Sydney Leigh Grissom sighed as she sat on the hospital bed waiting for the nurse to come in a cast her left leg. This was not how she had planned to spend her evening. Shifting slightly she pulled her drumsticks from her coat pocket and then pulled her good leg up underneath her so she could drum on the bed.
"What are you doing?" the formidable nurse Jean had returned.
"Practicing; I have a gig on Saturday." Jean glared at her.
"Well practice somewhere else." Sydney rolled her eyes.
"Whatever. It's not like I was hurting anything." Another glare. Sydney tucked her sticks away and watched with interest as the other woman deftly went about her business. When she repositioned the ankle Sydney groaned and leaned back into the bed, closing her eyes.
"What the hell happened Syd?" Sara Sidle-Grissom barreled into the room and took in the situation with a sweeping gaze.
"I was walking upstairs to give my article to the editor and one of the maintenance guys was carrying some boxes of old files down to the basement and he slipped and threw them. They hit me and I fell down the stairs backwards, cracked my head and broke my ankle."
Sara sighed and sat on the bed next to her daughter, wrapping an arm around her and placing a kiss on her temple.
"Are you ok?"
"I'll live," said Sydney. "I ache all over but it's nothing I can't deal with."
"How did you get here?"
"Ambulance," replied Sydney, rolling her eyes. "They're so dramatic at work. I could probably have driven myself but they wouldn't let me. "
"I'm glad. What if you went into shock or something? Besides, better safe than sorry."
"I suppose. So are you going to take me home?"
"Well, I really don't have time. I left some evidence in Trace and I need to get back to the results. Do mind going with me to the lab for a couple of hours?"
"Are you kidding? You actually want me to go to the lab?"
"Yeah, your father and I talked about it and we think it's time they knew about you."
"Are you sure?" Sydney was doubtful.
"I think so. I'm tired of hiding the truth; you and your sisters are my daughters and I'm proud of all of you. I'm tired of hiding the fact that I have a family because of what might happen if they put all the pieces together."
"So how about this, I'll tell them I'm your daughter, but I won't mention dad. That way you can ease into the whole situation?" Sara watched as the nurse finished up.
"I think that might work," she said slowly.
"Thanks. I just knew I was a genius deep down." Sara laughed and hugged her daughter again. They were quiet for a time as the waited for the cast to dry. Finally Sydney had to voice something,
"What are you going to do if the truth comes out and puts your job on the line?" Sara took her time answering.
"I've been thinking about leaving the lab."
"What?" Sydney's jaw dropped, "Mom, are you kidding me?"
"No. I want to try my hand at something new. And I want to be around more, I'm missing out on so much with you girls. I want to finish my PhD and try my hand at writing. Besides, I've been offered a position at the university anyway."
"Really? You didn't tell me that! Are you going to take it?"
"I don't know. I'm seriously considering it though. The hours are a lot friendlier and that would mean no more crazy double and triple shifts."
"Hmm," Sydney mulled it over. "It would be kind of cool."
"Yes, well it's not anything more than a few thoughts right now so don't get too attached to the idea. Let's just see what tonight brings us."
Sydney looked around the entrance hall of the crime lab with much curiosity. This was the place where her mother and father spent so much time. This was the place she'd heard so much about over the years. Sara beckoned her over to the desk and Sydney carefully maneuvered over on the unfamiliar crutches. The receptionist was missing so Sydney picked up the pen lying next to the guest book and filled in the date, time and her name; Sydney Leigh Sidle, carefully leaving out the Grissom part. Sara leaned over the counter and snagged a visitor badge before fastening it to her child's shirt.
"Right, this way then," she said and started down a hallway. Sydney noted the many windows and the interesting rooms they revealed beyond as she passed. Making a mental note to ask for a tour later she settled herself in the break room with a cup of coffee and her cello, which she had carried strapped to her back. Pulling a chair away from the table she took a seat and ran the resin over her bow. Clearing her mind she settled the instrument between her knees and closed her eyes, relaxing every muscle in her body. After checking the strings were tuned correctly she began to play. She went through a few
simple, warm-up pieces then launched into a cello concerto, the rich, textured sound resonating throughout the room, filling it with a sound so beautiful that it invaded her every sense, intoxicating her mind and overwhelming her soul; her own unique drug.
