Title: The Kids Are Not Alright

Rating: T

Summary: CSI is called in to investigate an apparent homicide at a high school. But they have two problems: no one's talking, and a kid is dead.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my original characters!

Author's Notes: This idea came to me after I had a quite… disturbing… dream one night. I woke up, and though the dream was graphic and made me tremble just thinking about it… I thought it would make for a very interesting story scenario. Most of the characters in this story were inspired by my dream, and another reason I wanted to write this story was because I wanted to try and show how trapped some kids feel in school (though this is truly blown out of proportion). I hope you guys enjoy it!

Books, paper, pencils, sweat, and that lumpy stuff on your cafeteria lunch tray that was supposedly mashed potatoes. That was what popped into Sara Sidle's mind when school was mentioned. Particularly, Sara was not a big fan of school, and she never had been. She was seen as the over-achiever, something that the teachers adored and the other students resented. To the other students Sara was just another geek, another nerd, another nobody. And that was why Sara hated it as much as she did. It wasn't that she hated the academic part, she loved to learn, but it was the environment she was forced into in order to do so that struck a chord with her.

And so needless to say that Ms. Sidle was not exactly all that thrilled when she was handed the assignment sheet she was. When she had first looked at it, it was nothing exciting or new; four-nineteen. She had worked her fair share of four-nineteens so she knew what to expect. But there were still those cases that made her feel like a kid who was just asked by his parents to clean his room and this case happened to be one of them.

Four-nineteen at the high school near the I-15 interstate. Sara had driven past it enough times but had never really paid that much attention to it. To her it just looked like any other high school; flag pole in front by the office building that wasn't exactly necessary, red-orange brick buildings and windows at the very tops of the sides of the building. The assignment sheet said that a male voice called 9-1-1 and demanded that the police were sent down right away. At first the police thought maybe the body was someone who had been hit in front of the building; it was by the interstate so it wouldn't be a surprise if someone had been hit by a car not looking both ways as they crossed the street. But when the police got there they realized that this was not a hit-and-run or an accidental homicide.

So that was where Sara was called in, after all she was the one with the silver box and shiny little toys. Driving over to the scene, she couldn't help but feel a wave of impending doom fall upon her. She felt like just another science nerd, the way she did when she used to walk to school in the mornings. She half-expected the same ass that used to skate up behind her on his skateboard to appear.

Pulling up to the scene, Sara reluctantly got out of her SUV with a sigh and headed to the trunk to retrieve her kit. After popping the trunk and heaving the large box out of the back, she headed toward the entrance of the building in order to greet Brass inside. Walking down the hallway, she turned her head from side-to-side, noting the various flyers put up for try-outs for choir and the chess club.

Once actually inside the building, Sara definitely knew she was in a school. All schools had that smell to it, and this school was no different. But one smell didn't belong and Sara could figure out what it was right away. It was the familiar metallic copper smell she had come to have fill her nostrils as often as car exhaust did. There was no doubt that something indeed happened.

Walking through the school between the two rows of teal-colored lockers, Sara scrunched up her face. Damn, the smell was so strong! Sara was skilled and surely not new to the world of dead bodies and blood, but… there sure seemed to be a lot of it, and it still managed to sometimes make her stomach turn. She stopped when she spotted the body lying in a pool of what was assumed to be the victim's blood. There was a bloody gash covering the left side of their head and blood stained the victim's orange and white sports jacket. Jock, Sara assumed.

Slowly setting down her kit, Sara reached into her back pocket and retrieved a pair of gloves, slapping them on. As she was about to take a step she looked down just in time to avoid stepping in the ever-growing blood pool. She felt like she was a kid trying not to walk on the lava, having to walk on certain parts of the floor in order to preserve the evidence. Looking down at her watch, Sara noted that the coroner should be there soon, so she opened her kit and got to work on gathering trace from the body without moving it.

Just as she was about to take a sample of blood, Brass and another man walked down the hall in front of her. "Look, I'm just asking if you touched anything," Brass calmly told the man.

"Hell no! With that smell?" the man asked. "I clean the bathrooms, I take out the trash, but I've never smelt anything that bad!"

"Alright, so what can you tell me?" Brass asked, taking out his notepad.

Sara couldn't help but smile a little as she swabbed the puddle of the blood, unobtrusively eavesdropping in the conversation.

The man just sighed. "I was walking down the hallway and…"

"What were you doing here after school hours?" Brass asked. "Obviously you're not a student here," he said with a small smile.

"I told you, I'm the goddamn janitor," the man replied. "See this crap I have on?" he asked him, tugging on his blue scrubs. "I didn't go to no Macy's and pick this up, man. It's uniform."

"Alright, so tell me what happened next," Brass urged him.

"I was going down the hall to take out the trash near the teacher's lounge," he explained. "Last trash bag of the night. It's the furthest away from the dumpster so I try and save it for last."

"What, you… save it to give yourself something to look forward to?" Brass asked. And then with a smile, he clarified, "Last bag, last job, you get to go home?"

"No way, I still had to clean out the urinals, make sure the boss' toe-nail clippings are cleaned off his desk. I wasn't lookin' forward to nothing, man."

"Hey," Brass said, holding his hands up in surrender. "I was just trying to make conversation," he reasoned. "So anyways, what happened next?"

"I was walking down the hallway and one of the lockers flies open; happens all the time, though, so at first I wasn't all that surprised. Not all the kids remember to put their locks on the doors, and so if something falls out the door will fly open, along with whatever other crap they've got filled in there. Y'know, I have to pick their stuff up all the time, I deserve a raise."

"Well, you were the good Samaritan and called 9-1-1," Brass shrugged.

"Damn right I did," the janitor replied. "So instead of some kid's Gameboy or… condoms," he said, making Sara and Brass both shoot a look at each other. "This kid falls out. First I thought it was just another poor sap that had gotten stuffed in the lockers, y'know, but then I saw the blood. As soon as I noticed the kid was dead I called you guys."

"And you didn't touch anything," Brass said.

"No! I've told you, man!" he replied. "How many times do I gotta tell you?"

"Alright, well…" Brass said, squinting to read the name etched on his scrubs with a Sharpie. "Louis, if we have any more questions, can we contact you here?"

"Yeah," Louis said, wiping his mouth off with his hand. "Sure, whatever… am I done now?"

"Not exactly," Sara spoke up. "Sir, we're going to need your clothes."

Louis quickly turned around, looking over at Sara. "What? No, I'm not stripping in front of no cops."

"Either you give us the clothes, or you're going downtown to lock-up, your choice," Brass cheerfully told him.

After the reluctant janitor handed over his clothes, David came and began to examine the body. "Alright, well… just coming out of rigor," he observed, "So I'd say dead less than twenty-four hours. Size of the wound is massive," he told Sara, motioning to the gash on the back of his head. "It looks to be where the most blood came from, but he also has a ton of other injuries and various bruises. We'll know more after autopsy, but right now it's looking like blunt-force trauma," he said.

"From… a fall, maybe?" Sara suggested.

"Look at these," David said, slowly lifting the victim's sleeve up. "Ligature marks. I would say it's a homicide. He was held down or tied up."

Sara frowned, kneeling down and reaching into the victim's blood-stained jean pocket. Finding a black leather wallet, she opened it up in search of an ID. "Kid's a minor," she sighed. "But no surprises there, I suppose," she mused. "His name is Kevin Jameson; school ID, lunch tickets… hall passes," she said, taking out various cards in his wallet. Opening up the little flap inside, she said, "Money's gone."

"So either the kid was broke, or…" David trailed off.

"Or someone took it," Sara said, "Sounds like motive to me."