Disclaimer: Grissom and Sara married means 'I don't own CSI'
A.N.: I haven't written or read anything CSI related for a while, so I'm a little rusty. Since we didn't have time to learn much about Riley Adams (better this way), it was hard for me to write this piece, but I just had to do it. I did the best I could do. Tell me what you think about it.
Given the circumstances, I knew it would be difficult. A new city was a big enough challenge; a new job, too. But a new city and a new job replacing a guy who had been murdered? That took the prize.
I could do it. It would be hard to adjust to the hours – those were my biggest concern – but caffeine would help.
A few days working in the Vegas crime lab, and I knew I had taken it for granted.
Turns out it's pretty hard to step into a group that already has a longtime bond like that. I don't know what I was expecting, really. Sure, I knew that standing my ground in a new workplace where everyone has already been together for a while would be hard. But that lab... it's like they are a family or something like that. They have each other's backs all the time. More than that, they care about each other, they truly do. And when I showed up... I could feel people staring at me while I walked down the hall, and I knew they were thinking "she's the new girl; should we let her in or not?" It seemed like every time I was out in the field with someone else, they were testing me, to see if I was good enough to enter their book club or whatever it is that they do on their spare time. Because even their spare time was spent with each other. God, that was scaring. As soon as the shift ended, I could hear Stokes saying "Hey, who's up for breakfast? It's on me", or Willows would say "I don't feel like going home quite yet, who's with me?" and they all would go strolling happily to their cars, just to meet up at a diner ten minutes later. And I get this, this whole hanging out with your colleagues in order to advance the on-work relationship, I really do. But three, four times a week? Isn't it a bit too much? Sometimes I couldn't wait to get home, to get away.
Not to mention that the timing was the worst possible. People were still grieving the death of that guy... what's his name? Black, Brown? I was supposed to replace him. It happened to me once before. When I began working at the police station back in St. Louis, my predecessor had just died in the line of duty. But honestly, it wouldn't have made a difference if the guy had retired, because no one ever talked about him. And the few times they did, it was like they were remembering someone they hadn't met in a while, and making a mental note to call him up later. In this lab, though, every single time Brown's name came up, they would get all quiet. Catherine would look down at her feet. Greg would turn his hands into fists, and Nick would put a hand to his forehead like he had a headache. It was obvious they still thought about him all the time. In fact, the very day I first set foot in that lab, a shrink was there to talk to whoever needed help in their grieving. There hadn't been a shrink in St. Louis. But, well, I figured at the time, that's how they do things in Vegas. Maybe everyone was close to Brown, maybe he was the popular guy.
But if that's true, then everyone is the popular guy there. I met my supervisor, Gil Grissom, and although we didn't spend much time together, I could tell he was a bit introspective. He was a genius, though, and everyone was always trying to impress him. Well, the lab rats, at least. Then he too, left. This seemed to take everyone by surprise, except Catherine. But I think that she was the one that suffered the most with his departure. Whenever we were at a crime scene, it was like she was always looking for someone, waiting for someone to show up. Always looking over her shoulder in the lab, as if Grissom would appear out of nowhere. I mean, if it was Grissom she was missing. It could have been the other guy.
With Grissom gone, she was made the new supervisor, and, surprisingly, everyone was truly happy for her. I expected a lot of greed and envy from that lab. I guess I assumed that that was all Vegas was about.
I was the one who brought that to the lab. Unknown to me, I was a little jealous of them. Of their family, if you want to call it that. With their little inside jokes and their history, their apparently unbreakable bond and their easiness around each other, I don't think there's anything else you could call them.
I tried to force my way in, and they would probably have let me. Yeah, they are that good. But I wasn't looking for a family. I already have one, thank you very much. I wanted a job, doing something I was good at, with nice people to work with. That was it. They had so much more.
Catherine was a piece of work. When I first walked into the lab and looked around, I wondered if there were many women working in the field, and if there would be any in my shift. Catherine walks by and I remember thinking "This one is clearly not a CSI". She handled herself so brilliantly, and dressed herself so carefully, that my first impression was that she was an A.D.A, or someone with a job that did not require her to get her hands dirty. I thought all the female CSI's would be geeks, that I would be the one people would look at and say "Are you sure you're with the crime lab?" No, Catherine got all of that. She was too pretty, too perfect. I heard someone saying something about her being a stripper. I never verified that piece of information, but it sure got stuck in my mind. I was always looking for any kind of vulgarity in her. Maybe she was the kind of woman who flirted with any men within a fifty mile radius. Maybe she wears too much neckline. Maybe her hips sway too much when she walks. I was wrong about her, and I can't stand being wrong.
