This is the Greg Sanders Slash (Yahoo Group) Round Robin, so each chapter is written by a different author.
Sajin- Chapters 1 and 8.
Perpetual Motion- Chapter 2. and 14.
Tara- Chapters 3 and 9.
Sam- Chapters 4. and 10.
Morrolan- Chapters 5. and 11.
Marina- Chapters 6. and 12.
Heather- Chapters 7. and 13.
Greg Sanders Slash Round Robin Chapter 1 by Sajin
The scene was a mess that no one could have believed once they got there. The first body was a young man in his late 20’s, with spiky blond hair and his face had a smile on it to chill the soul considering how the rest of the body looked. He had been found naked and in the arms of a second male.
The second body was Black haired somewhat older than the first. Mid to late 30’s. He had short black hair and he was naked as well. But his face was in total shock and pain. The bodies were placed together like lovers, arm in arm.
In recent weeks the team have found pairs of bodies much the same way dropped in different locations around Vegas. But where they had been found wasn’t the primary crime scene. And now Grissom was getting fed up with the lack of evidence for the case.
“Does anyone see the similarities with the two bodies again this time.?” questioned Grissom to his team.
“Yeah they look the same except this time it is Nick who is in pain not Greg. Last time it was the other way around” answered Warrick with as sigh as he photographed the scene in detail with one to one’s.
“The cuts are the same clean and clear and the missing genitalia is the same too. Who is this sick-o and what does he have against Nick and Greg?” asked Sara examining the bodies again.
Grissom got on his phone and called Brass “Jim have you found them yet?”
“Yeah and no. I found the school but they have gone out on an overnight field trip away from the school to test their skills.” called Brass as he was looked around the Riding school.
“Let me guess they are out riding in the hills and it is an open site with just sleeping bags and the horses for company and the riders right?” sighed Gil as he looked at the surroundings himself.
“Yeah, how did you guess” as if he didn’t know already sounded Jim on his end.
“Just where the killer dropped the bodies all. Thanks Jim” as Gil cut the connection with frustration.
He again looked at the scene before him an open park in Vegas that had horse statues around it with moonlight shining down on them from the heavens above.
“Well did Jim find them at the school?” Catherine asked as she stood by Gil.
“No they are out on a school trip tonight camping in the open range someplace with just the instructors and a the horses. Does that seem familiar to you here too?” snapped Gil with uncustomary loudness.
“Take away the park and think open range and yes it does look quite familiar. Did you have Brass go find them?” sighed Catherine.
“No because only the instructor knows exactly what route they took there are many place they could be within the set area for the exercise. I will be at the school in the morning to get them myself though” announced Gil.
He walked back to the bodies and began looking at them again and thinking how clean and sterile the wounds were to the men. He used his flashlight to look more closely at the missing pubic region. Not trying to think of what he was looking at. He then saw something on the blonde’s body that shouldn’t be there.
He gathered up a pair of tweezers from his kit and took a small black hair from the hip area. The hair didn’t match the color on the black haired body at first glance and it had a slightly Grey tinge to it.
Hopefully there will be a follicle on the end for a dna match.
“Is everyone done here so David can take the bodies back to the lab?” asked Grissom to his team.
“Yes” came the unanimous response from everyone.
Interlude the open range at night
Greg was thinking how beautiful the night sky was and how much his butt was aching from the long ride today. He shifted position so that he was closer to Nick’s hard and hairy chest. Nick sighed and kissed the back of Greg’s neck and snuggled them closer together in the sleeping bag.
“Nick, make love to me again it is so peaceful out here and your already hard again you Stud” moaned Greg as he rubbed up against Nick’s hard dick.
“What you are kidding right that will be three times tonight I can’t believe you the fresh air must do something to you. We should come out here more often now that you can ride better.” Laughed Nick.
Then he shifted Greg on to his back and slid his own hard body on top of Greg.
They began to kiss with the passion of two men in total love with each other. Greg opened his legs and Nick slid into position and slowly entered his lover. Nick quickly kissed Greg to stop him from screaming out too loud. There were other campers around them and they didn’t want to make too much noise.
Nick slowly began to make love to Greg feeling his dick slide in and out of Greg’s ass with ease. There earlier lovemaking had lubed him up good enough. Nick began to kiss Greg’s shoulder and neck and the sensitive place behind his earlobe that Greg liked so head. He also missed his wallet being taken from the pocket of his backpack. much.
Nick increased his movements in Greg’s ass because he heard movement around the campsite and didn’t want to disturb the other campers too much.
Greg moaned into Nick’s shoulder as they climaxed together.
“Thank you” smiled Greg as they fell asleep together in each other’s arms.
Up on the hill away from the campsite a standing figure smiled while looking through binoculars down at the sleeping duo. Imagining what they would find out in the morning when they went back to the school.
He laughed silently and the moon shone a little bit on the top of his slightly balding head.
Chapter Two By Perpetual Motion
Warrick looked at the baggies of evidence he had collected at the scene and sighed in frustration. "You know what we need right now?"
Sara didn't look up from where she was going over the clothes from the victims. "Nick to help us with this and Greg in the lab?"
Sara grinned a little. "Damn them and their big gay love."
Warrick laughed. "I'm going to tell them you said that."
Gil walked into the room. "Anything?"
"We've been here ten minutes, Gris." Warrick watched Gil's eyebrows go up. "We're working on it."
"Work faster." Gil turned away and walked down the hall to the trace lab. He dropped off three baggies without a word and continued down to autopsy. He found Al and David settling the bodies on side-by-side autopsy tables. "Anything, yet?"
"We just got them out of the bags."
Gil nodded. "Okay." He counted to ten in his head. "Anything, yet?"
Al rolled his eyes. "I have a five-year-old niece with more patience than you."
"Your five-year-old niece doesn't have a string of dead bodies that look like two people she works with."
"And may she never." Al walked over to the dark haired body and gave it a once-over. "First impression is that the wound is the same as the others. Looks like one continuous cut around the genitals with a very sharp object. Maybe a scapel."
"You've been giving me maybes since this started, Al."
"Because I don't have a weapon to name with certainty." Al shrugged. "If you could get this guy to drop his weapon and leave it for comparison, It'd be a big help."
Gil's mouth quirked up in a wry smile. "I'll make a note." He turned to leave. "Page me." He left Autopsy and ran into Catherine in the hallway. "Anything?"
She shook her head. "Not yet. I just ran into Sara, she said their wallets are missing, same as the rest, so we're nameless again. Anything from Al yet?"
"All he can say right now is that the wounds look the same."
"We're up to ten bodies with no names to go with them that all look like Greg and Nick." Catherine glanced over at Gil. "And Greg and Nick are wandering in the wilderness somewhere playing cowboy."
"I know." Gil stopped at the door to his office. "We have to find something conclusive. There's always evidence."
Catherine didn't point out that they'd had a massive lack of evidence so far. She just nodded and headed to the labs.
Nick woke up in the wee hours and shivered in the air. He reached for the sleeping bag and pulled it over his head, pulling Greg a little closer as he did so. Greg muttered something that sounded like 'fig newtons' and settled back down. Nick smiled as he drifted back to sleep and didn't hear the footsteps that stopped just inches from his head. He also missed his wallet being taken from the pocket of his backpack.
Chapter 3 by Tara
"Tell me again how you talked me into this?" Greg asked as he rocked in the saddle. He whistled at his horse again, trying to get it moving. Nick just sat there laughing his ass off at Greg's stuborn mount. "I thought Lucy was supposed to be perfect for begining riders. I swear, she's more stubborn the Sara!"
"You know, I'd help you but I'm admiring the view," Nick said as he watched Greg twist and swivel in the saddle. He adjusted himself in the saddle as he felt the familure stirings in his groin. Greg flipped him the bird making Nick laugh even harder.
"Damn it, horse. Giyyup!" Greg twisted around in his saddle, slapping the horse hard as he dug his heels into its side. Naturally, the horse spooked, tearing off into the desert at a fast clip. In his surprise, Greg dropped the laces and hung onto the pommel for dear life.
Nick's eyes widened in fear before spurring up his own mount to go after Greg.
Greg moved with the rhythm of the horse, just like Nick taught him. His legs holding around the barrel of the horse in a death grip as his fingers dug into the saddle's pommel. It still didn't calm the sickening fear as he watched the ground disappear quickly beneath the running horse's feet. Looking ahead, he couldn't squelch his scream of fear as he saw a wash up ahead with steep sides. He bearly got out an "oh shit" before the horse jumped into the deep wash, throwing Greg forward. The pommel struck his stomic, forcing all his air out and Greg didn't have a chance to suck it back in before he felt himself falling through the air.
Nick stopped his mount, not giving a second thought to the other horse running off into the distance. His eyes were focused only on Greg and the bright streak of crimson on the rocks. Greg, his sweet lab boy unmoving.
"Ohshitohshitohshit, Greggo, honey, sweety, please wake up?" Nick patted Greg down, looking for obvious broken bones. He pressed an ear to Greg's chest, hearing his heart beating but not feeling any breath. "Baby, I need you to wake up and breath for me. Please wake up, honey, you just gotta wake up."
Greg gave a shuddering gasp, his eye lashes fluttering. Nick cried out in relief, holding onto Greg's head, brushing back the wild blonde hair and not giving the man a chance to move around too much. Greg groaned something about a truck as he brought a hand up to his aching head.
"Don't move around, baby, you could have broken something."
"Only my pride. OW! And maybe my head," Greg tried to sit up but the desert took a wrong turn and he could feel himself falling again. Nick's strong arms felt so good around him as the older man lowered him back to the ground.
