Title: Hustler

Author: Michmak

Summary: An innocent bet during a pool game leads to an unlikely duet. Who knew Nick and Warrick could sing?

Disclaimer: The only characters I own are the ones I create for the purpose of this story. All the rest? Not mine.

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"Why are we here again?" Grissom muttered to no one in particular as he, Warrick and Sara entered a particularly smoky bar. Off in the corner, a small stage stood empty, awaiting the evenings' entertainment.

"Greg's birthday, remember?" Leave it to Sara to reply to a purely rhetorical question. "This is where he wanted to come."

Scanning the room, she spotted Nick, Greg and Catherine off to the side of the bar, sitting in a crowded booth. She smiled when Catherine spotted them and waved in their direction.

"Hey guys. Good of you to show up. Close your case?"

Grissom grimaced at her, "Yeah. Girlfriend caught our vic in bed with his wife. Wife's still in critical, but the girlfriend copped a plea."

"Robbins said she - uh - pulled a Bobbitt?" Greg looked slightly queasy when he asked this, and Sara laughed.

"Bobbitt? She took the whole damn thing."

* * * * *

Grissom took a drag from his beer bottle, trying to feign interest in the conversation the boys were engaged in. Warrick and Nick had been openly admiring a couple of the pool tables in the middle of the room, and were trying to get the girls to play against them.

Nick was grinning engagingly at them, his puppy dog eyes pleading. "Come on. Cath? Sara? It's just a stick and some little balls - what's to be scared of?"

Beside him, Greg mock warned - "He says that to all the girls, don't fall for it!"

Grissom snorted, and Catherine cheerfully walloped him on the back. Nick hit Greg rather sharply in the ribs with his elbow, but he took the teasing in general good humor.

Warrick sized Sara up, before returning to the conversation at hand. "You're afraid you're going to lose. That's why you don't want to play. Never pegged you as a chicken, Sidle."

Sara bristled. "Okay. Cath, we can take them. What's the wager?"

Grissom groaned. He knew that look. They'd be there for hours - Sara wouldn't let anyone leave until she'd won.

"No wager. Just a friendly game of pool," Warrick held up his hands, palms outward as if he was making a peace offering. "We don't want to take your money, right Nick?"

"Who says it has to be money?" Sara's eyes were traveling around the bar, lighting when they fell again on the small stage. "If Cath and I win, you and Nick have to perform a duet when the Karaoke starts - if you win, Cath and I sing. Greg gets to choose the songs, since it's his birthday. Deal?"

Nick grinned. "Greg, would you make the girls sing 'Voulez-vous couchez avec moi' - and "Sex and Candy' - I'll do it if that's what you make them sing!"

"Two songs, Nicky?" Catherine yelped.

Nick just grinned, "There's two of you, aren't there?"

Greg rolled his eyes, before turning to grin at Sara. "This could be fun."

* * * * *

"Sara, if I end up having to sing, I'm going to kill you," Catherine hissed under her breath, her eyes snapping angrily as the group moved from their booth to an available pool table.

"We won't lose," Sara whispered back, "Trust me on this."

Greg took another sip of his beer, "Do you guys know how to play?"

Catherine sighed, "I've played some. Not a lot."

"How hard can it be?" Sara shrugged, "It's just a stick and some little balls, right Nicky?"

"Hardy-hardy-har, Sara. So, the game is Eight Ball. We'll toss a coin to see who breaks first. Shall we play a game first, so you girls can get the hand of it?" Nick smiled at Sara and Catherine, chalking his cue as Warrick racked the balls.

"That's sweet of you, Nicky. So, how do we do this?" Sara's tone was sweet as sugar, and she sauntered up to the table and grabbed the stick from his hand. "Since we're girls, do we get to break first?"

"Sure thing, Sar. Although, considering how ultra fem-bot you are most of the time, I'm surprised you'd ask that."

"Never piss off a girl with cue. My eyesight is 20/20, and I'm sure I could shove this pretty far without missing."

Greg grinned at Grissom, "She's such a sweet talker."

"Yo, Sara. Hurry up and break, will you." Warrick had moved around to stand beside Catherine, who was nervously wringing her hands.

