Grissom was the first to move toward the Audio Visual Lab. He pushed his glasses up onto his nose as he walked and looked toward the monitor rather than immediately ask Catherine what she was talking about. His expression didn't shift at the sight on the screen, but his voice held the slightest hint of excitement when he spoke.
"How do you recognize it?"
Her hand was still over her face and seemed to press harder as the pressure in the room shifted to tell her that others had quickly entered. "I was there," she managed in a muffled voice. "Nearly two years ago."
"Crime scene?" Grissom asked in a low tone.
Her head shook and her hand seemed to finally release its hold on her mouth. "I had Sara process the scene for me. I was drugged and …" She looked toward Grissom, whose eyes were locked on the young woman in the image. "Gil, don't you remember?"
Grissom shook his head and dared look at the party gathered behind them. His eyes pierced past Mark and Jason toward Hodges. "I never saw the photographs Sara took of the scene, but I recall the incident."
Jason followed Grissom's gaze and let his eyes steel into Hodges. "Was it him, Catherine?"
She flicked her eyes to Hodges, then looked up to Jason. "No."
Sara took a breath and checked her hip for her weapon. "It wasn't even officially logged into our databases. I processed this one as a favour to Catherine." She caught the flick of Catherine's head as she nodded in agreement out of the corner of her eye and took a few steps backward. "How did he even know about this one, Cat?"
"I don't know, Sara."
Mark wiped the blades of his weapon along the red lining of his wing so didn't raise his eyes to anyone in the room. "Not very creative is he?"
Jason tilted his chin toward Mark, but kept his eyes on Catherine, who had begun to zoom the camera lens toward the window. "Was that supposed to be a joke, Skipper?"
Catherine waited until she heard the snort from Mark before she leaned back off the table and circled her finger on the screen. "The complex is pretty big, considering the costs of staying there. It has around four storeys. If we can try to make out any of the landmarks outside the window, then we can narrow our room search to a specific floor."
Sara licked at her top lip. "I already have a feeling I know which room it is."
Catherine nodded. "Let's make sure before we bust in and interrupt a legitimate couple enjoying their by-the-hour stay."
Mark strode up behind her and set his weapon in its holster. "Can't we just ask the front desk?"
Jason agreed. "Might be faster than trying to work it …"
Catherine interrupted him with a short breath. "Got it. Ground floor to the rear of the complex."
Mark's brows shot up into his helmet. "Tell me you also have the room number, Catherine, and I'll kiss you."
She was tempted to pucker up and accept a kiss, but kept to simply sweeping her hair over her ear. "Exactly as Sara suspected. Same room I was in."
Jason shot his glare back to Hodges, who was still whimpering on the ground. "You sick asshole."
Catherine swept past him on a mission to rescue their victim. "I'll find time to be sickened later, Condor. Let's just go get her."
The exodus out of the room and into the streets of Las Vegas was halted by three figures blocking the doorway.
Grissom stood to the front of the group with his clipboard against his chest and his glasses down his nose. He looked at the group over the top of his glasses before he slowly pushed them back into place. For the briefest second it looked as though he was going to attempt to stop them completely, but before either the Eagle or Condor could comment, the Entomologist looked toward his wife.
"Sara, you ride with the Commander and I in the Denali. Catherine, you, The Condor, Nick take the Yukon. I want full kits in those vehicles. We process immediately."
Jason actually thought to argue with that directive as they all pushed their way through the door into the hall. "Doctor. I'll take my car, thank you."
Grissom shook his hear and spared a glance at Hodges as they passed. "Absolutely not."
"And who are you to stop me?"
Grissom palmed the door to the garage to open it. "Noone, Jason, however I am sure your Commander will agree that less is more in this case. We take only two vehicles."
Mark agreed – if somewhat reluctantly. "The G-2 remains here, Jason. It's easier for us to go with them."
Jason sneered as he strode past Nick and snatched the keys from his fingers. "Then I'm driving." He pointed at Catherine. "You better be a hell of a navigator, Cat."
"I've loaded the information into the GPS unit."
Jason sucked air in through the side of his mouth as he flopped in to the seat and adjusted the rearview mirror. "GPS can never keep up."
Her head flicked to Grissom as she opened the passenger door. "Gil. I'm scared."
Grissom smirked and clipped his seatbelt. "Reputation again, Mark?"
Mark answered distractedly, annoyed that there wasn't a hurried and explosive departure out of the building. "No, Doctor. Driving is something the condor never jokes about."
Both Sara and Grissom inhaled gulps of air as the sound of squealing tires and a roaring six-cylinder engine being forced to act like it was an eight, exploded past them.
"Guess not," Sara squeaked as she pressed her foot into the floor to attempt to keep up.
"ETA?" Mark asked softly in a vain attempt to remain calm.
"Five minutes," Sara strained as she took a corner in third gear. "Although if Jason has anything to do about it, we'll be there in one."
Mark nodded and stared out of the window. "I'm coming, Sweetheart," he whispered softly into his own reflection in the window.
"Commander," Grissom breathed in a tone of voice much like Anderson would use preceding a lecture.
Mark shifted his eyes to Grissom and blinked in acknowledgement. "Yes?"
"Your attack on the suspect; it may harm our case."