Pulling out his hankerchief (His mama taught him to always have a nice white hanky for the ladies, just like a good southern boy.) and pressing it against Greg's head wound.
"Greg, I need you to look at me." Nick watched Greg's eyes, watching them slowly contract and focus on him. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Quit moving them," Greg reached out, grabbing hold of Nick's wrist. "Three fingers but you have two right arms."
Nick swore. He had to get Greg back to the ranch quickly. He looked around, seeing that his horse was obediently standing by but Lucy was nowhere to be seen. Of course, the rest of the ride-out tour was long gone. Since Nick had once been a cattle hand and tour guide back in Texes, the group leader had no problem with Nick taking Greg along the scenic route. The whole group had teased that the two love birds needed some privacy before heading out.
"Babe, I need you to hold this while I get the first aid kit. Put lots of pressure on it for me," Nick guided Greg's other hand up to his head, pausing when the young man whistled in pain and held onto his side. "Damn, you may have cracked some ribs when you fell."
Pawing through his saddle bags, he got out the first aid kit and the radio. Nick squelched the radio, knowing that whoever was listening would perk up, if only to get back on to yell at him for squelching it. "Mayday, mayday, anyone who can hear please respond." Nick waited a beat, letting anyone in the area confirm. "Mayday, mayday. I have a rider down. I need emergency help, please."
Nick helped Greg sit up carefully, handing the radio over and having him go through the channels to keep him distracted. The older man pulled out gauze and wraps out of the med kit and started wrapping. He was thankful to note that the headwound wasn't bleeding anymore and that Greg didn't have obvious signs of a concussion. Of course he wouldn't rest easy until they were back.
"Damn it," Greg threw the radio aside, frustrated at only getting static. "I knew we shouldn't have seperated from the group. We could have been back by now, rubbing lotion on our saddle sores."
"You certainly seem to be in a good mood."
"Have to be, I'm trying to not think about the train running through my head and the fact that I now have two boyfriends. Of course, they're both cute. A little kinky but I think I could give it a swing."
Nick couldn't hold back his sideways smile at Greg's comment. Upon seeing this, Greg couldn't help but reach out to pull Nick to him for a kiss. Of course his hand smacked against a cheek harder then he intended. A muttered, "wrong one" and Greg pulled Nick into a sloppy kiss.
After some time and juggling, Nick got Greg to his feet and eventually behind him on the horse. Greg held on tightly with only his will keeping breakfast down. Nick clicked his tounge and prompted the horse forward.
"Next vacation, we're going surfing. Much safer. Much, much safer." Greg babbled on, much to Nick's great relief as he talked about their next vacation. Campouts on the beach. Clam bakes with lots of beer. No horses.
The man with the binoculars watched on. A plan already forming in his mind. It might be a bit quick and dirty, but this opurtunity was not to be passed by.
"Ok, Hodges, what do you have for me?"
"Good news and bad news. Good news is we got a match in CODIS on the hair you found," Hodges handed over the DNA print sheet.
"Bad news is; is that it's my hair," Grissom slammed his hand down onto the countertop. "Damn it, crime scene contamination or another clue left by our serial killer?"
Catherine, who had been on Grissom's heel, took the sheet from him and examined it closely. "Clue I'll bet. The fact that you were at the crime scene is just co-incidence."
"Still, I was at the crime scene," Gil pointed out.
"Yes, we all were, still doesn't negate the earlier clues left by our killer. Sara's broken nail on pair #2, Warrick's epifilieals on the cord used to tie pair #4's hands together, and my blood on pair #3. It was your turn, hair on pair #5. That leaves Nick and Greg with a possible Brass to turn up. You know, this guy is starting to creep me out."
"Only starting? We're living in a fish bowl to this guy. He knows our methodology, he knows what we're looking for and he leaves it behind in the form of us. All the evidence is pointing to us, that we're the ones that kill the Nicks & Gregs and I don't like that one bit."
Carefully he pulled the blood spattered rocks out of the numbered envelopes, placing them inside the shoe box like container, arranging them according to his notes. The largest one he unwrapped from the cellophane, a look of glee as he saw the blond hairs and matted blood. With a pair of tweesers, he extracted one strand, quickly taping it to a card.
Once the rocks he'd collected from the desert were inside, he closed the lid and opened up his special freezer. Inside a number of other boxes, viles, and containers sat on the shelves, clearly color coded and numbered.
His fingers brushed reverently over the boxes, amazed at what they contained. Hair and fingernails from all of them. Left over blood and urine from Cathrine proving she wasn't pregnant again. (Wouldn't Gil just love that! Using the DNA lab for her own purposes once again.) Used condoms from the cleaner's closet for Nick, Greg and Warrick. Half sucked cough drops and candies from Sara, covered in her saliva and a couple chunky Kleenex's from her last bought of the flu. (Which was so gross.)
And his pei-de-resistance', a carving knife handled by one and all at the birthday party for Luise earlier that week. Fingerprints visible on the sticky handle. Frosting fingerprints that linked them together, into the group that they were.
Little pieces of them, parts of themselves left behind. Clues which had no home.
Round Robin Chapter 4 by Sam
"Grissom, so help me god, if you ask me one more time..."
Coming up beside her, Gil offered the redhead a wry grimace by way of apology. She hadn't stopped walking, not even to break stride. "So I guess this is a bad time to ask what you might have for me?"
Pushing open the glass door to Trace, Willows graced him with a look that would have made her daughter proud. "Ah, yeah."
Grissom stopped at the door but didn't enter, calling after her, "Just checking." Biting a lip in clear vexation, the older CSI tapped the folder he held against his palm and abruptly retraced his steps. Maybe Robbins would agree to act as a sounding board for a theory of his.
Just like old times.
They had switched positions a while back, Nick wanting Greg up in front of him so he could keep an eye on the dozing tech. The reversal also served to give Greg's ribs the added support in the slight bulk of Nick's chest as a back rest; his arms braced under Greg's balanced out his weight as he held the reins out in front.
It was getting late. The radio still didn't have a clear signal the last time they stopped and Nick needed to make sure Greg wasn't truly concussed. While he had sounded ok earlier and Nick had made an effort to keep him talking, the blurry vision still worried him. A lot.
Time to make camp.
"Hey, Greggo, rise and shine." He kept his voice cheerful as he brought Gerty to a stop. This should do, a couple of trees fading into a forest line off to the right, shallow stream to try for a bit of fresh water and a good bit of dead fall; hopefully, with a little bit of luck they could get a fire going. It wasn't looking so good for getting back to the school before night fell and it was already getting a little chilly.
The only response he got was an irritated ˜urumph" though Greg did slip down Gerty's saddle to stand, albeit a bit weakly, holding on to the stirrup.
"Where's the bed?" Greg asked, speech a little heavy but clear. "I could sleep for a week."
"Bed's here for the night I'm afraid. We won't make it back before dark and I don't want to risk the horse breaking a leg and going down just to make a little time. We're not close enough." Greg sat on a nearby rock, head in hand and Nick knelt down to see his face. Greg's eyes were shut, his breathing a bit labored and he shivered in the cooling air. Unable to stop the gesture, Nick slid a palm over his cheek, cupping the side of his face, thumb brushing lightly. "The tent galloped off with Lucy, but we still have the sleeping bags. Tell you what - I'll go find some wood to make a fire, why don't you try the radio again, see if we can't get out a mayday. And I want to take another look at you before you sack out, ok?"
Brown eyes opened and the gaze was dull but steady. "Yeah, ok." Noting the concern darkening the searching gaze to black, he covered the hand with his, offering his concerned lover a squeeze. "I'm fine, Nick."
"You'd better be. You come back hurt and Grissom's gonna have my hide,"
Nick told him. That earned him a grin so he added as an afterthought, "For a rug."
"Not enough of you to make a rug," Greg countered, sounding a bit like his old self. Until a chill wind caused him to close his eyes again and shiver. "Wood's nice. Fire's nicer, you think?"
"Yeah, be right back."
Watching his lover move off to stoop and gather wood for the fire (a very fine view in faded blue denim if he did say so himself) Greg heaved himself from his rock to rummage in Nick's pack for the radio. Gerty wasn't going anywhere.
His head hurt, his ribs hurt and he really wasn't looking forward to sleeping on the cold, hard ground tonight. Eying the semi-grassy area, Greg privately figured Nick would have them sleeping here tonight. There was a little slope to the ground to his left; it wasn't flat but it was covered in a thin layer of moss and grass, making it a little softer than the rocky ground. Double up the sleeping bags and pull the blankets over them and they could make due.
It would give him another reason to snuggle with his lover (not that he needed one) and the thought of lying curled up in those strong arms was sounding *really* good about now.
After a few minutes of useless calling into the radio mike and scanning channels filled with nothing but static, Greg gave up and replaced the gear. Not knowing much about camping but knowing Nick would need a clear patch of ground in order to make the fire, Greg set about making himself useful, clearing out a rough circle and using the transplanted rocks as a border. Then he sat down to wait, realizing the sun had been steadily setting in orange, reds and golds as he worked.
And that Nick was nowhere in sight.
"Hey Grissom, where you going?"
"To drag our wayward colleagues home, kicking and screaming." The dry note to Grissom's observation was overlaid by the look Gil gave Brass from over the wire rims of his glasses. "Care to come along?"
"You think they'll be there this time?"
"They should. The lead instructor told you Nick and Greg's group were scheduled back in the morning, didn't he?"