In the ballistics lab Catherine interrupted Bobby as he talked about the latest weapon to come into his possession.
"Did you hear that?" she asked.
"Hear what?" asked Nick, confused. Silence fell as the three tried to figure out what the sound was.
"It's music," said Bobby, shrugging it off and continuing with his spiel, finishing with a promise to page them when he got more results. Catherine was still puzzled by the sound and she wandered down the hallway looking for its source with Nick trailing alongside her. They reached Grissom's office, but it was dark and empty.
"That's weird," said Cath, "I was sure it was probably him listening to his classical stuff again." Nick shook his head and pointed,
"It's coming from the break room." The pair looked through the window and were met by an unusual sight.
"What the heck?" muttered Nick, looking at a bewildered Catherine. She shrugged and opened the door, heading inside. Nick followed her over to the coffee pot, helping himself to some of the murky brew. The cellists' eyes were closed so she didn't notice as they took seats on the couch opposite her. The sound was just so pure that they couldn't help but sigh in delight as the music graced their tired souls; thoughts of bodies, murderers, evidence and death momentarily pushed from their minds. When the song came to an end the girl sat still for a moment, clearly reveling in her accomplishment. She sighed softly then straightened and opened her eyes. Her brown eyed gaze fell on the two criminalists sitting before her.
"Oh, hi. I hope I wasn't interrupting anything, or disturbing you," she said, in a soft, musical voice. Catherine looked at her thoughtfully. The girl appeared to be about eighteen or nineteen and Catherine would bet serious money on it that this girl had something to do with Sara. She was the spitting image of the lanky CSI; her frame was slender and wiry and if Catherine hazarded a guess, it would be that the girl stood around five foot eight or nine. That wasn't what made her think of her co-worker though; it was the sparkling brown eyes and the thick, chocolaty hair that cascaded down her back to her waist. It was in the smooth, pale skin and the oval shaped face. Choosing her words carefully Catherine decided she would test her skills of interrogation on this newcomer.
"No," she said, "you're fine. We were just admiring. That was quite some performance; I wish I had talent like that."
"Thank you. I find that practice helps," Sydney replied with a smile. Nick laughed.
"Well it was beautiful all the same. I'm Nick Stokes, by the way, and this is Catherine Willows."
"I know who you are, but it's nice to meet you all the same."
"Thanks," said Nick, a frown etched on his face. "How do you know us?" Sydney shrugged.
"I've heard a lot about you."
"Uh oh, is that a good thing?" joked Catherine.
"Mostly," answered Sydney, truthfully. Catherine's perfectly groomed eyebrows went up, disappearing under her bangs. She considered the girl, unsure whether she was pleased with that omission. Oh well, she thought, at least she appears to be honest. Her curiosity was beginning to get the better of her, so she asked,
"Who are you?"
"Sydney Leigh." Hmm, not as forth-coming as she would have hoped. Catherine decided to switch direction.
"What are you doing here? I mean, the Las Vegas Crime Lab in the middle of the night is hardly the place for a youngster to practice cello."
"I'm waiting," replied Sydney, deliberately vague. She was enjoying this. The blonde woman's rising frustration and curiosity was entertaining.
"A person." Catherine sighed and Nick smiled.
"Isn't it a little late to be up? Don't you have school tomorrow?" he asked.
"I do, but I work nights and sleep during the afternoon."
"Do you go to Jefferson High? I didn't think they let students do half days."
"I go to UNLV. I'm a junior there."
"Oh," Nick was embarrassed. "I'm sorry; I thought you were younger than that." Sydney smiled.
"That's ok. You're right though; I'm sixteen." Catherine's jaw dropped.
"What? And you're in college?" Sydney shrugged.
"I graduated from high school right before my fifteenth birthday. It's no big deal, I was bored so they let me test out of a bunch of classes and with A.P. credits I didn't have to do much undergraduate work."