Sara nodded at him absently. "Okay. So, how do I do this."

Catherine groaned. Nick and Warrick grinned at each other.

"It's not our job to show you how to hold a cue, Sara," Warrick's tone was chiding, "that's not part of the deal."

When Sara glanced at Catherine, she shrugged and frowned. "Don't ask me, the last time I played pool I almost emasculated Eddie."

Warrick winced. "I know who I'm not standing behind when she shoots."

Greg started laughing, "I'm not going to show you. I'm looking forward to your performance later."

"I'll show you." Grissom's offer caused Sara to blink and everyone else to gape at him with various expressions of surprise.

"You play pool?" Nick's tone was incredulous.

Grissom shrugged, "When I was younger." He approached Sara and took the cue from her. "Hold it like this. You want to aim the white ball - use it to sink the others. Keep the tip of the cue steady, and slid it like this. I normally slid it between my knuckles, but I've got large hands. You might want to looping a finger and shooting through it." He demonstrated easily, cleanly breaking the balls. "You're turn."

Sara took the cue from him, holding it the way he had shown her, bending awkwardly over the table. The tip of her tongue stuck out slightly from the corner of her mouth, and she creased her brows in concentration.

Grissom watched, half smiling as she licked her lips. "Like this?" It took him a few moments to register she was looking at him in amusement, waiting for an answer. "Grissom, like this?"

"Don't choke up on the cue so much."

"Huh?" Sara played dumb.

"You're grip - it's too high."

Sara adjusted her grip, and bent over the table once again, tongue peaking from the corner of her mouth. Grissom, once again, was caught staring.

"Griss - do you realize you have a serious oral fixation?" The teasing tone of Greg's voice made him jump. He shot the young man a flustered glare, but failed to respond, instead turning back towards Sara just in time to watch her take a wild first shot.

"Dammit!"

Nick and Warrick started to laugh. "This is the easiest bet we'll ever win, bro," Warrick gloated as he and Nick high-fived each other.

Sara looked at Grissom in frustration. "Show me again."

"Show her Grissom," Catherine seconded. "Hands on."

Grissom stepped towards Sara, trying to control the sudden pounding of his heart. Stepping in behind her, he wrapped his arms loosely around her, one hand sliding over hers and adjusting her grip on the cue, the other bracing her hand for the tip.

Sara was very tall, and Grissom could smell the lemony scent of her hair as he murmured in her ear, "Like this." The length of her back pressed into his chest as he leaned with her, drawing her arm back with his own before pushing forward and bending at the waist.

He heard Sara's slightly indrawn breath as he felt her firm bottom press backward in to him, and knew she had heard his soft gasp as well. This was getting out of hand.

"One more time, and I think I'll have it," she whispered throatily, as they slowly stood. Grissom sighed.

"Okay. Hold it like this. Aim it like this. Shoot it like this." She could feel the deep vibration of his voice through her back, the husky timbre of his voice in her ear, and she smiled. Not only was she going to beat Warrick and Nick, but she had Grissom right where she wanted him as well.

"Not so much from the hip when you shoot. You're not a gun-slinger." Grissom released her and stepped back, hoping no one else noticed the slight trembling in his hands. "No, try without me."

Sara nodded, bent at the waist, anchored the tip and smiled when the white ball made a satisfying THWACK against another ball. "Okay," she grinned, "let's rock and roll!"

"Are we doing a practice round first?" Nick grinned.

"No," said Sara. "I'm ready. So, do I get to break first?"

Warrick quickly re-racked the balls. "Don't worry if you don't sink any off the break," he smiled. "It's hard to do until you get used to it."

Sara smiled. "Don't worry, I won't take it to heart." Setting the white ball where Nick indicated, she bent down and made her first shot. Her movements were so quick, the sound the white ball made against the other balls as they broke so loud, it took everyone a moment to register she'd sunk four balls off the break - two solids and two stripes.

She grinned at their shocked expressions, before turning to study the table intently, chalking up her cue as she ambled past Nick and tapping a hand gently against his cheek.

"I guess we'll take solids. I see a couple of better shots with them. We calling our balls, Nicky, or can I just shoot?"

Nick stared at her in dismay, "You've played before."