"Well then I aim to be there when they ride in to drag them home by the ears like the errant little boys that they are."
There no mistaking the frustration, nor the grim intent being masked by an attempt at Grissom humor. The older CSI was worried and Jim couldn't blame him. They hadn't collected much by way of evidence but what they had only came back to point a mocking finger at the forensic night shift. Catherine's blood, Gil's hair, Warrick's prints. No foreign dna, nothing at all that even hinted as to the identity of their killer. Same as the other four crime scenes, all other leads had gone cold.
Gil hated to feel like the answers to the puzzle were eluding him, especially this one. But they were. More importantly, the evidence itself was letting him down and that was just pissing Grissom off.
Still, getting his mind off it for while would be nothing but good and if there was one thing Brass knew, it was how to turn Grissom's focus around and give that frustration an outlet. "You're going to make sure they're both safe and sound and all in one piece you mean."
Gil glared at his long time friend a moment before relenting, but only slightly. And the glare remained. Brass knew him too well. "That, too." By this time they had reached the parking lot. The moon was still up but waning and there were a few stars out tonight. If they left now, they would be at the school by a little after dawn in the morning. "You coming?"
Still a little sharp, the words were a challenge but Jim only grinned. "Wouldn't miss it."
"Good. Get in, I'm driving."
Chapter 5 by Morrolan
Greg was getting worried. The sun had been down for nearly half an hour and Nick was still not back. Gathering wood for a fire did not take that long. He had tried the radio several more times but it was still just static. Suddenly he heard a rustling in the bushes. "Nick? Nick! Is that you?" Greg waited several minutes but he didn't receive any reply. "Nicky where are you?"
"Hey Cath, have you seen Gris?"
"Nope, sorry Warr. I haven't seen him since the last time he came looking to see if I had found anything."
"About that." Warrick asked with a slight smile.
"Not you too!" Catherine glared at him. "I haven't found anything and if you see Grissom you tell him that. And don't bother me again. I'll page Grissom when I'm done, and he can tell you."
"Yes ma'am." Warrick smiled at her. Then he squeezed her shoulder. "Hey, I'm just worried is all. All these vics looking so much like well you know who."
"Yeah, I know, and I'm worried too. None of this makes any sense. Normally when you have a scene like those there is just so much more evidence. This killer is just it's creepy. He or she seems to know so much about how we work. What we look for. There hasn't been a single slipup as far as I can see. It's all to perfect." Catherine gave a small shudder at that. "And the evidence we have found The killer has to be someone we know. And that frightens me."
"Yeah Cath, it frightens me too." And Warrick pulled her into his arms, rocking her gently back and forth.
Grissom and Brass pulled into the parking lot in front of the main building for the riding school.
"God, please let them be back." Brass mumbled.
"The people I talked to said that the group they are with are due back today. They should be here."
"I hope so."
"As do I, as do I."
"Oh god Nicky where are you!?!" Greg was sitting, shivering in the clearing where Nick had left him over an hour ago. CRACK! Greg's head snapped to left where the sound had come from, a bolt of pain shot down his back and across his chest. He pulled the sleeping back tighter around his shoulders. "Nicky? Nicky is that you?" He pointed the flashlight in the direction the sound had come from. Nothing was there. "I hate the woods! I hate horses!" he yelled. "Nicky if you are out there and you can hear me, we are never, ever doing this again! No more going out in the woods with just the two of us!" Greg curled up into the fetal position and started sobbing quietly. "Nicky, Nicky oh god, I'm so tired, so sore. Nicky I need you so bad."
"What do you mean they went off by themselves?!" Grissom nearly yelled.
"Just that Mr. Grissom. Nick knows these trails pretty well and he's an experienced rider, so when he wanted to go off with just him and Greg I didn't see any problem with it. They have the radio so if they run into any trouble they can call for help."
"We need them back now!"
Just then Grissom's phone rang.
"Grissom," he answered it.
"Gris, its Catherine. Have you found them yet?"
"No, the instructor and the rest of the group are back but they say that Nick and Greg went off alone. A longer trail. They should be back by tomorrow. I've told the instructor that they need to be found tonight but he said that it's to dark to take the horses out now, and the trail they are one isn't meant for motor vehicles to narrow, to many trees, something like that. He's going to try to reach them on the radio."
"Grissom we have another scene. It's pretty bad."
Grissom nearly dropped the phone.
Greg had gotten over his crying jag and he was trying the radio again.
"Mayday, mayday. Anyone out there? Mayday!"
Finally he got an answer.
"We read you loud and clear rider. What is the problem?"
He was so relieved to hear another voice that he nearly broke down.
"We were on the way back to the school, I fell off my horse. We needed to make camp for the night it was getting too dark. Nicky went to get firewood, he isn't back yet! He isn't back!"
"Calm down rider. Is this Greg Sanders?"
"Yes! Oh god, Nicky isn't back yet. He isn't back yet. He just went to get firewood. Why isn't he back yet?"
"Greg, I need you to take a deep breath, then slowly tell me what happened from just before you fell off your horse till now."
And Greg began explaining.
"Talk to me Catherine."
"Two more vics, this time the one that looks like Greg is in pain and the one that looks like Nick has the smile. Only this time Gris, there is blood and hair that belong to neither vic..."
"What aren't you telling me?"
"Both samples match Greg. And we found something else."
"A wallet. Nick's wallet to be exact. I think our killer is getting pretty close to making his final move."
Just then another instructor came running up to Grissom.
"Mr. Grissom! Mr. Grissom!"
"Excuse me a minute Catherine." Grissom turned to the instructor, Brass walked forward from where he had been sitting.
"Mr. Grissom. Sanders is on the radio now. We are going to have to send out a search and rescue party."
"A rescue party? What happened?"
"It seems that Mr. Sanders fell off his horse and it ran off, they were making their way back to base and it started getting dark. Nick decided to stop for the night, he didn't want to risk Gerty, the horse they had left, breaking a leg. Sanders said that Nick went to look for firewood because it was getting chilly. He said that Nick has been gone for nearly three hours."
"Catherine. They have made contact with Greg he got through on the radio. It seems he fell of his horse. But Nick is still missing. I'm going to go out with the search party."
"I'm coming too," Brass stated.
"Brass is staying too, you are in charge back there. Let Warrick and Sara know what's going on please."
"Gris you guys gotta find him."
"I know Catherine, I know."
Round Robin, Chapter Six by Marina
There was something about the quality of moonlight. It had always captivated him. The silvered dreaminess that settled on everyone and everything touched by the soft night light. Things seemed quieter, muffled, as if the Lady of the night sky drew a veil between the world and her occupants with the setting of the sun. It was this muted, surreal world that he had always seen things in the clearest.
Take, for instance, the long blade he was so lovingly polishing. A quick, surgical tool under the much harsher light of day. Vicious, brutal. Ah, but under the light of the moon…it was a thing of beauty. The sharp, steel blade fairly glowed with a pure white light. A beacon of truth and justice. Pure poetry singing in his hand. Smiling, he kissed the blade tenderly, breathing a silent promise of sweet, hot blood to come…soon.
He was nearly done, he thought. Nearly done bringing his message to those who had turned away from truth. He hoped they would see. If they didn’t see by the time he was through, he doubted that they ever would. He felt badly, in some detached corner of his mind, about those who had been sacrificed. But their deaths had not been in vain…not if they helped even one of those poor, misguided fools to see the truth. He *had* to help them see…had to help them understand.
He looked down at his watch, tapping the indiglo face to get a reading. Right on schedule, as usual. No one could ever accuse him of not being punctual. Whistling cheerfully, he stood up and stowed the knife in one of the many deep pockets of his cargo pants. One way or another, they would see before the night was through.
Pleasures of the flesh were as fleeting as life itself. It was what came after that mattered. He had tried to show them that through his art, his ingenious message. Pleasure before, but pain after—it was a simple equation, he thought. He’d really thought Grissom, at least, would understand and appreciate the subtleties of his message. Oh well. Either they would see or they would not. You could lead a horse to water, after all, but you could not make him drink.
With a last fond pat of the pocket that held the blade, he started off across the sand, stepping over the dark haired body in his path. He had one last visit to make tonight.
* * *
Stars. Millions of stars twinkling like jewels in the sky, in that brilliant way one can only see when one leaves the trappings of civilization. It took a few moments for the hazy thought to sink in that he was seeing them from the wrong angle. Nick blinked a few times, trying to figure out in an equally hazy manner just why the angle was wrong.
As if those thoughts had jolted his brain back into working, the answer slowly began to fall into place. There was a piece of brush poking painfully into his right arm. His canteen was digging into the small of his back. His aching head was lying against a grainy softness that could only be the Nevada desert sand. Ah-hah! That was it…he was lying on his back in the sand, looking up at the stars, and his head hurt like Hell.
Which made absolutely no sense, because the last time he had checked, he was upright, bending down to pick up a likely piece of said brush, and Greg was the one with the head injury. A few more pieces tumbled into place, and suddenly Nick’s eyes went wide. Greg...he’d left Greg alone back at the campsite. How long had he been gone?
Nick sat bolt upright, only realizing his mistake at the last instant. The world tilted wildly around him, spinning drunkenly. A wave of vertigo threatened to send him back onto the ground ad he moaned aloud, pressing his hand against the back of his head, where there was apparently a rather large gnome with a wicked sharp pickaxe trying to split his skull open. He sat thus for several seconds, determinedly riding out the dizziness, until Mother Earth decided to settle back onto her axis. Cautiously, he cracked one eye open. When the scenery remained as it should, he risked the other eye.