"What are you majoring in?" asked Nick, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"Psychology and Philosophy, with minors in English and Sociology."
"A double major? Are you crazy?" wondered Catherine. Sydney smiled.
"No. I wanted to challenge myself. And this way I won't have to choose between subjects that I like."
Catherine glanced at Nick, her eyebrows raised. He shrugged in return, then returned his gaze to the girl in front of him, noticing her cast.
"What happened to your leg?"
"I was climbing the stairs at work to give an article to my editor when a guy carrying boxes of files slipped and dropped the boxes by accident. They hit me and I fell down the stairs."
"I work for a magazine."
"Really," Catherine was interested. "What drove you to that?"
"I wanted to major in Photojournalism, but I decided that it wasn't academic enough. I've been studying photography since I was small; my mother and I have a darkroom set up in our house. That and music are my greatest loves. I decided that taking this job was as close as I could get."
"Why are you pursuing academics if your interests lie in the arts? Aren't you denying yourself happiness by ignoring what you love to do?" asked Catherine, floored by this youngsters admissions. Sydney considered her before answering.
"Not to sound like I'm full of myself, but academics come easily for me, I didn't want to waste those gifts when I would have the chance to help people if I applied myself. It seemed like the right thing to do. Besides I can always study music and photography later, once I'm established in my career."
"What are you going to be?"
"Probably a psychologist. I may get into teaching. I intend to get masters degrees in psychology and philosophy and then work on a PhD in psychology." Nick whistled.
"You are going to have some serious student loans to pay off," he remarked. Sydney blushed then admitted she had a full-ride scholarship.
"Jeez," muttered Catherine, "You're a straight A student aren't you?"
"Yes. Why, is there something wrong with that?" challenged Sydney. She was starting to get irritated with this barrage of questions.
"No," said Catherine hastily, "nothing at all. I was just curious. Have you ever had your IQ tested?" Sydney rolled her eyes.
"Yes, but why do you need to know?"
"Just interested. You seem like an exceptionally bright young lady."
"Why thank you. And I suppose you won't stop badgering me until I tell you so here it is, my IQ is 167. But listen, I firmly believe that the number is not what matters; it is what I choose to do with that number and the abilities that I have. It is how I develop myself and my skills and how I use those skills to the benefit of others." Catherine was momentarily silenced, so Nick stepped up to the plate.
"That's very admirable," he acknowledged. "You're parents must be very proud of you."
"Yeah. My father is pleased with my academic achievements, but I think my mother would prefer me to do what I really love. I know she's proud of me no matter what, but she wants me to be happy in what I do." Sensing the subject was closed Catherine picked up on a different lead.
"How long have you been playing the cello?" she asked.
"That's a long time. Are you part of any groups?"
"I play with the Las Vegas Orchestra, the Las Vegas Youth Ensemble and with my band, Ethereal Theory."
"You play cello in a band?" asked Nick.
"Occasionally. Mostly drums, some guitar and piano."
"Four instruments?" marveled Catherine, staring at Sydney. "And you don't want to study music."
"I didn't say I don't want to study music. I said I choose to major in Psychology and Philosophy. That doesn't mean I'm not interested in studying music."
"You obviously have a talent, why not nurture it?" asked the blonde. Sydney sighed. Would this woman ever shut up?
"Look," she said, finality in her voice, "my parents are extremely successful and established in their careers. I have a lot to live up to. They both have superb educations behind them and I feel compelled to do the same. Two years from now I will have two bachelor's degrees and I will be the age I would have been if I had finished high school with my peers. Maybe then I'll apply to Julliard and see what happens."
Taken aback, Catherine was momentarily silenced. Nick eyed her from his position then spoke up hurriedly, trying to dissuade Catherine.
"Cath, don't you think that's enough questions?"
"I… oh fine," she, muttered. They sat in silence for a few minutes until the door opened and Greg Sanders walked in, humming along to the iPod blaring in his ears. He wandered over to the coffee pot
and poured himself a mug before turning around. His gaze fell on Sydney and he choked on the sip he'd just taken. Coughing, he set the beverage down on the table and ripped the headphones from his ears.
