said, getting up from his seat and walking over to the door. Sara got up, silently cheering in victory as he led her out the door. "So…" he said, walking down a long hallway made by a long red velvety curtain hanging from the ceiling. "This is the stage," he told her, walking up a few steps. "Come on up!" he encouraged her.
Sara nodded slowly and made her way up the stairs, stopping right next to him. "It's so… big," Sara said, unable to think of anything else to use to describe it.
"Isn't it, though?" he asked, walking over to one of the sides of the stage and pulling on a gold-colored tassel. Slowly the curtains parted to reveal rows of tables and chairs for the audience, which, at this time, was not present. "You're going to be up here," he told her, walking over to her.
"…Wow," Sara said, still not really believing her eyes. The building looked so… small from the outside!
"Yeah, it really is something," he sighed, slowly moving closer to her. "You'll have to wear something a little more… stage-worthy, of course," he smiled.
Sara laughed. "I just wore these from work."
"So I gathered," he smiled, "But you have such a nice body…" he mused, putting both of his hands on her shoulders. "You're so tall, and you have such nice legs… wouldn't you like to show them off?" he asked, his hands slowly moving downwards, traveling down her arms. "A dress, perhaps, that showed off your arms…" he suggested.
Sara was now starting to feel uncomfortable. She didn't exactly like where this guy's hands were going… but maybe he was just trying to help? If he was trying to help, he wasn't. Sara didn't like getting touched. She almost let out a squeak at what he did next.
"And your stomach is so flat," he told her, wrapping his arms around her stomach and slowly drawing her toward him. "You wouldn't have to worry about weight, that's not an issue for you…" he mumbled, his hands slowly traveling up…
"Y-You know what, I really need to go," Sara said, quickly breaking out of his grasp. "I… I'm sorry, it's late, I need to go…" she repeated, resisting the urge to shake like a shaggy dog after a bath. "I have work early tomorrow, and… gosh, it's almost 3:00 am!" Sara said, laughing weakly as she peeked at her watch on her wrist.
"Okay," he shrugged. "I'll see you on Friday!"
"…Right! Friday…" Sara said. "…Goodbye!" she added, almost running off of the stage toward the door of the building. She didn't care about anything or anyone else at that moment, she wanted… something. A shower, to get rained on, heck she would've even settled for being splashed by a taxi!
"Congratulations," the bartender said as she made her way to the door. "I suppose I'll be seeing more of you!"
"…Yeah!" Sara said. "Uh… goodnight!"
"Goodnight!" the bartender said, but Sara was already out of the building.
Sara ran to her car, wrapping her arms tightly around herself, rubbing her arms with her hands as if to warm herself up.
Don't shoot him, Sara, she told herself, he's only the piano player.