Yup, he was definitely still in the desert, and the remains of his firewood were scattered all around him. What the Hell had happened? The last thing he remembered, he had been gathering sticks of brush…and then he was lying in the dirt. The sky had darkened considerably while he’d been out…damn it, Greg was probably going out of his mind by now.
Having just recently had his brains scrambled, he would later suppose he could be forgiven for not putting the final puzzle piece into place quickly enough. Didn’t mean he ever would forgive himself, but he would suppose the option was there. And really, who was to say that those few minutes he spent trying to figure out what in God’s name had happened would really have made a difference, anyway?
Still, he would forever remember the cold chill that had stolen over him at the precise instant he made the connections. Someone had hit him over the head and left him lying there. Greg was alone at the camp, possibly hurt worse than Nick was at the moment.
“Oh shit!” He would never be able to describe the irrational certainty that seized him in that moment. But he knew…he *knew* that he had to get to his love, and fast. “Oh shit, oh shit, oh *shit*!” He scrambled, a bit unsteadily, to his feet, and was again forced to wait for the world to stop swaying. Or perhaps it was him doing the swaying. Didn’t matter. All that mattered was getting back to Greg.
He started off in a shambling run, stubbornly ignoring the pain that rocketed through his skull with every step. Greg needed him. Of that he had no doubt.
* * *
Catherine let out a sigh that was more than half growl and glared at the printouts and files in front of her, as if she could intimidate the objects into giving her the answers she so desperately needed. Her friends were in danger. Whatever game this psycho was playing, Catherine had the distinct feeling they were nearing the final round.
Numerous victims, all bearing uncanny resemblance to two of her dearest friends.
One always in pain, one always looking as though he had been having the best dream of his life when it ended.
Plenty of evidence, but none of it useful, except as an obvious taunt. Catherine hated to admit it, but if they all hadn’t been on duty in plain sight of dozens of people at the probable times of death, Brass would probably have arrested the entire CSI night shift by now.
Nick’s wallet, and Greg’s hair and blood found on the latest set. Catherine hadn’t even been aware she had been holding her proverbial breath until Warrick had informed her that Grissom and Brass had made contact with Greg and he, at least, was still relatively intact.
Damn it, the answer had to be here! There was no such thing as the perfect crime…that had been drilled into her since day one. There was always a flaw, always a slip, always some shred of evidence left behind. Unless this bastard was killing the young men in a full-on hazmat suit, there *had* to be some kind of evidence. The lives of her friends may very well depend on finding that evidence.
Tiredly, Catherine pinched the bridge of her nose and leaned back in her chair, arching her shoulders.
“I take it we’re still having no luck?” Catherine started slightly at the quiet question from the doorway. Sarah smiled apologetically and slipped into the lab, looking almost as worn out as Catherine felt.
“What was your first clue?” Catherine retorted more bitterly than she had intended. It wasn’t Sarah’ fault that the evidence made no damn sense. “I’m missing something…I know it.”
“Well, what have we got so far?” Sarah pulled up a chair and plopped down beside her.
“Whole lotta nothing. Except for the fact that we all have alibis, we would have been the prime suspects.
Samples from all of us, and don’t get me started on how much that creeps me out, and the vics, and that’s *it*. Just two boys laid out like—“ Catherine trailed off and stared into space for a moment, before suddenly lunging for the folder containing the crime scene photos.
“Laid out like what?” Sarah demanded, as Catherine opened the folder, spilling the gruesome photos out onto the table.
“Why do killers pose their victims? Why do they bother with staging when they should be getting the Hell out of Dodge?” Catherine asked excitedly.
“Acting out a fantasy or a compulsion, uh, some sort of symbolism…to leave a message?”
“Exactly! Look at these…the detail, the conformity of every crime scene…it’s like shock art.”
“Shock what?” Sarah wrinkled her brow in confusion, but she was beginning to see what Catherine was getting at.
“Oh you know…dissected animal carcasses as sculpture, goldfish in blenders, that kind of thing. Whoever this person is, they’re going to a lot of trouble to leave a message behind, one that’s going to stick out in our minds.”
The light went off over Sarah’s head and she leaned forward as eagerly as did Catherine.
“That’s our evidence…the scene itself!”
“Right. Now…just what is he trying to *say*?”
Chapter 7 by Heather
Nick felt something warm licking at his ear, "ummm Greg," Nick giggled, "cut that out! Ohh my head. What did we do last night?" Nick swatted at the warmth and the lingering fog cleared when Nick encountered a furred muzzle instead of Greg's stubbled cheek. "Greg!?" Nick yelled and then groaned. Nick looked up at Gerty, "I can't believe I passed out again. C'mon we'd better get back to camp." Nick moaned quietly as the world spun when he hauled himself up into Gerty's saddle. The journey to camp passed in a blur of pain and thudding hoofs. Despite Nick's best effort to stay awake he found himself being shaken and almost fell off Gerty. The supporting hand on his arm was the only thing keeping him from slipping off. Nick slowly opened his eyes to stare into the concerned gaze of Catherine. "Cath?"
"wha' ya doin' here?"
Catherine stared worriedly at Nick who was slurring his words and slipping into a heavy accent which only happened when he was very stressed or lacking sleep. She glanced up to see if the paramedics were coming. She saw Grissom and Warrick heading over. "Well we got worried when you and Greg were late. Greg managed to reach the ranch on the radio and we estimated- Nick! Nick wake up!" Catherine tapped Nick's cheek gently; Nick's eyes flew open.
"We were hoping you could tell us that,” Grissom said.
Nick's head lolled a bit as he turned to look at Grissom, who was on the other side of Gerty. "I diddn' know ya cared so much." Nick's face screwed up in concentration. "I was collectin' firewood. I woke up," Nick leaned forward and listed sideways a bit not quite whispering but in a quieter tone said, "I think I have a con-concussion. This isn' the firs' time I passed out. I woke up to Gerty licking my face. No wait I woke up a second time, or," Nick rubbed at his head, "I dunno. Where's Greg?"
"It's okay. Nick, the paramedics are here let's get you off the horse."
"The horse's," Nick paused his face contorted with pain as he eased off the horse, "name is," Nick panted, "Gerty."
"Oh," Grissom said with hint of amusement in his voice.
Nick suddenly seemed more aware of the fact that there were a lot more people around him. One of the people seemed sprawled on the ground. In fact the body seemed to be the epicenter of all the activity. The prone form looked familiar. "Greg?" Nick took a wobbly step forward, one of the paramedics put a restraining hand on Nick's shoulder. That must have been the wrong thing to do because Nick jerked free and in a burst of adrenalin rushed forward and knelt at the body. Nick stared in shock at the body before him. Greg's lifeless eyes stared blankly up at Nick with a parody of pleasure plastered across his face and a scalpel stuck in his chest.
Greg Sanders Slash Round Robin Chapter 8 By Sajin
"OH MY GOD" screamed Nick as he landed on the desert floor next to Greg's lifeless body.
"Nick, No you will contaminate the scene we still have to process it for evidence" called Grissom.
"What, no Greg, I am so sorry I left you alone" cried Nick reaching for Greg's lifeless body and about to pull it into his arms.
"NO" yelled everyone at once.
"Warrick, grab nick and get him over there, I don't care where right now and strip him down. Get the new clothes we brought with us. I want all his clothes tagged and bagged for evidence." screamed Grissom with too much emotion in his voice.
"Nick come on with me I will help you. Jim could you help me with Nick over here" asked Warrick as he and brass carried nick behind a large cactus for some cover.
Between Warrick and Jim they got Nick stripped and re-clothed and all his items of clothing bagged and tagged.
Jim kept talking to Nick trying to calm him down so that they could get him fixed up.
Nick kept trying to run back to Greg's body.
They finally got him changed and by that time the body had been taken away and the team was combing the scene for evidence.
"Where is Greg I need to see him again Please let me see him" shouted Nick trying to run after the Transport team.
"No, Nick you can't we need you here so that we can get some info for you. I know you want to be with Greg but we need you here for right now" called Catherine holding Nick to her while she was talking to him.
Nick continued to sob in her arms. Grissom came up behind Nick with his flashlight and examined him from behind.
"Nick don't move Sara give me tweezers now I think I found a new clue" told Grissom to Sara who helped as fast as she could.
The sample was taken and Nick sagged into Catherine's arms again.
"Okay get nick to the hospital Warrick I want him examined and X-rayed for his head injury and no one leaves him until all examinations are completed. Jim I want an officer with you and Warrick the whole time in the hospital and an escort vehicle too the hospital." ordered Grissom.
None of the team had ever saw him like this and no one, not even Nick in his condition said anything.
Warrick and Jim left the scene with Nick between them, Jim on the phone to the station to get everything in motion by the time they got back to the school. He also had the hospital on alert for when they got there.
"Okay everyone else knows what to do here. I am going back to the lab with the body I want to help with the autopsy." announced Grissom.
"Wait hasn't Doc got the weekend off to see Celine I know he has been looking forward to this for awhile" questioned Catherine.
"I know I am going to call him now to tell him to get back to the lab and that I will buy him front row seats as soon as we find this maniac and put him away for life." seethed Grissom.
********************* Later in Autopsy **************************
"This better be good Gil" commented Doc Robbins dryly as he entered the autopsy room still dressed in his Tux from the show.
He stopped and gulped down what he was going to say next when he saw who was on the table ready for him.
"Oh god no not Greg? How is Nick taking it? Where is Nick and What happened?" howled Doc in frustration at the scene before him.