"What the hell?" he exclaimed, "Who are you?" Sydney raised her eyebrows.
"Sydney Leigh. You must be Greg. What a pleasure." Greg's mouth fell open and Catherine and Nick burst out laughing.
"It's ok Greg," said Nick, "she pretty much had that effect on us too." Greg took a few deep breaths, eyeing the new girl suspiciously.
"Where did you come from?" he asked.
"Well, immediately before this the hospital. Before that I was at work and prior to that I was at home."
"That's not what I meant," he began.
"I know, I was just teasing. Just testing you."
"Yeah, to see if you're as sharp as I've heard."
"How have you heard about me?"
"I have my sources," she replied, mysteriously. Greg looked to his colleagues for help. They shrugged.
"Don't look at us man;" said Nick, "we've been trying to get information out of her for a while now." He spread his hands and said, "Nothing doing."
"Good choice of music," said Sydney.
"What?" Greg was flummoxed.
"Smoke on the Water," she said, "a classic." When he didn't respond she sighed and resettled her cello. Closing her eyes she inhaled and emptied her mind, then began to play the opening chorus to the song Greg had less than artfully been singing. Opening her eyes a crack she could see her audience was captivated. Smirking to herself she decided to show off a little. She slowed the pace of the music down and effortlessly slipped into a section of one of her personal favorites, Paint it Black before changing it up again, this time to Dust in the Wind. When the music slowed and finally stopped the other occupants of the room were left speechless.
"How in the hell did you do that?"
"Well, it's quite simple, you draw the bow across the strings, pressing down with your free had at certain intervals to form different notes."
"Don't be a smart ass," said Catherine, "that's not what he meant."
"I know and I can't help it, it's a family trait."
"She's right, it is." All eyes turned to see Sara leaning into the door frame, her hands in her pockets and a smile on her face. "I see you've met my daughter," she said to her co-workers. Three mouths fell open.
"You're what?" spluttered Catherine.
"Are you kidding me?" squawked Greg.
"No," said Sara, her smile lighting her face up in a way her teammates had never seen before.
"You ready to go honey?" she asked. Sydney nodded and quickly slid her cello back into its case and then hauled herself to her feet. Sara stepped into the room and slung the instrument over her shoulder while Sydney gathered her crutches.
"By guys," she called out, "it was nice to meet you." The pair left, laughing to themselves. Out in the parking lot they settled into Sara's car, and dissolved into hysterics.
"Are they always that weird?" asked Sydney when she'd regained control.
"No, odd yes, but not like that. Usually they have some people skills. I can't believe Catherine interrogated you like that."
"Oh but it was ever so entertaining," snorted Syd. Sara nodded in agreement.
"You did wonderfully. But god knows the rumors will be flying by tonight."
"I can't wait to hear about it," said Sydney as Sara put the car in gear and pulled out onto the road, heading for home.
Back inside the crime lab, three CSI's were still sitting in the break room. Greg rounded on the other two.
"You swear you didn't know about her?" he asked. They shook their heads.
"Well, if she's got a kid then presumably she must have a guy out there somewhere. Sorry Greggo, looks like she's taken," said Nick. Greg hung his head dejectedly.
"I always knew she was out of my league," he sighed, "but there was always the hope, you know?"
Nick nodded then turned to look at Cath. She was staring of into the distance so Nick nudged her.
"Just wondering where you were," he said.
"Oh, nowhere, just thinking that this is going to make some interesting gossip for the grapevine," she answered.
"Cath, this isn't our business. You really shouldn't."
"So what," she interrupted. "This is major news, and Sara's as big a mystery as the boss man. People are gonna wanna know about this."
"Seriously Catherine, I don't think you should," voiced Greg, "you know how Sara is, she'll kick your ass from here to Timbuktu and back again."
"As if she could," Catherine brushed off the concern and stood up, wandering out of the room. Nick looked at Greg, who shrugged his shoulders helplessly,
"I see trouble on the horizon," he warned. Nick nodded and went to refill his coffee cup.