, I really have no idea where it came from. It was written in the middle of a 12hr black out with the help of battery-powered Christmas lights, so blame that? Also, I realise this is seriously unhygenic to eat in the Morgue, but just ignore that for the purpose of this? Thanks x P.S. Not for the squeamish ;)

Written for the MiamiFicTalk Challenge, #09 - Taste.

The morgue wasn't really a loud place. Other than Alexx and the visiting professionals, there wasn't reason to talk, and if there was you always felt like you ought to whisper.

This time, Alexx was joined by Calleigh chatting over a body. They were both waiting for Natalia's arrival for her first autopsy. As much as it shouldn't, Autopsy-virgins always brought out the…creative streak in people.

Alexx's reputation for conversing with her patients preceded her. She and Natalia had talked a couple of times, but nothing of major significance. Cold Case DNA Analysts and Medical Examiners rarely met acquaintance. Since becoming a CSI, however, scare stories and tall-tales had been emerging from the men of the group - that Alexx once did this with a body, and once did that…

Natalia shrugged it off mainly, seeing it as a hazing ritual of sorts. Yet, she was beginning to question her doubt, purely because the fear and adrenaline were beginning to kick in as she made her way to the morgue.

Seeing Calleigh in the room calmed her somewhat. She'd always been the one to shoo the guys for spreading the stories, reassuring her that although Alexx did have her quirks, everything she did was beneficial to the case and always with respect to the deceased.

Alexx gave a nod to Calleigh as Natalia made her way in. Calleigh straightened her face and turned to the new recruit. "Hey, you ready?"

"As I'll ever be."

"Okay. Alexx?"

"Well, you've already missed the fun part," she said, gesturing to the open chest and breast plate on the side. "We removed the kidney, take a look, what does it tell you?"

Natalia stepped closer to the scales and swallowed as she saw them. She was fine with blood - had to be, with her past - but this was definitely a new experience. Her mind scanned through the text books she'd read for her tests. "It looks…big. Too big?"

"Good call - Cancer." Alexx ran a hand over the patient's hair. "Poor baby. If the gun hadn't have killed you, the cancer would have soon enough."

Natalia watched her, amazed that Alexx talked to them like they could still hear her. She stole her eyes away, feeling like she was intruding on an intimate moment, and spotted a kidney-shaped dish behind the ME near to the other table. "Why's that piece there?"

Alexx grabbed the plate and brought it over to the waiting women. "This is for a different experiment. It's not quite recognised by all doctors, though the board says it's more than fine, and can really produce some beneficial findings."

"What do you do?" she asked, interested.

"Calleigh, do you want to show her?"

"Sure," she smiled and took the plate. She took it to the empty table behind them and set it down. She gloved up and with a scalpel, cut a section off. "Okay, texture is…" she looked closer, "Springy. Riddled with air pockets."

Alexx gave a disheartened sigh at the results.

"Colour is consistent with Cancer of the Kidney," Calleigh carried on. With her gloved hand she picked the sliced section up and brought it to her nose. "Smell is also consistent."

To Natalia's horror, Calleigh put the section in her mouth and was actually chewing. "What the hell?" she asked, stepping back and nearly tripping over her own feet.

Calleigh looked to Alexx, her face as straight as before. "Taste also consistent," she nodded.

"Oh my God, I'm going to throw up…" Natalia's hand clasped at her chest while she swallowed.

"Honey, honey," Alexx said, coming to her side and fighting a grin, "It's sponge cake. It's only sponge cake."


"It's an old trick for Autopsy virgins," she explained.

"Want some?" Calleigh grinned, holding out the dish.

"It's sponge cake?"

"With a lot of food colouring," a voice from above announced. The women looked up to the observation deck to see Eric, Ryan and a bemused Horatio looking down at them.

"You have no idea how much I hate you all right now." Natalia said, her arms folded and her mouth in an embarrassed smirk.

Calleigh and Alexx giggled, asking her if she was ready for the real autopsy and leading her to another table with a patient on. This guy had no Y-incision, so no tricks would happen. Right?