Mark's lips pursed and he looked back at the window. "Right now that is the least of my concerns, Doctor." He let out a long breath. "All I want to focus on is finding Princess. The logistics and reprimand for my actions and their effect on the case can wait."
"I would have expected more control from you."
Mark actually had to laugh. "I think I was more than controlled throughout this investigation, wouldn't you?" He didn't wait for Grissom to answer, not did he give Sara a chance to stop the car before he had the door open and leapt toward Jason and Catherine.
His voice was a dark command when he finally spoke. "Which room, Catherine?"
Catherine looked with wide eyes toward Grissom in question as to whether or not they should wait. "Uh…"
Sara answered for her with a flick of her wrist. "That one, Commander. Room 121."
Mark shared a look with Jason. "Thank you, Sara." With a flick of the chin, both Mark and Jason rushed the front door. Their shoulders impacted simultaneously, which gave more than enough force for the hinges to splinter, buckle and then break.
"Princess!" Mark yelled in a desperate voice. "Sweetheart, are you here?"
Jason stilled as if trying to isolate her voice from the din and ado from the doorway that was making this particular room very noisy. He spun and pointed at the door. "Someone shut off those sirens and …"
Her voice stole the words from his mouth and set Mark into immediate action. He kicked at a door and leapt blindly into the room. "Princess!"
He didn't take a second to survey the scene, nor her current position. As soon as he located her, he leapt. He was inside the room and onto the bed within two seconds of hearing her call to him. He removed his helmet and dropped it to the floor as his hands cupped her face, touched at her shoulders and then ran up her arms. "Honey, are you okay?"
All she could do was nod – and cry – as she tugged at her restraints. "Mark, please just get me out of here."
He nodded quickly and let his tears spill as he rattled the chains of her cuffs. "Please. Someone undo these."
Sara heard the absolute urgency in his voice and didn't bother to adhere to policy as she slid to the bed and petted her vest down for her own set of cuff-keys. "Are you okay, Swan?"
Princess panted and continued to tug at the cuffs in impatience. "Please, just get me out of these." She could feel the shackles release at her feet by another criminalist and wondered painfully why the wrists were taking so long.
Mark seemed to be suffering the same confusion. "Sara, please." He rattled the chain harder. "Please."
Sara closed her eyes over her own tears at the truly pathetic whine in his voice. Like that of a child begging for his favourite toy, his pleading pierced a last thread inside her and she felt herself fall apart in time with the rolling click of the releasing cuff.
Princess felt her freedom and threw herself up into Mark's chest before Sara had a moment to move to the other cuff. With enough freedom to be able to hold Mark painfully around his neck, she collapsed into him.
"I thought you'd never find me," she sobbed into his shoulder as she felt his hold on her tighten and lift her to her knees.
"Neither did I."
Sara sniffed and wiped at her cheeks as she took the duvet and drew it up over Princess' shoulder to both give her some dignity and to warm her up. She gasped in shock when she felt Mark tightly clutch at her hand. She looked up into his red-rimmed and tear swollen blue eyes.
"Thank you, Sara," he breathed in genuine gratitude.
She nodded and attempted to pull her hand from his and was surprised when he only held on to her tighter and pulled her hand toward his chest.
"I owe you my life," he croaked before she could respond.
"You owe me nothing," she assured softly.
He released her hand with a slow blink of his eyes and buried himself into Princess. Together, Mark and Princess wept into each other – a weeping that seemed to escalate as Jason moved in and joined the circle.
Sara slid off the bed and seemed to pout out her lower lip as she joined her own team at the door. She used both hands to wipe at her eyes. "It's over," she breathed in a breath more upset than relieved.
Grissom slid his eyes to her and licked unsurely at his lip as he fought the desire to comfort her. "No, Sara. Our job is only just beginning."
Chief Anderson's voice slid without emotion into the conversation. "No, Doctor Grissom. Your job is at an end. This will become our case from here." He pre-empted the argument. "Unfortunately for your investigation, it must be handed across to the Federation. Your man abducted a G-Force member, which, as you know, carries a compulsory and non-negotiable life sentence." He took a moment to inhale a long and emotion heavy breath. "Your victims will see justice – of that I assure you."
He knew that to argue would be futile – the FBI operated in much the same manner. "I understand, but request that my team be respected and provided with regular updates as to your own investigation."
"I would expect the same also," Anderson replied softly. "I thank you and your team for your work in ensuring the Swan's safe return. I am sure my team will find a moment to offer their own thanks."
Catherine interrupted with a soft sigh as she tilted her head to the trio still embracing ahead of them. "That's thank you enough for us, Mr. Anderson." She lightly slapped the back of her hand against Grissom's chest and nodded to the doorway.
Sara opened her mouth and nodded. "As long as there's coffee involved."
Catherine stooped to pick up her kit and took a last look at the young G-Force team on the bed. "I know just the place that'll Irish it up for you."
"Works for me," Brass snorted.
Without even a second look the CSI team walked out of the room, each member carrying their own mixed feelings about the case, the victims, the perpetrator, and the conclusion. The only thing each of their minds silently agreed upon was that they'd never see that mighty, strong, invincible and bullet proof G-Force team in the same way again.