Live & Off
As Sofia Curtis made her way into the Las Vegas crime lab, a part of her felt a great amount of nostalgia.
The lab had been her home for years, the place where she liked to go and get lost in evidence and questions and puzzle pieces. Life as a CSI had been a great treasure to her, a great joy, and so as she passed through the hallways and looked into rooms, watching as the CSIs quietly processed evidence, DNA samples, fingerprints, she couldn't quite help feeling a pang of regret.
But life as a detective was just as rewarding, she thought quickly, had the added benefit of a better pay, and put her in the middle of the action. As a detective her job was to speak for the victim, find their killers, put them to justice and in the process bring peace of mind to their friends and families. Life as a detective was much more stressful, made her susceptible to dangerous emotional attachments as well as physical harm, but she knew, merely hours into the job, when she was faced with her very first case, that she couldn't turn back.
She turned and smiled at Gil Grissom, who made his way towards her with a file tucked under his armpit. Grissom looked different nowadays, she noted quickly, not quite as dark and lost as he had been when she joined his team. A lot of things had changed since she left the lab. She realized then how much she missed working alongside these people.
"Out for a stroll?"
Sofia showed him the file she carried. "Delgado's off, I got his workload."
"His wife just gave birth," Sofia said as they began to walk through the hall. "Paternity leave."
"Wonders never cease," Grissom said thoughtfully.
Sofia smiled. "I'm taking over the Callahan case."
"Nicky's draw," Grissom said as he veered off towards his office. "Try the fingerprint room."
Sofia nodded a quick thanks and continued her trek, greeting her old colleagues as she went along and keeping an eye open for the elusive CSI. She never had the opportunity to work with Nick Stokes as an investigator, but as a detective it wasn't rare to find herself working alongside the Texan. In fact, Nick seemed to be the one CSI they most assigned to her cases, and considering the great amount of investigators at the lab, she often thought about his presence in her patrol car as more than coincidence or luck.
But she quickly put it on the back of her mind when she realized how relaxed and at ease she found herself when she worked with Nick. They quickly developed an easy camaraderie; he was friendly, courteous and funny. He made her laugh, she liked to tease him. He was the one man who wasn't scared or hesitant to be flirty whenever she got in that mood, something she greatly appreciated. Nick made the job much easier, made her want to look forward to coming to the lab, and though that realization had been a bit perplexing, because she didn't want to go there so soon after Grissom, she knew she was safer with Nick than with any other detective or CSI.
Working with Nick for so long made her think she knew everything about him, but as she opened the door to the fingerprint room she was surprised, nay, shocked, to see him standing in front of a table, carefully examining a fingerprint as his hips swayed from side to side like a pendulum.
Sofia stood there with her mouth opened, agape, knowing she would never witness anything as disturbing as this.
And then he began to sing.
"I'm on tonight, you know my hips don't lie and I'm starting to feel you boy..."
She tried to remain quiet, tried to leave the room and give him a few moments, come back and pretend like she hadn't been witness to this, but the plan lasted a grand total of two nanoseconds before she began to laugh loudly, causing him to jump in place and turn around quickly.
Her hand covered her mouth and she stared at him and laughed, unable to stop.
"I didn't know you were there," Nick said, his skin turned red from embarrassment.
"I really hope so," Sofia replied between laughs.
"It's just—" Nick began lamely before he shook his head and tried to change the subject. "I was just looking into the fingerprints from the Callahan case, Brass told me you're taking over."
Sofia chuckled once more as she looked at him, unable to get the image of a dancing Nick out of his head. Still, she tried to move past it for the sake of work. "Yeah, I, um, I was just on my way to interrogate the mother, I was wondering if—" she said and stopped there, chuckling once more, unable to concentrate on the case. "I didn't—I didn't have you pegged as a Shakira fan."
"I'm not," Nick said quickly and defensively.
Sofia chuckled again. "Lots of guys like her, Nick, you don't have to—"
"I don't like her," Nick said quickly. "Okay? I don't. I just heard that damn song on the radio on my way over and now I can't get it out of my head."
She nodded, looking around the room before she looked at him again. He seemed to be telling the truth, but that didn't stop her from trying to have a little fun with him. "You seem to know all the lyrics, that's the thing—"
Nick sighed. "Can we just—"
"You were singing the girl's part," Sofia said.
"Why were you singing the girl's part?" she asked with another chuckle. "You know there's a part that the guys sing, right?"
"I don't—" Nick huffed quickly and put his hands on his hips. "Is there something that—you wanted?"
Sofia looked down, smiling, and cleared her throat. "I was just on my way to interrogate the mother, I was wondering if you wanted to come along, get her sample and prints."
Nick scratched his head, looking at the half-processed fingerprints on the table. "Yeah, let me just get this ready."
As he began to put everything away Sofia watched him. She could tell he was embarrassed, beyond comprehension, but she knew that if the tables were turned she would never hear the end of it. When Nick teased, he teased endlessly, often at the sake of her sanity. She finally had one on him, finally had the upper hand, and she didn't intend on letting that feeling go.
"You had a little choreography going there," she added.
Nick turned around but finally smiled, looking down and shaking his head as he picked up his kit. "You're not gonna let me live this down, are you?"
"I'm just sad I'm the only one here, that performance was worthy of a big audience."
Nick put his finger in front of her face as they left the room. "Don't you dare."
"Relax, Nick, it's not like I have pictures," Sofia said. "Catchy CD, though," she added, looking for his reaction, but he didn't reply, merely kept looking ahead as they walked. "You know which one I like? Something?"
Nick finally shook his head and huffed. "It's much better in Spanish."
Sofia grinned, and when he finally realized what he'd said he looked at her, his eyes wide and alarmed. Sofia gasped loudly and turned around, calling the first person she saw.
Greg looked in their direction, but Nick grabbed her and quickly pushed her into the break room, where he closed the door behind him and faced her decisively, his hand on her arm.
"Breakfast for a week," he said.
"Two weeks, consecutive days."
"Two weeks, no IHOP, no Denny's, no disgusting diner food. Good restaurants. Nice restaurants."
Nick seethed at her, trying to stand his ground, but she smiled and crossed her arms. "Fine."
Sofia grinned and shook his hand. At that moment Greg opened the door to the break room and upon seeing them holding hands he frowned. "What's... going on?"
"Nothing," Sofia said casually and walked past him. Nick tried to appear as nonchalant as her, but he nervously avoided all eye contact and followed her out to the parking lot.
Greg rolled his eyes at their retrieving forms. "Why do you curse me with geeky friends," he asked God as he reached for a soda in the refrigerator.
"You're proud of yourself, aren't you?" Nick told Sofia in the patrol car as she grinned at the open road ahead.
"Stealing your money every day for half a month?" Sofia mused. "Oh yeah. What does losing feel like?"
Nick thought of the ensuing breakfast encounters with the leggy blonde and sat back, grinning. "Not quite like losing."
Sofia looked at him, chuckled, her cheeks slightly red, and pressed on the accelerator.