Title: A Cold and Broken Hallelujah
Author's Note: Like the superhero series, in which I was still poked for sequels and prologues and prequels and just more in general. There will be no sequel. There will be no prequel. End of discussion. grins don't worry guys, I still love you.
CSI Level One Greg Sanders stared down at the body that was currently resting on gurney, half in, half out of the body bag. He took in the ragged hole in the front of the man's head and grimaced lightly. He stepped past the gurney and into the room, taking note of the blood spatter on the walls and not fighting the urge to wrinkle his nose as he saw the brain matter splattered across the back of a chair. He took a deep breath, glanced over at Nick Stokes, who shot him a reassuring smile, and began processing.
Four hours later, Greg was bone tired and horribly sick of brain matter scrapings. Between himself and Nick, they had gone over every inch of Bellagio hotel room 1702. Nick pushed himself to his feet, wincing as his knees protested. Greg followed suit, arching his back and sighing in satisfaction as the vertebrae popped back into place. The two CSI's gathered their kits. Nick walked out the room, heading down the hall.
"I'll meet you at the car, Greggo, I gotta call Griss and let him know we're on our way back," Nick called over his shoulder.
"OK, see you down there," Greg called back.
Walking towards the door himself, Greg paused for a moment. He turned back to the room, sweeping a critical eye over it, eyes finally coming to rest on the bullet hole in the wall. The bullet hole that was surrounded by the pink mist. A fine spray of blood and brain matter. Greg scowled at it, his nose wrinkling in disgust, his eyes cold.
"The sniper rifle would've been far less messy," he murmured clinically to the room at large, before spinning on his heel and heading down to the car.
Azrael. Angel of Death. The slender, brown eyed man rested almost languidly on the rooftop, perfectly still, staring through his sniper scope at the people rushing up and down the Strip outside the Bellagio's doors. A frown creased his forehead. His mark was three hours overdue. But he would still wait. Azrael's frown grew deeper as something on the edge of his scope caught his eye. He shifted carefully, blonde head pulling back from the scope and tilting in annoyed confusion. Readjusting his scope, he settled back down. His frown turned into a scowl. He snarled softly. Goddamn!
Azrael was normal once. And Greg Sanders wasn't always named after a vengeful death angel. Although, there are many people who will debate whether Greg was ever normal. But once upon a time, he was. He had a life, friends, a family. He'd even had a lover. He was happy. But then it all went to hell in a hand basket. Azrael scowled, hefting the sniper rifle onto his shoulder as he rolled gracefully to a crouch under the eaves of the roof of the Vegas casino. Just like this job was going to hell in a hand basket. Damn, lousy intel.
He grinned viciously. So many people underestimated him. The young, baby-faced lab technician turned CSI. So innocent looking. His eyes turned cold. But that was only part of who he was. He expertly dismantled the rifle, sliding it back into the rucksack he'd brought with him. The vicious grin faded and was replaced by a scowl. His intel was wrong. His mark wasn't outside the Bellagio. He was a guest in the Bellagio. Azrael growled slightly. He'd be having words with his source after this job.
Scooping his rucksack up, Azrael calmly and carefully swept the area, checking for any trace evidence he may have left behind. He may be new at the CSI gig, but he was a pro at the assassin gig. Finding nothing, Azrael moved off the roof. He stepped into the building's lobby, shooting a friendly smile at an elderly woman and holding the door open, allowing her to exit first. Moving out onto the Strip, rucksack slung casually over one shoulder, Azrael looked just like one of a million young men who lived, worked or played in Vegas.
Azrael wandered half a block down the Strip, moving into a small diner and ordering a bottle of water. He sat down in a booth that gave him a clear view of the Bellagio and frowned. This was not good. He hated it when his plans changed. They were always such good plans. Taking a sip of his water, Azrael sighed. He glanced over at the Bellagio again. He was going to have to go in. And that meant calling his source. Well, calling his source and not tearing him a new one for giving him the wrong intel in the first place. Azrael pulled out his phone and dialed a long familiar number.
"Hello?" came a hesitant voice on the other end.
"Hi mom! How are you?" Azrael said cheerfully.
"Oh shit… Azrael?"
"Yeah… I know you told me to ring as soon as I got to Vegas, but my plane was three hours late."