"No don't tell me till I get changed give me ten minutes." answered Robbins going to the phone "David get your ass over here we need you back at the lab be here and ready to go in 15 minutes. We have a priority case here it is one of the team."
Then Doc left the room to get changed and scrubbed up.
Gil was left in the room never feeling so alone in his life looking down at the body on the tray table. He had known Greg for so long and now he felt sorry for all the things he had ever said to him about his music and his outlandish behavior.
He vowed to himself to find his killer and bring him to justice no matter how long it took. Then tears began to fall down his face. He didn't lift a finger to stop them either, his emotions were uncontrollable at this point.
When Doc came back into the room Gil turned to face the wall wiping away the tears and getting himself back under control. But doc Robbins saw his reflection in the glass behind him. He stopped dead in his tracks. In all the years he had known Gil he had never saw him cry or show this much emotion about anyone or anything.
Everyone was saved a moment later from saying anything with the entrance of David into the room.
"Doc-Gil I am here sorry about being late" David said.
Then he saw who was on the table.
"Oh my god not Greg" stammered David.
Everyone on the nightshift knew about Nick and Greg they had come out early in there relationship so that there would be no misunderstandings among the night shift that had included Doc Robbins and David as well.
"Nick is being examined at the hospital as we speak now let's get on with this I want to find what happened to Greg so we can get the killer who did this. Also I don't want to keep his family waiting any longer than necessary for the body then we have to for arrangements." Grissom said matter of factly.
"Okay let's get to it then. David I want pictures of every part of him and full x-rays as well." called Doc as David went to get the camera. "also extra pics of the scalpel and the wound track itself"
"Yes sir" answered David as he started taking photos.
By the time the team came back from the desert and Warrick and Brass had brought Nick back from the hospital, Grissom had returned from the autopsy and was waiting for them in the Conference room.
"Nick how are you doing and what did the doctor's say?" questioned Gil.
"I have a mild concussion but not serious enough to stay in the hospital, I have to have someone stay with me for the next 24 hours doing the post-concussion syndrome checks. Warrick has already volunteered to let me stay at his place." commented Nick on his case.
"Good well I have news myself on the Body" announced Grissom.
"Wait don't you mean Greg right" called Catherine.
"No I mean the body but it isn't Greg though. Now the question is Where is Greg and what has the killer done to him while sending us on this wild goose chase with this other body." told Grissom to the room at large.
"How do you know it wasn't Greg's body that we found in the desert?" cried a joyful Nick.
~*~*~*~*Chapter 9~*~*~*~* by Tara
"I'm still not 100% sure, I'm still waiting for the DNA results though the fingerprints weren't a match for Greg, already. And the last I knew, Greg didn't have any tattoos."
"No, Greg doesn't have any tattoos, and I would know. How did we miss that? I mean, we'd notice something like that."
"Yes, we would, but we were all probably distracted by the fact that the vic looks like Greg. We were expecting Greg at the campsite and when his duplicate showed up, we weren't objective enough to see the differences."
"Differences how? It looks just like Greg," Cathrine pipped up.
"Different build. Our vic has a bit of a paunch. The vic is also several inches shorter then our Greg and his hair isn't right. Too even. There's signs that it's been recently bleached. There's no signs of Greg's lab accident or having fallen off a horse. Our killer may have been sitting on this Greg look alike, waiting for the perfect time to use him."
"The killer used the look alike instead of Greg, why?"
"Maybe he wasn't able to complete the set," Sarah cast a worried glance at Nick. He was white-knuckling the table and the look of strain was obvious on his face.
"But he knocked me unconscious in the desert. I was totally at his mercy."
"And he also only killed a Greg, not a Nick match. He's always killed in pairs but this time he killed a single."
"Killed in pairs? A Greg? A Nick match? What are you talking about?" Nick looked around at his friends worriedly.
His friends glared at Warrick, sitting guiltily at his side. "I haven't really gotten a chance to get him up to speed."
Though it was rather risky, Warrick drove Nick over to his apartment after the two of them had been thrown out of the lab. It was hard to leave the investigation to find Greg behind but everyone could tell how worried Nick was for his missing lover. Ecklie, himself, had taken one look at the young man and said he looked like shit and wondered if Greg was looking the same. Warrick was tempted to clock Ecklie himself for that but instead drug the enraged man back and out to his car to take him home.
Nick was silent and Warrick had to keep turning to see if he was even there, as well as to make sure he was awake. When they got to the apartment door, Warrick had to take the keys from his outstretched hand to unlock and enter. It was even harder for the young man when the uniformed police officer put a restraining hand on their shoulders and said he had to check it out first.
"Please, Warrick. Lets just go back to the lab. I have to help, I have to find Greg." Nick was shaking again and despite not being a touchy feely guy himself, he pulled Nick into a big hug, letting the guy cry silently on his shoulder for a while.
"We'll get him back, Nick. Before you know it, he'll be playing his music so loud Grissom's Mom will be able to hear it. He'll have everything rearranged so that Hodges can't find anything and he'll be flirting with Sarah & Cathrine so much I'll be blushing."
Nick laughed in his shoulder, drawing back to wipe the tears away. "And I'll be watching him dance thru the glass, wondering when he's going to sneak away to Doc Robinson's to get his coffee. Did you know that's where he hides it? They've put together a coffee bar that would make Starbucks jealous." He gave another couple of pained laughs before shaking himself, resolving that everything would be better, that they would find Greg soon.
"And I thought Greg was creepy before," he shuddered dramatically while filing the coffee mystery away. Him, Sarah, and Cathrine had just about torn apart the lab trying to find that sweet elixir one night. Maybe he could exchange the knowledge for favors. Nah, he wouldn't be that mean. "Come on, lets get you some clothes and stuff and get over to my place. We still have a couch to pull out and set up."
Nick nodded and entered his apartment, taking everything in. Somewhere in the back of his mind, something was nagging, saying that he was forgetting or missing something. He chalked it up to being here without Greg and Warrick's presence in the room.
Instead, he puttered around the room, watering the plants and making sure the automatic fish feeder was full. He stared at the exotic fish, knowing how much Greg had loved them. He wasn't even sure why they'd ended up in his apartment but then since his place was bigger, the two tended to spend most of their time here. Knowing Greg would spoil them if he were here, Nick opened a package of freeze dried worms and put them in, watching as the fish scrambled for the treat.
Nick ignored the presence of his friend behind him, trying not to cry as he thought about Greg and his stupid fish.
"That one there is a barbus sp, gold barb. And that one there is gymnocorymbus ternetzi. They come in black or white, though they have a cousin hemigrammus rodwayi & hyphessobrycon pulchripinnis which come in gold and silver. And I want to get a heros appendiculatus but the pet shop always have sick looking ones when I go." During that conversation, Nick's mind was on other Latin words like, glutius maximus and the jugular gutter.
He would get Greg back, he just had to.
Nick entered the bedroom, pushing away the memories. He knew if he let them, they would take him away, get him distracted. He needed to concentrate on controlling himself so that he could re-join the investigation. Or at least as much of the investigation as they would let him.
He pulled his suitcase from under the bed and tossed some of his essentials in. He slid open the closet door, reaching in to grab a few shirts when something stopped him. Something wasn't right, it was all out of place.
"Hey Warrick, did you and Brass rearrange when you came over to get me clothes?"
"No, man. We just grabbed your spairs from your locker at work. We never came over here. What, is something missing?"
"No, just out of place. This shirt is Greg's. One of the few dress shirts he owns. He keeps it on his side of the closet." Nick rearranged the sliding doors to show a section of clothes that Warrick recognized from Greg's collection. Some of them were one's he'd never seen before, ones that had to be spares because if Nick actually owned those...
Nick reached out his hand to a black dresser hanger with pant hooks. Before his hand connected he stopped.
"Do you have your field kit in your car?"
"Yeah. Let me go get it. But you know someone else should be processing the crime scene."
"Probably, but then you don't live here. You wouldn't know what's out of place and has been touched. Damn it, I knew something was wrong when I came in but I thought it was because Greg's missing."
"What exactly is wrong, what's changed?"
Nick turned around the room, taking in little details and discovering many things off. Only those who knew what they were looking for would know what was wrong.
"The statues are facing the wrong way. The frog is supposed to carry money into the house, not across. The Egypt guy is supposed to face East, towards the rising sun. The prisms go in the left pane, not the right so they can catch the most light. The pillows have been switched and my old cop uniform is gone."
"I can't believe you kept that thing?" Warrick said on his way out, giving quick instructions to the uniform to watch Nick as he rushed out to his car.
Nick blushed at that. He'd kept his uniform out and in good repair because Greg was a sucker for the uniform. The lab boy and the cop with handcuffs was a treat that usually had Nick smiling like the canary eating cat and Greg sitting gingerly with a matching smirk.
Outside, Warrick pulled out his cell to inform Grissom and the team of the latest development. "Hey guys, I'm here at Nick's place and he says things are off. Things have been moved around and his cop uniform is gone."
On the other end, Grissom relayed the info to Cathrine who was with him. Her brows furrowed as she tried to think of something else. Dimly she heard Grissom make arrangements for a team to go out to Nick's to investigate the latest crime scene.
"Gris, I think we should have one of the lab techs go through Greg's things. When we went through it, we didn't see anything amiss because we really didn't know what we were looking for but another lab tech might spot something we didn't."
"That's a good idea. We've been under a microscope to this guy, what if another eye can catch something we can't?"
