Title: Pretense
Author: SLynn
Rating: T

Pairing: Greg/OFC shades of Greg/Sara
Spoilers: Up to '4X4'/Season 5
Disclaimer: Does anyone actually read this?

Summary: A case hits too close to home for Greg, causing turmoil in his life. Set late Season 5.

Notes: Thank you Tripp3235 for still beta'ing after all this time! Also, Happy Halloween! Enjoy!

Chapter 5

"You started without me," Greg said, sounding slightly disappointed as he stood in the doorway of the garage. It was currently the only car impounded at the lab, so Sara had had the place to herself. As usual, she was working in near darkness, preferring to spotlight any evidence she might find with her flashlight, which in turn allowed her to concentrate clearer on a much smaller area.

"Did you change?" Sara asked, ignoring his complaint, as she peeked out from behind the hood of the trunk and gave Greg a once over.

"And showered," he added, coming inside and taking a spot beside her.

Sara nodded, tightlipped, as she turned her gaze back to the job at hand.

"It was really bad," Greg continued. "Like, I may have picked up the plague, bad."

"That's great," Sara said, not even sparing another glance his way, and absentmindedly shutting the trunk before quickly striding around to the driver's seat.

"Yes, the plague is always great," Greg said, rolling his eyes as he followed her. "Ask anyone from the fourteenth century."

Sara nodded, oblivious to his words, as she continued to stare into the car.

"Something wrong?" he asked.

"Doesn't this car seem..." she began, struggling for a moment to find the exact word, and finally landing on, "clean?"

"I guess," came the answer.

Greg walked around to the passenger's door, and peered into the window for a better view of the floorboards.

"Coveralls," Sara said without looking up, just as Greg's hand had reached for the handle.

"Right," Greg said, fighting back a yawn, as he turned and headed for the small locker where they were stored. "My bad."

"How did your case go?" Sara asked as she slid behind the driver's wheel, still searching in hopes of finding what she instinctively knew was missing, but unsure what that something could be.

"You know," Greg shrugged as he struggled into his suit. "Typical. Dead guy in a drainage ditch. Might be a suicide. It's Sofia's case, actually, so I probably won't do much more with it."

"Other than the hard part," Sara pointed out, finally smiling at him.

"Damn it," Greg snapped, not hearing her response and instead looking down at the newly busted zipper in his hand.

"Just toss it out," Sara said.

"I hate these things," he returned, nearly falling over as he pulled one leg out and momentarily lost his balance.

Sara tried not to laugh, as it was clearly not amusing to Greg, but it was hard not too. She found herself gradually watching him as he tossed the offending coveralls into the trash and retrieved a new pair, sitting down this time to kick off his shoes first.

"If you'd done that the first time," Sara chided, letting her words trail off gently as she could sense his mood turning sour.

"The only time a person should have to take off their shoes during the day is when they get home," Greg said, standing as he pulled the suit up to his waist and over his pants, before stopping and taking off his shirt.

"What are you doing?" Sara asked, her voice louder than she intended and sharp with surprise.

"I'm getting dressed," Greg said, moving quickly to pull down his t-shirt which had accidentally ridden up. "You know, like you told me to."

"Yes, well... hurry," Sara said, looking down to hide her embarrassment.

Greg turned his back to her and finished in silence and, as quickly as he could, got into the car's passenger seat.

"This is familiar," Greg remarked.

Sara shot him an inquisitive look.

"We're not even going anywhere, but still, you get to drive," he said, pointing to the steering wheel. "You know I have a license, right?"

"And four speeding tickets in the past year," Sara added.

"I am a good driver."

"We can argue about this later," Sara said, ending it. "We haven't got time now. We're heading out to Pahrump after shift change and -"

"Wait, what?" Greg interrupted. "When did that happen?"

"While you were out obtaining the plague. The local sheriff wants us there when they go to the house and it may be a crime scene."

"Okay," Greg said, uneasily shifting in his seat.

"If you can't make it, it's not a big deal. I can go alone."

"Of course I can make it," he said.

"If you have other plans or... or someone... somewhere else to be, Greg, it's fine. Really."

"And I really don't, so, I'm going with you."

"All right," Sara said with a sigh. No one could say she didn't try, and she couldn't very well stop him from going or force him not to work. "So, the car."

"Is clean, yes."

"Am I imaging that?" Sara asked, quite serious.

"I... I don't think so," Greg returned, taking a moment to really absorb the scene. "There's no wrappers, no crumbs. No... nothing. It's like in perfect condition. But it is new. This is a current model. Could she have just bought it?"

"Check the glove box," Sara said.

Greg popped it open, revealing only the owner's manual and nothing else.

"A neat freak?" Greg suggested.

"Or it wasn't hers. A rental?"

"Most rentals are not this nice. Unless you want to rent a Lamborghini or something on the Strip."

Greg turned sideways and looked into the backseat where the car seat still remained secured.