"Three hours? Oh shit… you sat on the roof for three extra hours? He was in the Bellagio not outside it," the voice on the other end started to sound decidedly uneasy.
"Uh-huh… aw come on, mom, how was I supposed to know that?"
"I know, I know… I only found out a few hours ago, myself. But…"
"No buts, mom… I'm not bringing home an Elvis suit. End of story," Azrael rolled his eyes and grinned at the waitress, who giggled and grinned back.
"Oh shit…" the voice on the other end sounded positively terrified now, "What... what if I give you his room number… in the Bellagio I mean?"
"Really? Uncle Pete's in town? Have you got his number? Oh, that'd be great. Gimme the number and I'll make sure I pay him a visit," Azrael's voice never lost its cheery tone.
"Yeah, yeah… he's in room 1702, entry code to override is 99279."
Azrael made a show of writing a number down on a napkin, "OK, got it. Thanks, mom. Love you too. Bye."
Azrael got up from his booth, grabbing his rucksack, making sure to leave a tip for the waitress. He wandered out of the diner, pausing to look around, before crossing the street and heading over to the Bellagio. He pushed open the double doors, weaving his way expertly through the busy lobby and pushing the button for the elevator. 1702. Override code 99279. He walked out of the elevator and down the hall, stopping outside 1702 and surreptitiously pulling on a pair of latex gloves. Wouldn't do to leave prints.
Azrael didn't bother to glance up and down the hall before easing the panel off the door. That was such a Bond movie cliché. If anyone was coming, he would've heard them a long time ago. He quickly tapped in the override code, a small smile of satisfaction lighting up his face as the light on the door handle blinked green. He reattached the panel and let himself in, raising an eyebrow as he heard the shower running. Azrael glanced around the room. Nice room, big bed, excellent view of the Strip. He shrugged. Ah well. He dropped his rucksack by the door, crouching down to pull his 9mm and its silencer out of the side pocket.
He moved gracefully through the room, not touching or even brushing up against any furniture or walls, fitting the silencer as he walked. Azrael paused in the middle of the room to take the safety off and pull back the slide on his gun. He may be an assassin but he didn't believe in fear. His marks deserved their deaths, but no-one deserved to die terrified and in pain. He frowned; this was why he liked his sniper rifle. He waited silently on the other side of the bathroom door.
Hearing the shower stop, Azrael took a deep breath, calming himself for the shot. He brought his 9mm up, sighting down the barrel. The bathroom door opened. His mark walked out, towel wrapped around his waist, his back to Azrael. The mark walked into the main bedroom, not seeing the figure behind the door. Azrael took another deep breath to steady himself and pulled the trigger. He couldn't hold back the flinch as the mark's head snapped forward, blood and gore spraying across the walls and furniture.
Azrael didn't bother checking the man's pulse. When one can see daylight through a man's forehead, one knows said man is dead. Azrael moved through the room again, unscrewing the silencer, taking special care not to step in any of the blood. Footprints were just as useful as fingerprints to a CSI. He slid his 9mm and the silencer back into the side pocket, peeling off his gloves and stuffing those in there too, before picking up his rucksack and calmly walking back out of the room and down the hall.
Walking easily out onto the Strip, Azrael smiled contentedly to himself. He could go home now. He wandered down the brightly lit avenue of casinos, heading towards his car, a little blue Lexus parked five blocks from the Bellagio. He hit the central locking on his car, tossed the rucksack on the floor by the passenger seat and pulled out onto the Strip. He turned on the radio, tapping his hands absently on the steering wheel as he weaved in and out of the traffic. He pulled into his driveway, hauling his rucksack out of the car with him.
Sliding his key into the lock, Greg let himself into his apartment, closing and locking the door behind him. Opening his closet, he slid out the back panel and shoved the rucksack with his sniper rifle and 9mm into the crawl space, making sure he pulled the used latex gloves out first. Greg wandered into his kitchen and stuffed the gloves into his garbage disposal unit, effectively hiding all traces of Azrael the Death Angel.
