Disclaimer: So very not mine. Just taking them on one helluva journey.
Rating/Pairing/Spoilering/etc.: Teen, GSR, no spoilers. AU (but is it?). Definitely pushing OOC in the AU realm.
Props: To Cybrokat and Jennie, for being wonderful betas. To Cincoflex, dreamsofhim, and all you other wonderful people on my LJ who helped me and provided wonderful feedback and concrit. You know who you are. Much thanks and appreciation from me to you.

A/N: So, this fic is just plain different. The majority of this takes places in the Old West, in the town of Nelson, NV, which exists today as a ghost town. How the reality of this works is a little fuzzy, which is my intent. Is it real? Is it a dream? Who knows, but it's a story.

The mid-day heat beats down on the small collection of people standing idle near aged buildings and Nevada state vehicles. Sweat tinged with impatience is hovering in the still and dusty air.

All eyes focus as yet another vehicle bounces its way towards them. It is David, the assistant coroner, and he's a half-hour late.

Captain Jim Brass doesn't say one word as he approaches the van. Looks are exchanged, and David is silent as he joins the procession of officers and CSIs. They cross the crime scene tape, heading into the gaping maw of the abandoned mine. Such mines are common in the lower parts of Clark County, especially near the Colorado River and Lake Mohave. This particular mine is a tourist attraction, which may be why it was chosen as a dump site for their 419.

Claustrophobia isn't a question, it's a given as they travel further along the internal passages. David stays close to Gil Grissom, who seems the most at ease with his surroundings. His associate, Sara Sidle, is much less comfortable, but she's hiding her apprehension well. Jim Brass is with Detective Vartann, the two conversing quietly with each other as they maneuver through tight passageways and duck around low ceilings. Their leader and guide is the owner of the touring company. His daughter and the senior citizens group who took today's mid-morning tour most certainly had an experience they'll never forget.

It is cooler in the belly of the mine, but the dampness keeps the sweat beading on each and every forehead. The smell of human decomposition is present as well. After a few more turns, the dead woman's body is revealed.

David quickly gets to work with his diagnostics and declarations. He and Vartann then allow the two CSIs to perform their preliminaries while they ready the body bag. Brass begins his interrogation of the owner. After Grissom gives his typical nod of dismissal, David and Vartann spend the next fifteen minutes hauling the body bag topside. It isn't until the body is loaded into the van and David is seated and ready to depart that Grissom and Sara return. Brass is with them, speaking earnestly with Grissom, while Sara loads her kit and the collected evidence into the SUV. A vial of something or other finds its way free from the others; it bounces off the bumper of the SUV, rolling past the main road into the scraggly underbrush.

David smiles as Sara utters quite the obscenity. She finishes her work within the SUV quickly. Sporting a frown, she plods along in search of her errant evidence. She's wandering in the wrong direction and only David seems to notice as she treks further and further into the deserted wasteland surrounding them.

A cry from the opposite direction breaks David's focus on the pretty Sara. He turns his head and sees the tour company owner through his van's passenger window. The owner is standing on the porch of his facility, yelling and waving frantically in Sara's direction. Both Grissom and Brass turn their heads, but Sara doesn't seem to hear.

It's then that David turns back towards Sara; she's still hunched over, her head moving from side to side, scanning the dirt and weeds. There's a shift in her movement right before an explosive wave of dust fills the air. David hears Grissom's sharp cry of her name as he himself is opening the van's door and preparing to run towards the dissipating cloud. The combined voices of Grissom, Jim Brass, and the now panicking owner stop him in his tracks.

The owner reaches David first, but the two older men aren't far behind. "That area's unstable," the owner says in a high voice. "There are open shafts and weak spots, air holes covered by debris or uprooted brush. It's off-limits; I should have mentioned it to you earlier. I am so incredibly sorry!"

All four men stand next to the coroner's van as the dust cloud clears and Sara Sidle is nowhere to be seen.