"And I think it's important that Nick's cop uniform is gone. When I went through Greg's stuff, I noticed he only had two lab coats. I thought it was odd at the time because I thought he kept three on hand but it could have been was gone because it was getting washed or he'd thrown it out since it was stained. But what if it's another clue the killer has planned for us?"
"I think it's more then that. The killer has obviously been trying to give us a message and we thought because the positioning of the bodies as lovers and in pleasure or pain that he was focusing in on Nick and Greg's unusual relationship. But what if that is secondary. What if the killer deems Nick and Greg as more worthy of his message?"
"Because they're both CSI's!" Cathrine exclaimed as she saw what Grissom was getting at. "Nick used to be a cop and Greg is a lab tech in training. They both have experiences in law enforcement and crime scenes that give them unique perspectives. The rest of us are hindering, holding the two back- killing them. We're former strippers, gamblers, alcoholics, and stuff. But there are plenty of other CSI's who could qualify under that heading. Ecklie has a former mortion on his team."
"But the night shift gets better cases. Unique and complex cases. And the pleasure/pain lover layout could still be a clue. The killer hasn't just deemed them worthy, he's also deemed them rare."
The killer looked at his sleeping charge. Part of him was worried because there was an audible rasp to Greg's breathing and his pupils were getting sluggish to respond when he checked on him. But hopefully that wouldn't matter soon. He was nearly complete with his message.
Part of him was regretting leaving Nick in the desert but he knew it was the best choice. Greg would need special preparations. He knew that as soon as he'd seen the young man in the desert, aglow in the moonlight. He looked so precious sitting wrapped up in the sleeping bags, begging desperately on the radio for someone to talk to.
The killer ran his fingers through the silky blond spikes, feeling a bit closer to Nick as he did. It was a pleasure that the two now shared. The feel of soft hair and warm body. Hours earlier he'd gotten to hold that warm body close to his as he'd washed the desert grim and grit from him. It left the boy feeling like the softest silk, his body a concert of colors from the bruises and hickeys.
The body spoke deeply of pain and hardship but the look on Greg's face was perfect. He had a slight smile to his parted lips, like he was waiting for Nick's kiss. It was entrancing, seeing the pale limbs limp on the cotton sheets, soft and smooth and warm. Unfettered by clothing or the restraints the killer had. He knew Greg wouldn't be much of a problem. It was obvious from the skin discoloration and swelling that Greg had taken a really hard fall off the horse. The boy would be no match for anyone, not even the crippled Doc Robinson, least of all him.
He'd been delivered a gift and he was going to take full advantage of that fact.
"I have 6 sisters and Greg has a twin. You kinda develop a sixth sense on if someone has touched your stuff," Nick explained as Warrick and him went through his things. Sarah and Grissom were due to arrive shortly.
The duo had donned the rubber gloves and Warrick was taking notes as well as pictures as Nick went thru his things, noting what was missing. So far they'd discovered several photographs, Nick's handcuffs, a bottle of massage oil, Greg's favorite ice cream as well as his home stock of Blue Hawaiian, Nick's CSI certificates, Greg's CSI homework, several forensic and scientific books and journals, a pair of wine glasses with one bottle of wine, several Cd's, their black satin sheets, and several things from a wooden box in the closet that Nick really didn't want to tell Warrick about just as much as Warrick didn't want to know. He only listed them as 'intimate items' on his list. Many other things had been touched and moved around. From the bed to the dresser, the cabinets to the TV center.
Of course, Nick kept it together as he went thru their things until he was taking inventory of the pictures on the mantle. He had been glancing through them, noting which picture frames were empty when he stopped suddenly, his voice dropping into silence. His hand reached out to a spot that seamed really bare.
"Nick, you OK?"
"He took the photograph, our photograph," his voice just about cracked with emotion. At Warrick's nudge, he continued, "One of our first dates, we'd gone to the park with some of Greg's friends. We had a picnic by the lake. Fed the ducks, flew some kites. We were sitting under a shade tree. I was holding Greg and we were laughing and Liz snapped a picture of us. I think... I think that was the day that I realized I loved him..."
"Dude, you should so not be doing this now. Whatever else the perp took can wait till later. We have more then enough listed. Let me take you back to my place to sleep." Warrick put down the pad into his kit and guided Nick out the door. He stowed the kit back in his car and Nick into the passenger seat.
It wasn't long before the others arrived and Warrick handed off the list as well as Nick's key. Warrick brought Grissom up to speed while Sarah went to check on her friend.
"How you holding up?"
"Not bad considering my boyfriend's been kidnapped and I don't know what condition he's in," Nick replied tartly.
Sarah winced, "Yeah, bad question. I just... well I could use some clever platitudes right here but they're going to fall flat on their face too, aren't they?"
"Probably." Nick went silent, staring out the front windshield. Not knowing what else to do, Sarah pulled her friend into a hug. He squeezed her comforting arms, saying, "He's out there, all alone and hurt and I'm sure he's scared. I just want him back, Sarah. I need him back."
"Don't worry, Nick. We'll get him back," she squeezed him tighter, needing the comfort as much as him.
Their moment was interrupted when Warrick jumped in the drivers seat. A quick, reassuring hug and Sarah joined Grissom and their own uniformed shadow to the crime scene.
Warrick pulled out and headed towards his place. When he looked over he could see Nick deep in thought. "Thinking about Greg?" At Nick's incredulous stare (like he'd be thinking about something else), Warrick continued by saying, "Good. You can think about Greg all you want but you are so *not* going to have a wet dream on my couch," which got his buddy to smile. He only hoped it would last.
"Well that's good because I'm pretty sure I don't want to have a wet dream on your couch."
Warrick flashed him a wry grin. "And don't think that I'm not grateful to hear it."
"Right." Easy banter, it was old and familiar. Well worn with practice and comfortable friendship. "Thanks."
"Anytime, you know that."
"Yeah, I do." And he did. He understood why they kept him away, kept him out of it. All of the reasons...emotional, logical, professional...but at the same time, he couldn't help the antsy, sinking feeling that there was something he should be doing, something that might make the one bit of difference.
Might make that *one* connection that would find Greg, and he was the only one who might see it. It was a feeling in his gut, nothing more but strong. Or maybe he just couldn't stand the thought of sitting around and doing nothing while the most important person in his life lie helpless in the hands of a murderer. Someone who had proven several times already they had no problem with killing both he and Greg, if only by proxy.
"I mean it. Not just this," Nick told him seriously, watching the sunny Vegas scenery speeding past beyond the driver's window. Taking him further and further away from doing his part to find Greg. "But everything. I don't know what I would do with out you guys right now. You - the whole gang - even when we first came out, you didn't judge, didn't turn your backs on us. You, Catherine, Grissom, Sara- you all stood up to the assholes on shift giving Greg a hard time - helped me protect him. And I need to help now, you know? I need to do something other than bury my head in my hands and scream. Which is what I want to do right now - hell, still might."
"Nick...I know how you feel, but..."
"No, I don't think you do. Please, Rick," Nick was down to begging, looking forlorn and a little lost but pretty much together. "I can't not do this. I have to be there...in case..." There he faltered, unable to put voice to that last. Not that each of them hadn't been thinking the very same thing anyway. Though more tears threatened, there was determination behind them; an awareness in the brown eyes that hadn't been there since finding Gr...the body at the ranch.
Warrick felt an involuntary pang. "In case it really is him next time." Nick nodded, relieved that he hadn't been the one to say it, and angrily brushed away the lone tear that fell. "Yeah. Look - I know I lost it. Big time."
"No kidding," Warrick snorted and the sideways glance was concerned. "Damn, man, what were you thinking? Contaminating the scene, clutching the body...screamin' fit to wake..."
"The dead?" Both men winced. "Yeah. I know; I wasn't thinking.
Speaking of which..." At this point Nick backed up a bit in the seat, turning to face Warrick with a half accusing glare. "A cactus, Warrick?"
"Yeah well...it was handy."
"Like the ranch house wasn't?"
"Not nearly as much fun." When a side glance showed the beginnings of real anger in the dark eyes glaring at him, Warrick threw up his hands before quickly setting them back on the wheel, fending off Vegas traffic. "Alright, I wasn't thinking either, happy?"
But it was clear Nick was anything but happy. In fact the further away from the scene they drove the quieter the Texan became, and Warrick was dead sure Nick wasn't holding a grudge about a stupid cactus.
"Grissom's gonna kill me." Making a U at the light, Warrick sighed, the sudden startled look turning hopeful in his friend's eyes not enough to offset the doomsday mutter, though his heart really wasn't in it.
"Ok, what have we got?"
Grissom had barely gotten the words out of his mouth when the familiar heavy tread of Warrick's truck pulled around the corner, Grissom following it with a slight frown as he parked in the driveway.
"Besides two extra CSIs on scene I see." One eyebrow rose over tinted sunglasses to favor the pair. "Warrick? Don't you have somewhere other to be that's not here?"
"I don't doubt it." With a faintly amused twitch of the lips, Grissom hmmed, blue eyes flickering unseen behind his sunglasses taking in the two new arrivals. "Nick," A small exhalation of breath, hardly a sigh preceded a soft request that hung on the morning air, shocking everyone. "Do you think you could lend us a hand here?"
"Yeah...I - just tell me what to do."
"Go check the house, make sure we haven't forgotten anything?"
"Yeah. You got it." He turned away only to stop, staring at himself in the reflection of Grissom's dark lenses. With everything on the line - the case, Greg's life - he wasn't about to let them down. "Thanks, Gris."
