A/N: We don't own anything related to CSI or its characters; just having fun! And GSR will always be a love story! Enjoy-more to come!
Squinting her eyes behind dark shades, Sara Sidle pressed fingers against her head and wished for the headache to disappear. The drive to the far north edge of the city had not taken long—traffic at mid-day tended to be less snarled than any other time of the day. She turned the radio on and let it play for several minutes before deciding the noise made her headache worse.
She drove another ten minutes before she stopped the vehicle in front of a house that had been built long before the neighborhood had developed and it had never 'caught up'. Glancing around, she noticed most of the houses she had passed had seen better days. The little shade provided by the stunted trees had already been taken by two other vehicles. Her head pounded; she pressed a palm to her eye trying to ease the pain.
Cutting the engine, a minute passed before Sara patted the pockets of her vest, making sure everything was in its place. Her fingers touched Velcro tabs, unconsciously adjusting the fit. She had checked her kit and the vehicle she was in before leaving the lab parking lot. Officially working part-time, she had learned to check her supplies, making sure everything was where it needed to be.
Softly, she chuckled. Even though she was working reduced hours, she was still working more than she wanted. Hearing her name, she looked up. She would always come when her friend and current supervisor called.
"Hey!" She called, smiling as Nick Stokes approached her. "What'd you find?" The two had worked together for so long that she had not questioned his request for her to drive out to the address.
He stopped several feet from her. "You are a welcomed sight, Sara." He laughed as he placed hands on hips. "I appreciate you coming—I really am trying to call you less." He spread his hands and laughed, shaking his head. "Do you remember a time when we would come up with an excuse for not working? 'I got a dentist appointment' and 'my mom is in town'—these new kids never worked for Grissom!"
Sara laughed with him at his referral to her husband. The laughter did not help her headache.
Nick continued, "You know he always had his reasons for not working day shift—always a revolving door, he claimed, and now I know he was right." He stepped forward and took her case from her hand. "Old man who owns the place dead in the living room—probably died of natural causes from the looks of things. Kind of a recluse. Mail carrier called in when the mail had not been collected in several days."
"Looks peaceful out here," Sara said as they walked toward the house.
The house was built of native stones—fitted together without obvious cuts by a skilled stonemason—with wide porches across the south and west sides providing shade from the sun. There were scrubby trees and dried up scrubs scattered across a long-neglected dusty clay yard.
"Yeah, you don't see many of these old rock houses left."
"So, if his death wasn't suspicious…"
Nick held the screen door open. "It's the body in the bedroom that got you out here."
Sara's eyes widened.
"Been there a while," Nick finished.
Inside the house, the temperature dropped ten degrees. Thin curtains moved with a hot breeze blowing in open windows covered by bars designed and installed to prevent break-ins.
Quickly surveying the room, Sara saw a man's body in an old recliner. "Doesn't smell," she said. "And the place is clean."
A young man, whose name she could not remember, was meticulously examining the body. He looked up and blushed. "Hello, Sara. Nice to see you again." He wrinkled his nose in an effort to get his eyeglasses in place before returning to his work.
Sara looked at Nick, mouthing "Name?"
"Found anything, Sam?"
The young man looked up again, "Nothing to indicate—given his age, position of the body, I'll venture natural causes." He noticed Sara and blushed again. "Of course, that's all preliminary."
"What about the other one?"
"Finishing up here—then I'll get to number two."
Nick grinned. "Sara, you want to help Sam with number two?'
A deeper blush spread across Sam's face.
"I'll take a look while you are finishing up," Sara said, pulling her camera into her hand. She shot a glance at Nick and jerked her head for him to follow her.
Walking behind her, Nick leaned forward, almost touching her ear, and whispered "Sam has a crush on you!"
Sara grimaced. "Yeah, right. I could be his mother!"
Nick giggled, "You always had the boys following you, honey."
They stopped at a bedroom doorway. Both remained quiet as Sara took in what was in the room.
Finally, she said. "Either I've stepped into 'A Rose for Emily' or 'Psycho-Redux'!"
The bed appeared to be an antique four-poster, a canopy frame covered in faded chintz, repeated in the bedcover, the curtains, and a chair in the corner, gave an eerie shadow and light impression on the bed. Everything was spotlessly clean. A mirror over the dresser reflected sunlight causing Sara to narrow her eyes.
The skull on the pillow threw everything into a macabre movie scene—and if the condition of the skull was an indication, the rest of the mummified body had been lying in the same place for years.
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