"Sure have. Pool's a game all about angles, Nicky - 5 ball, corner left - and I understand angles. 4 ball bank, into 6 ball, both balls right top corner. I'm the girl who's always got her angles covered - 2 ball, side right - and, if you don't know that by now, you don't know me at all. Last ball, bottom left corner." She grinned as she eyed the 8 ball - the only ball standing between her and victory.

"Oh - and did I fail to mention, I hustled pool in university. 8 ball, left side. Close your mouth, Nicky. You're catching flies."

"And that episode, getting Grissom to show you how to hold a cue?"

"Just yanking your chain, Nicky, just yanking your chain."

Catherine was grinning as she quickly walked over to Sara and gave her a quick hug, whispering in her ear, "More like, yanking Grissom's chain."

Sara snorted at this, and glanced nervously around to make sure no one else had heard Catherine. Warrick and Nick were still looking at her in dismay, Greg was grinning manically and Grissom was - staring at her, his blue eyes piercing.

She shivered when she remembered the feel of his arms around her, his chest against her, as he demonstrated the proper way to hold a cue. Before she could stop herself, she winked at Grissom. She almost died of shock when he winked back.

"So, Sara. What song are you going to get Nick and Warrick to perform?"

Sara smiled at Greg in distraction, her gaze barely leaving Grissom's. "We'll think of something, right Cath?"

* * * * *

Catherine, Sara, Grissom and Greg had moved from the pool table to a small table closer to the stage. Standing off to the side, Warrick and Nick were scowling at them, but Sara merely smiled and gave them a quick thumbs up.

"Remind me never to get on your bad side, Sara," Greg teased, as the MC took the stage to kick off Karaoke Hour, "'cuz you are unusually cruel."

Catherine started laughing. "Hey Greggo, leave her alone. They're the ones that wanted to do sing together!"

Grissom merely cocked an eyebrow in amusement. "Will you guys shut up. I don't want to miss this."

"Welcome to Karaoke Hour at the Purple Pony. Not a lot of contenders tonight, so we thought we'd kick off with what promises to be a fun duet. Let's have a hand for Warrick Brown and Nick Stokes."

The two men slumped to the stage amidst loud cheering and much applause, punctuated by a few raucous whistles from Greg. Sara started giggling, "This is gonna by so good!"

"Warrick and Nick are criminalists with the LVPD. So guys, what brings you to our stage tonight?"

"We lost a bet," Nick muttered into the microphone.

"Big time." Warrick concurred.

The MC smiled - "And that's how many people start out singing karaoke!" Much laughter from the audience. "So guys, what songs will you be singing tonight? I understand the first is a 70s' chestnut, and the second is a lovely duet from that great 80s movie, 'Dirty Dancing'."

Both men grunted and glared at their friends through the spotlights blinding them. Nick grumbled, "You'll pay Sidle," as the MC handed them each a microphone.

"The first song we're being forced to sing is Captain and Tenille's 'Muskrat Love'," Warrick announced. "I'm the Captain."

"Which means, I'm Tenille," Nick muttered. "Can we just get this over with?"

Greg was laughing so hard, he was crying, and they hadn't even started yet. The cheesy synth strains of 'Muskrat Love' had set him off.

Warrick and Nick started singing:

"Muskrat, muskrat candlelight

Doin' the town and doin' it right

In the evenin'

It's pretty pleasin'

Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam

Do the jitterbug out in muskrat land

And they shimmy

And Sammy's so skinny

And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed

Singin' and jingin' the jango

Floatin' like the heavens above

It looks like muskrat love

Nibbling on bacon, chewin' on cheese

Sammy says to Susie "Honey, would you please

be my missus?"

And she says yes

With her kisses

And now he's ticklin' her fancy

Rubbin' her toes

Muzzle to muzzle, now anything goes

As they wriggle, and Sue starts to giggle

And they whirled and they twirled and they tangoed

Singin' and jingin' the jango

Floatin' like the heavens above

It looks like muskrat love

Floatin' like the heavens above

It looks like muskrat love"



"They can actually sing!" Catherine managed to squeal through her laughter. "I can't believe it!"

Sara and Greg where standing at the table, whistling and stamping their feet. Even Grissom was laughing.