"Grissom...are you sure this is wise?" Sara came up to him, hand not quite landing on his arm, his attention caught up in the retreating back, tight with tension. Everyone was thinking it, he was sure, but it was Sara who put voice to their concerns. Everyone that had stopped gathering, processing, to watch the confrontation, now watched Nick disappear into the shadows of his own house.
"He could compromise the investigation. He could..."
"No more than the rest of us, " he shrugged, hearing her frown and favoring her with another of those Looks, this one with a little more honesty in the blue gaze. "We're all far too emotionally involved in this case, Sara. I have a feeling that Nick being here isn't going to do any more damage than we already have."
And a part of Grissom hoped he may just be those fresh pair of eyes on this that put everything into perspective.
"Now..." Grissom pulled their attention back to the matter at hand; finding the evidence. "Once more, what have we got?"
He awoke for a moment, head fuzzy and dull, vision blurred and dark. He felt horrible, body and limbs heavy. Something was wrong. Wasn't it? It was, he was sure...he thought...
But he was so tired...
Mind wrapped in a blanket, he let the heaviness drag him back into sleep.
Behind the two-way glass, he stood as he had for the last hour, observing, appreciating the pure beauty of line and shadow; the subtle curve of muscle and bone. Structure and form. The unconscious grace of breathing. Nick would have more movement in his lines, he was sure. More shape in the curve of due to increased mass and definition. His bone structure was a bit sharper as well, cheek bones a bit higher and more defined; sharp chin. Sharper minds hidden by the outer form; flesh, tissue, bone.
He was sure they would see all he was trying to show them. If only the rest of their so called peers would move aside and get out of their light. They would see. Nick would see, he was sure of it.
Movement broke his musings of what it would be like, when they finally understood, when they finally *saw*.
Watching his victim half rouse only to lose the struggle against the drugs in his system, he savored the rush of adrenaline and desire that coursed through his veins. A flash of insight caught him for a moment and he smiled. Maybe he wouldn't rush this after all. Maybe there was another way to he could work this...give Greg a chance to catch up. Unfair of him to share his vision with Nick and not allow his other lovely to bask in the same brilliance of their benefactor's insight...
Greg was twitching, his fingers reaching out for something...someone...
With one last, loving stroke of fingers over the prefect blade, the knife was set aside, it's master having another type of cut to make. Not as physical, they would be far more painful he was sure.
At least for now.
Inside, Nick was beginning to think joining the crime scene might not have been such a good idea.
There was no telling how much time had passed, sitting on the foot of their bed, legs dangling but still, feet planted lightly on the floor...staring at the frame that once housed *their* picture. The room was mostly dark, the only light coming in through a curtained window situated in the wrong direction for that time of day to do much good. The absence of light didn't matter; he didn't need it to see what should have been there. He and Greg; together, laughing. Safe.
Thoughts whirled behind his eyes, images of the two of them. Flashbacks of Greg laughing, talking, smirking...
...the wild spikes of his hair shining in the sun at the park, pulling him along, daring him to jump into the fountain, water arcing full on for the summer. Before shoving him in himself.
The soft lips and pale skin, dotted here and there with an occasional freckle or mole...a faint scar or two from...he shook his head.
Further. The soft cries, the arc of his back above him as he moved before throwing his head back the moment his climax hit him, exposing the long line of his throat...
The quiet cozy moments spent in front of the tv watching a hockey game, Greg's favorite. Or outside, back against a tree, reading the same book and waiting for Nick resting between his legs to catch up so he could turn the page...
Sitting atop of Bruno, the brown gelding plodding slow and steady, Greg turning back in the saddle to stick his tongue out at Nick following behind, telling him this whole riding thing was a piece of cake...later that night, the feel of his body in his arms, highlighted and warm from the fire. The taste of his kiss as they made love in the open, hidden by the night and the landscape all around them...
And the last time Nick had seen him, standing by Gerty, injured and hurting, resolutely trying to find a signal, to send out a radio call for help...
Trying not feel all this was his fault. If only he hadn't left him. If only he hadn't wandered so far. If only he hadn't talked Greg into that trip. If only they had stayed in Vegas. If...
"Nick...? Stop that." Grissom's voice brought him up with a guilty start. He was supposed to be helping.
He looked up from the empty frame only to find his supervisor kneeling on the floor beside his bed, the blue eyes looking into his full of understanding and concern. "Stop that. We'll find him. It's not your fault."
"I...wish I could believe that." Again the tears threatened to fall and he let them, admitting in a morose way that it was fitting they should fall and collect in the frame, the wood that once held his happiness now holding his sorrow.
"Believe it. We'll find him."
Put that way, it was hard not to agree. He was no good to them - to Greg - if he couldn't pull himself together. Reluctantly, he put the picture frame aside, setting in on the coverlet, forcing himself back into the present.
"What now?" he asked. "Did you..."
"No, noone's found anything that doesn't belong, at least we don't think so," Grissom said, rising to claim the armchair and set it closer to where Nick sat on the bed. "Which is why I wanted to confirm with you."
"Warrick is taking the film back to the lab to process, and Sara left with him to process what little we did find. What I want to know is your take on all of this." Leaning forward, after running his hands over his face Grissom rested his elbows on his knees, a sure sign of exhaustion in the older man.
"You've been brought up to speed on the facts of this case, " he told him.
"What do you think he's trying to tell us?"
There had to be some kind of message being left; for this type of posing of the body at the scene, it was almost standard. Grissom observed him while not staring enough to make him feel as if he were under a microscope while Nick mentally reviewed everything he knew about the murders so far. Slowly Nick began to speak as he worked it through.
"Little or no evidence of the killer suggests he's careful...methodical. He takes his time, doesn't rush and make a mistake."
Grissom nodded but didn't say anything.
"He's confident. The fact that he's good enough to plant false evidence is not good." Nick bit his lip, thinking. "The fact that that evidence came from us - our blood, our dna, fingerprints - is..."
"Frightening?" This was offered with a slight tilt of the head and a tight, bemused smile.
"Yeah. Freaky." Nick agreed, locking down a shudder, realizing he had to have been watching them for months. Here, at work...maybe even on the trail... "We know how he probably got Greg's blood, hair...the accident in the mountains when he was thrown off Bruno. The other horse."
"Probably, " Gil agreed. "As for the rest of us, that's one of the things we need to figure out. We know what he has, find out how he acquired them and we find opportunity and possibly motive."
"But what about this house, your things," Grissom frowned. "We know he took some things - your uniform, and we suspect Greg's lab coat, which Catherine's confirming - but why did he take some things...and only move others?"
"A message," Nick said firmly. "Something we should have picked up on and didn't."
"I think so. You specifically I think, though how you could be expected to do that while on vacation and out of the investigation, only the killer knows."
Nick accused, "Is that why you let me help?"
"One of the reasons, yes." Blue eyes refused to let him look away.
"Nick you need to work this, otherwise it will drive you insane. But I do think this particular message was meant for you." Grissom shrugged. "It's your house, your things missing or moved. Yours to solve."
With a feeling of helplessness, Nick again looked around the room, doing his best to ignore the rising feeling of panic that threatened to overwhelm him. How could he solve anything? He had no clue what this lunatic was trying to tell him, much less how to find Greg. He didn't even know what he was supposed to be looking for...
His uniform, Greg's lab coat...personal moments...Greg's coffee, the bottle of wine...massage oil, their black satin sheets...his handcuffs...all missing. Romantic items, sexual fantasies...things that spoke of the two of them.
He didn't want to think about that. He couldn't. Focus on the evidence; process...
Statues facing the wrong way, a frog that carries money across the house, but not in...a prism that no longer catches the most light...statue of a man that no longer faces east...towards the path of enlightenment... ....evidence that points the finger at them all, at the night shift CSIs in general, dismissed because they all had alibi's...blood, hair, dna, fingerprints...the stock and trade of their expertise...
And with a sinking feeling in his gut, he *knew*. His strangled, "Gris" brought Grissom's attention back sharply, concern narrowing the expectant gaze. Only to widen at the haunted look on his face.
"He's telling us we're looking in the wrong direction," Nick told him, stricken. "It *is* one of us."
Greg Sanders was having one mother of a headache.
Naked under strange thin sheets, he shivered, not wanting to risk thinking around the pain and setting off another explosion in his head.
Movement was still iffy and painful when attempted, shifting only enough to get the feel of sheets under and around his body, realize he wasn't wearing anything on him.
What had happened?
He had been out in the desert, had finally gotten a signal on the radio, a search party had been planned... ....had mounted, Gerty's sudden snort, head flying back in panic at something she must have seen or smelled...cracking into his face...throwing him from the saddle... ...a cold, heavy darkness...waking up here...
"I see you are awake..."
"If you say so," The croak that came out had the stranger reaching for a glass of water, offering it to him. With the help of a straw, Greg even managed to sit up and take a sip. Lip must be split, it felt a little swollen..."Where am I?"
"What do you remember?"
What was it with doctors and answering a question with a question, anyway? He glared at the man in white lab coat with as much effectiveness as he was able only to give it up when the man didn't appear in the least bit phased by his effort. And now his face hurt. "Not much, " he admitted reluctantly.
"I was trying to call...for help I think?...and the horse bucked...or threw a fit...or something...I'm not sure."
"You were horseback riding and your horse -" the doctor checked his clipboard. " - Gerty I believe? - did indeed rear and catch you off guard."