"That's an infant setup," he said, more thinking out loud than commenting in general. "It's rear facing. Every kid in the world makes some kind of mess... but this one."

Sara turned and looked as well, nodding in silent agreement.

"It's been used," Greg said, pointing out a stain that looked like it could have been milk or formula. "Probably cleaned, but we could still take a look. Pull it apart, see if there's anything more."

"We could do that," Sara said, turning at nearly the same time as Greg did, only to pause midway. At once their eyes met, locking them into place just inches apart.

"Should I take some more pictures?" Greg asked after a beat, not shying away and unconsciously dropping his voice to a near whisper.

Sara stared for a moment before nodding and backing away slightly.

"Okay," Greg said, his voice barely registering as he fell back into his seat.

Sara copied his movement, and both of them sat in silence staring out the windshield as if in a daze.

Moving first, Sara began to reach out towards him, only to be startled back again as Greg pushed open the door, and in an unusually loud voice called out, without looking her way, "I'll get started."

Sara nodded and watched him race across the room to where the camera equipment was stored. Letting out a deep breath, she shook her head as if to clear it and felt a growing sense of relief. About what, she wasn't clear. It had been a long day, perhaps she was just tired.

"I'm going to get some coffee," Sara said, getting out of the car just as Greg got back in to begin taking his photos. "Do you want one?"

"Sure," Greg said, not looking up from the camera he'd just grabbed hold of.

Greg waited until for nearly a full minute after the door shut before daring to look up. Sighing, he shook his head as he made it back over to the car and began to snap off several more photos to document the position of the car seat before removing it.

He knew he should be focusing more on what he was doing, but he couldn't. That all too familiar knot in his stomach had returned, and try as he may, Greg couldn't shake it. Ever since Sara had shown up at his apartment that morning, things had just felt off between them. They hadn't been able to fall in their comfortable, and well worn, groove at all, and even though Greg had his suspicions, he wasn't entirely sure what had changed. The whole day had been filled with drawn out pauses and too harsh conversations. It made him moody and nervous, and he hated it.

Pushing it momentarily from his mind, Greg thought less about himself and more about the child that the chair before him belonged to. Before he realized it a full hour had passed, yielding nothing new except a cup of stale coffee.

"There's nothing here," Greg sighed, having completely dismantled the seat twice in his search that only turned up some spare crumbs.

"I've got nothing here, too," Sara added, having been digging through the interior seats of the car.

"Danielle Thomsen may have been killed in this car, but it wasn't hers," Greg decided, stripping off his gloves and leaning back against the workbench. "It's too sterile. Of course, that's assuming the baby is hers. We don't even know if she had one."

"She did," Sara said, as if she'd just remembered. "While you were out with Sofia, I did some more research. She gave birth here in Vegas six months ago to a baby boy named James."

"So, we have a bloody car that doesn't look used," Greg began recapping. "A probably dead or missing former call girl. And a possibly dead or missing baby."

Sara sighed, crossing her arms in front of her.

"Our only prints are Danielle's. We won't know anything more about the car until the DMV decides we're a priority."

"Archie's helping," Sara interrupted. "He's got a friend there, and in case that doesn't work, he's checking the plate for tickets on file at the station."

"That's great, but is that it? Is that really all we have? Because, we don't even have a crime yet, just the appearance of one."

"This doesn't make sense," Sara agreed. "They cleaned the car and then committed the crime? Why not leave the body in the car? Why leave the car in such an obvious location?"

"Maybe she really was just very neat," Greg offered.

"This is beyond normal standards of neat."

"Compulsive?" Greg suggested.

"Let's not get caught up in this now," Sara sighed. "What have we got that's solid?"

"Victim's fingerprints," Greg began to rattle off. "Some hair and fiber, likely from the victim with Mia now. And a lot of dried up blood in a very clean car."


"That's it," Greg finished. "But..."

"What?" Sara prodded, seeing him hesitate as he turned back towards the car.

"That much blood... do you think she was stabbed or shot?"

"There's no cast off, so, she probably wasn't stabbed."

"But there's no splatter either," Greg opinioned. "There's no indication that anything happened here."

"Except for the blood."

"Exactly," Greg agreed.

"Let's take a break," Sara said, rubbing her hands over her eyes in sheer frustration.

"Okay," Greg sighed, moving to put back all the equipment he'd taken out. "Want to grab breakfast? My treat."

"Does that mean you're picking the place?"

Greg laughed.

"Because I'll buy if I get to pick the place," she continued.

"I'm not picky," he said, "as long as they have pancakes. With lots of syrup. I need sugar."

"You have the worst eating habits of anyone I know."

"And bacon. Doesn't bacon sound good right now?" Greg teased, knowing full well that bacon never sounded good to Sara who was a strict vegetarian.

"Disgusting," Sara muttered, helping him finish up and carefully turning her back as they both stripped out of their coveralls.

"I'm going to have syrup with my bacon."

Sara shot him a dirty look, but couldn't make it last. In the end, she had to laugh.