As the first song finished, Nick lifted the microphone and begged, "Please girls. Wasn't one song good enough?"

"No way!" Sara and Catherine hollered back, laughing.

The MC interrupted, "I'm cueing up your next song, guys. Introduce it."

"Yeah. Right. Next song is "Love is Strange", by Mickey and Sylvia." Warrick's voice was resigned. "I'm Mickey."

"And I'm Sylvia." Nick's voice was morose.



"Love, love is strange

Lot of people take it for a game

Once you get it

You'll never wanna quit (no, no)

After you've had it (yeah, yeah)

You're in an awful fix

Many people

Don't understand (no, no)

They think loving (yeah, yeah)

Is money in the hand

Your sweet loving Is better than a kiss

When you leave me

Sweet kisses I miss

WARRICK:

Silvia...

NICK:

Yes Mickey?

WARRICK:

How do you call your loverboy?

NICK:

Come 'ere loverboy!!

WARRICK:

And if he doesnt answer?

NICK:

Ohh loverboy!

WARRICK:

And if he STILL doesnt answer?

NICK:

I simply say Baby,

Oohh baby

My sweet baby

You're the one

TOGETHER:

Baby,

Oohh baby

My sweet baby

You're the one"



The men were off the stage before the last note had faded, barely pausing to acknowledge the loud whistles and laughter surrounding them.

Greg was practically on the floor, laughing so hard he was close to hyperventilating. "That. Was. The. Best. Birthday. Present. Ever!" he managed to choke out.

"Good job, guys!" Grissom smiled.

"That was not fun!" Nick growled, but he smiled when he saw the happy expressions on his friends' faces. He was not a person who could stay angry for long, and he enjoyed a good joke - even at his own expense.

"I'm never making a bet again," Warrick muttered wryly. "Thanks Sara. You cured me."

"De Nada!" Sara waved a hand genially at the two men, quickly hugging them both. "You guys were awesome."

"Terrific!" Catherine agreed.

"I'm going to start calling you Sylvia around the office."

Nick punched Greg in the arm, "If you do, you're a dead man."

"Yeah, but it would be worth it!"

* * * * *

"So. You're a hustler."

Sara gaped at Grissom. He had offered to drive her home, and she had gladly accepted. Now, comfortably ensconced in the front seat of is Tahoe, his teasing words were the last thing she had expected.

"Pardon me?"

"You. Are. A. Hustler." Grissom shot her a sideways glance, deliberately drawing each word out.

"No. I'm a physics geek."

Grissom grinned. "A physics geek who hustles."

Sara rolled her eyes, "You make it sound so dirty," she teased.

"I like a good hustler as much as the next man," Grissom responded mildly.

"Huh?" Sara was shocked. "Are we talking about pool here, or dirty girly magazines."

Grissom smiled, "You tell me. This is your place, right?" Sara nodded, and Grissom pulled into an empty parking spot. "I'll walk you up. So, Sara, what was all that with the pool cue?"

Sara shrugged, "I wanted to instill in the guys a false sense of confidence. Here's my door." She turned and smiled at Grissom, reaching for her keys. He was staring at her intently, and she paused her movement, her eyes widening slightly as the sudden gleam in his.

Slowly, more slowly then she thought she could stand, he reached up and cupped her cheek gently with his right hand, running his thumb in a subtle caress over her cheek bone. Her breath hitched in her throat as he pulled his hand away.

"What was that?"

"Chalk."

She smiled at that, reaching out and grabbing the hand that had just recently stroked her face, bringing it eye level and studying the palm and thumb intently.

"Cue chalk is blue. I see no chalk," she stepped closer to Grissom, her voice husky, and drew his hand back to her face. "Must have missed it."

"Must have imagined it," Grissom murmured in response. Neither said anything for a moment, both enjoying the light touch of his hand on her face. Finally, Grissom reached out with his other hand and took her keys.

"I've never seen your apartment."

"Then by all means, come on in."

___________

Author's Note: I love pool. So many innuendos one can make, so little time! This is a response to a challenge posted at www.sinceimetyou.com - if you've never been, check it out! It's the best overall CSI site out there, and especially great for all the G/S 'shippers!