Greg Sanders was another story altogether. I was wrong about him too. I thought he was the nerd who would never grow up, who would never hold information in his head for longer than two hours, and who would always mess everything up in a crime scene because he forgot to wear gloves, or he did not document the area before bagging the evidence. I thought that even though he had been working as a CSI for longer than I have, I would have to take him under my wing and teach him everything I know. I have to admit I often do that. Assume I'm better than other people, I mean. It took me years of unwanted unofficial therapy sessions with my parents to figure that out.
Nick was... What can I say? I was attracted to him the moment we laid eyes on each other. His bright smile, his manners, even his Texan accent. I liked all of that. And I never approved of being romantically involved with someone you work with. But he was just so handsome I couldn't even try not to think about having something with him. I had no idea whether he was attracted to me or not, but if he was, he would have never come on to me out of the blue. He's too chivalrous for that. So I figured I would tread the waters a bit, try a little of innocent flirting, then see where things could go. Greg had told me all about Grissom and Sara, another CSI who had left them a couple of years ago. According to Greg, she was the one who was constantly trying to make the first move. No one knows for sure exactly when or how they got together ("You could try to get something out of Catherine, but you wouldn't wanna do that. You're new, you still got some good things ahead of you before you have to face Catherine for the first time", those had been his exact words) but Greg swears it had been Sara the initiator. I could do that, I thought that at the time, let Nick know I was interested. But it was like he was holding back. Like Catherine, he too seemed to be always waiting for something, or someone; he seemed to think that when he turned a corner, that something would be there. Greg had told me about Nick and Brown's (what's his first name?) friendship, but it wasn't like that. I knew Nick was single (On my second day at the lab, Greg thought it was his job to fill me in everybody's lives. Result was, I have a file as big as Brazil on every single person I would ever need to come in contact with while doing my work. And trust me, there are a lot of people working in that lab. A lot), but I was sure it was a woman he was always thinking about, waiting for. Someone who used to work in the lab, maybe? I didn't want to ask my source about that, because I did not feel comfortable with Sanders babbling about me having a crush on Nick. Well, long story short, I liked the guy. But I don't think he ever noticed I was a woman.
Dr. Langston was the worst part. He was a rookie, for God's sake. He started yesterday and already thinks he owns the world. That's what I couldn't stand about him, and why I always gave him a 'hard time'. He was careless with his actions, even if it concerned a fellow crime scene investigator - I will never forget the terrible seconds in the button company, when he approached an armed suspect -, and somehow, thinks he has enough seniority to take charge in cases. Well, he does not. I respect him, I respect his age, but I am a CSI level 2 and I earned my position. What I did was remind him that there are a lot of things about this job that he's not aware of. He was just a rookie.
A rookie that found a way in.
I'm not saying they didn't like me. No, I don't think that was the case. When Frankie took us hostage and I managed to get out of the house to get my first aid kit, Nick was there, hiding behind a car, just to make sure I was alright. I appreciated that. But when everything was over and we were all standing outside, Catherine hugged Langston. I couldn't help but think that it meant she 'approved' him, and, since she did, everyone else should as well. Catherine clearly liked Langston. Nick soon developed a good relationship with him. I was left to wonder, why was it that the new guy gets better reception than I do?
What bothered me the most is that I was caring about it. Had it been any other place, any other lab, I would have been glad not to be caught in the middle of their sentimentalism. But in that lab, you were whether in or out. There was no midterm. If you couldn't blend in like you had always been there, then the best thing you could do was get out.
I didn't find my way in. Maybe that's my fault, maybe it's their fault. Their bond is so tight that it's hard for them to open it up a bit, to make room for someone else. They did it for Langston. They couldn't do it for me. To be honest, there was a part of me that actually wanted it. That wanted to be part of their group. Part of their family.
But the other part of me could not stop trying to find a reason. Something to explain why this place was so different from anywhere else. Wasn't everything in Vegas instantaneous? Wasn't it the place where everyone wanted money, and wanted it quick? Where nothing ever lasted? What made this people care about each other so much, in a city where no one cares about anything?
It seems that what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas. For the people working in the Las Vegas Crime Lab, what happens in Vegas follows you for the rest of your life, and stays in your mind and in your heart, which is exactly the place you will want it to stay. Just like a family. It makes you want to believe in humankind again.
In my case, what happened there will stay in the back of my mind for a while, bugging me. I'll wonder what went wrong. I'll probably come home from my new job, sit in front of the TV watching a movie and thinking about Catherine, Nick, Greg, Hodges, Wendy, Dr. Robbins, Dr. Langston. Then, after a few months, I'll shake it off. I'll forget it. They will be nothing to me but some people I've worked with. There's a good chance I'll even forget most of their names.
That's when I knew I was not fit for the job.
That's what made me realize I did not belong in that lab. In that family.
That's what made me leave.