Greg glanced at the clock and sighed. Two hours before work. Damn intel. Now he wouldn't even get a nap. He moved from the kitchen into the bathroom, stripping down as he went, before ducking into the shower. He stood under the hot spray, giving voice to a wide yawn. Stepping out of the shower, Greg was hit by a sudden feeling of unease. This was exactly what had happened to the mark… Greg shifted uncomfortably, wrapping a towel around his waist. He moved back to the bathroom door. He stood next to it, before moving with lightning fast reflexes, kicking the door open on its hinges.
Nothing happened. Greg let out a soft laugh, embarrassed with himself. He wandered into his bedroom, pulling on his work clothes, before going back to the bathroom door and checking he hadn't damaged it. Nope, all good. He went back into the bathroom, leaving the door open, and did his hair. Wandering back out, Greg grabbed his wallet, keys and cell phone, before heading out to his car and beginning the drive to work.
Greg walked into the breakroom, pausing at the coffee machine, before dropping down into a chair with a wide yawn. He stretched his arms up over his head, yawning again. He grinned and gave first Warrick Brown, then Nick Stokes a wave as the African-American and the Texan wandered into the breakroom. He yawned again as the two men dropped into chairs at the table with him.
"Big day, Greggo?" Nick teased.
Greg smirked, "Something like that, yeah."
He was saved from having to answer further as Sara Sidle and Catherine Willows wandered into the breakroom, followed soon after by Gil Grissom, who was absently going through the assignment slips. Grissom paused just inside the doorway, still reading through the slips, while Catherine and Sara made their way over to the coffee machine and dropped into chairs alongside the other CSI's.
Grissom looked over his glasses at his team, "Sara, solo in Loughlin, home invasion and assault. Warrick, solo in North Las Vegas, homicide. Catherine, you're with me. Nick and Greg, you have a homicide in the Bellagio."
All the CSI's stood up, collecting their assignment slips as they walked out the door past Grissom. Greg desperately fought the urge to wince, trying hard to keep his face from paling. In all the years he'd worked for the crime lab, he'd never had to work one of his own scenes before. Oh boy… this was gonna be fun.
Greg walked out to the Tahoe with Nick, grabbing his kit on the way. He kept up a steady stream of chatter all the way to the Bellagio. Nick answered with tolerant good-humor, occasionally shaking his head and throwing in a 'shut up, Greggo', to which Greg would just grin and change the subject.
Moving through the Bellagio, the two CSI's flashed their badges, ducking under the crime scene tape that cut off the majority of the hallway. Greg paused at the elevator. Nick carried on down the hall, not noticing that Greg wasn't with him until he turned to ask him a question and found the newest CSI still outside the elevator doors. Nick frowned slightly.
"Hmm?" Greg glanced up at him, "Oh, just thinking… it's probably a waste of time printing the elevator button, isn't it?"
"Yeah, considerin' there are ninety-five rooms on this floor alone," the Texan sighed, "I'd only print that as a last resort."
Greg shot him a rueful grin, "You're forgetting who was once a lab-rat," he pointed to himself, then to Nick, then to the elevator button, "I think Jackie would make even you wear the turban if you brought her prints from that."
Nick winced, fighting back a smile of his own, "She wouldn't, would she?"
Greg raised an eyebrow, "Its Jackie," he replied simply, before carrying on up the hall to Nick.
Nick grimaced, shaking his head as he moved into the room. Greg moved in after him, stepping to the side to let Dave, the coroner's assistant pass him. Greg watched as both Nick and Dave blanched at the sight of the body. He turned away as Nick looked back at him, checking to see if he was OK. Nick moved back beside Greg, letting the coroner's assistant do his thing.
"Single gun shot wound to the head," Dave began clinically, "Looks like it entered through the parietal lobe and exited through the frontal lobe."
"So… he died instantly?" Greg asked uncertainly, wanting to be convinced his mark hadn't felt either pain or fear.
Dave nodded, "Chances are, he never even knew what hit him," before turning back to the body.
Azrael tilted his head, watching the coroner's assistant work. His mark hadn't suffered. Hadn't even known what hit him. Greg breathed a sigh of relief that he knew would be mistaken for a sigh of resignation by both Nick and Dave. He picked up his kit, and headed back to the door so that Dave could get the body out of the room. Even if it meant working one of his own scenes, it was still one less demon Las Vegas had to deal with.