Which explained the throbbing from hell in his face and the sadistic headache exploding behind his eyes. It didn't explain, though, what he was doing naked in a small room, with no signs of EKG machines or other normal hospital monitors. He couldn't be sure beyond the still fuzzy vision, maybe they were in the corner or something, but he didn't hear any beeping. Maybe it was smaller clinic in the mountains?
Maybe they had been afraid to move him after the fall? But he felt fine...he certainly felt pain and that pretty much ruled out spinal injury, didn't it? But the doctor was speaking again and he had to work to understand what the man was telling him.
"As for your friend..."
Nick! Nick had been missing. The sun had set and Nick hadn't come back. He remembered the voice on the radio asking if Nick was with him...
"What about Nick?" Ignoring the painful waves racking his skull, Greg tried to sit up further, headless of his naked state, only to fall back against the pillows when his body refused to obey him. "Where is he? Can I see him?"
"You don't remember then." The statement itself served to still his movement, and he felt himself grow cold. Dread curled over him at the slight shake of the dark head, the downcast eyes once more favoring him with a slightly unnerving stare. "Your companion, Nick Stokes...is dead."
Chapter 11 By Morrolan Warnings: none...maybe some bad language.
"Dead! No, Nick can't be dead! He can't!" Greg wailed.
"Mr. Sanders, you need to calm down. Acting like this is only going to aggravate your injuries and slow down the recovery time."
"Do you think I care how long it is going to take to recover? Nick is dead! But he can't be dead. He just went to look for firewood...just to look for firewood." Greg slowly trailed off as the man in the lab coat pulled the syringe back from Greg's arm.
"You need to sleep Mr. Sanders...sleep so you can recover."
"Don't wanna shleep, wanna shee Nicky, can't be dead jush can."
"One of us? But we all have alibis. So it couldn't have been one of us."
"But that's what all the clues, all the evidence, points to. Someone who can get close to us to collect the physical evidence. Someone who seems to have a grudge against Greg and I...but then why not really kill Greg at the camp...why leave someone who looks like Greg, and why only knock me out...why not take advantage of the situation and kill us both...So maybe our killer doesn't really have a grudge, but a message...a message to deliver to us....something that maybe he or she thinks that Greg and I can see...but that you guys can't...That's why Greg and I are specifically targeted. So something that Greg and I have in common..."
"Well, you are both gay, and in a relationship with each other."
"Maybe...but then why kill people who look like us? Maybe our killer is telling us that that doesn't matter...so something other than that....maybe. But what?"
"Hey Warrick, how's Nick holding up?" Catherine asked.
"About as well as can be expected, maybe a little better than most people would"
"That's good. Where's Gris?"
"Still back at the house with Nick. Why?"
"Ecklie is trying to get the case taken away from us."
"Bastard. I don't need to ask why, because I can see it. We are all to emotionally involved in this. But even with that, we have a better chance of solving it. And since the killer seems to be specifically targeting us...God knows what he would do if Ecklie took the case."
"That's what I said, but they still want to speak with Grissom about it."
"I'm do back at the scene...house...in a bit. Still can't get over it...Nick's house is a crime scene again. Anyway, I can tell Grissom if you want me to."
"Yeah, thanks. I think he would take it better coming from one of us then hearing it from Ecklie when he got back."
"Great, well, I gotta drop this stuff and then head back to pick up Nick."
"Give him a hug for me."
Greg felt funny all over, kinda tingly, and rather as if he was floating, kind of like floating in a pool or a bathtub. Rather interesting feeling he thought to himself. Like floating in a pool of soda, with the fizz all around you and the bubbles popping on your skin. 'Have to be careful not to get any up my nose,' he giggled. Then stopped because it felt like someone had stabbed him in the chest. 'Right, injuries, hospital, drugs, Nick, where is Nick!' Then he remembered, 'Doctor said Nick is dead, can't be dead...I'd know it wouldn't I? Wouldn't I?'
Chapter 12. by Marina
He was nine years old and Papa Olaf had come to pick him up during Science class. He knew immediately that something was terribly wrong, for his beloved Papa looked pale and scared, and his eyes were red-rimmed, as though he had been crying. A cold, slimy feeling began slithering through his stomach, and he literally began vibrating with the need to question his grandfather. A single look from those teary blue eyes, though, and the questions died before he could give voice to them.
Silently, they proceeded to Papa Olaf’s beat up old station wagon and slid into the worn seats. The whole time he never took his eyes from Papa’s face, a face that suddenly seemed older and craggier than he had ever seen it. Papa Olaf sat staring out of the windshield for a few moments, before his wizened hand crept across the seat to grip his, pulling him tight against the old man’s side.
“Bad news, litt kanin,” Papa murmured into his hair. “Your Nana, she’s had a heart attack. One of the neighbors saw her collapse while she was hanging clothes on the line. They got her to the hospital, but we don’t know anything yet. Do you know what a heart attack is, little one?”
Mutely, he nodded, the icy cold suddenly surging up to envelope him from the inside out. The backs of his eyes stung, and his throat seemed to tighten to a fourth of its usual capacity. Papa Olaf hugged him tightly then, a broken sort of rasp escaping from his mouth before he visibly pulled himself together.
“Your Nana is a strong woman, Gregory. She won’t leave us yet. But we need to go to her, now, and help her be stronger. Can you do that for your Nana?”
It was a question that required no answer and they both knew it. Ever since his father had left, Greg had all but moved in with his beloved grandparents, soaking up the comfort and love of their home like a sponge while his mother struggled to put her life back to rights. She seemed all right most of the time, but every so often, Greg would catch her looking at him with pain-filled eyes, as if the very sight of him was somehow hurting her. It had killed him a little inside when he realized that she never looked at Gracie like that. Only him. It had been such a relief when Papa Olaf had suggested that Greg come and stay with them for a little while. Somehow, Papa had the ability to make even the greatest hurts bearable.
So Greg would do the same for him. He would be strong for his Papa and Nana, and help them through this hurt, and they would be a family again. That was all there was to it.
Years later, the sights and smells of that hospital would haunt him. The antiseptic wafting through the air, almost but not quite covering up the stench of sickness and despair. The harsh fluorescent lights that glared off every surface. The cold, impersonal people that had flitted in and out of the waiting room where he and Papa Olaf sat, and talked, and prayed together for hours while they waited for news of their loved one. Later, he would wonder how he ever got through those hours without breaking down.
It was during the last of those hours, though, that Papa Olaf had finally paused in his fervent, whispered prayers, the lilting sounds of his native tongue falling silent as he suddenly looked up at the doors that separated them from his wife. He’d stared for a few moments, as he had in the car, and then a soft smile had graced his lips. Still smiling, he had drawn a now exhausted Greg into his lap and held him tightly.
“It’s all right now, litt kanin, it’s all right. She’s going to be all right,” he whispered again and again, tears of relief soaking into his grandson’s hair.
“H-how do you know? The doctor ain’t been out yet.”
Papa Olaf had laughed, and placed a hand lightly on Greg’s chest.
“Someday, little one, someone will be held here, in your heart…the way your Nana rests in mine. And once you hold someone that close, your heart will always know where they are, and if they are happy, or sad, or hurt. My heart knows your Nana was very hurt, and for a while it thought she might leave…but someone you hold in your heart can never leave without you knowing. Now my heart tells me she will be all right, and that we will be together for a while longer.”
“Your *heart* tells you all that?” Greg had demanded, laying his head against his grandfather’s chest, as if expecting to hear the words echoing out of the old man’s shirt.
“Yes,” Papa Olaf said solemnly. “My heart tells me all that. Someday yours will, too, as long as you listen. It whispers, little one, so you must listen closely.”
He didn’t really understand all that Papa had been trying to tell him, but nonetheless it seemed important. And moments later, the doctor they had been waiting to see had finally come through the doors of the waiting room, proclaiming that his grandmother was out of danger and that they could see her in just another hour. A weight had lifted from his shoulders and he had collapsed into Papa Olaf’s embrace, laughing and crying at the same time now that the need to be brave and strong had passed.
Somewhere inside of his mind, a part of Greg tried to swim up through the syrup-thick haze of unnatural sleep that gripped him. There was something important he had to do, something he had to remember. Far, far away, an echo of pain to great to be borne was sounding, trying to get to him, to drag him down under its claws with a terrible assertion that the other half of his soul was gone, forever.
Except, it wasn’t.
Slowly, excruciatingly slowly, a pinpick of awareness grew in Greg’s mind. It sifted through the dreams of that horrible day of Nana’s heart attack and latched onto Papa Olaf’s words. Papa had always had a strange wisdom about him, as if he knew things that other people had long forgotten. It was that strange wisdom that Greg remembered now, even as the murky black of drugged slumber tried to pull him back down.
“*Someone you hold in your heart can never leaves without you knowing.*”
And sure enough, as Papa Olaf had predicted all those years ago, Greg’s heart whispered to him. And it told him not to despair, that the one it held was still with him.
“*Nick….come and find me.*”
* * *
Warrick’s living room looked as though a cyclone had ripped through it. The couch had been shoved back against one wall, the coffee table dragged askew, and the remnants of the hastily prepared meal Warrick had forced on him littered its surface. Grimacing at yet another report, Nick raised what had to be the seventh cup of coffee of the past several hours to his lips and gulped it down.
His head was pounding, the jury was still out on whether or not his stomach would actually accept the food, and all he wanted to do was fall onto the nearest horizontal surface and sleep. He couldn’t, though. He was not going to be able to rest until he had Greg back, safe in his arms where he belonged. Grissom and the others were working ‘round the clock—in fact the entire crime lab, both night and day shift, had pledged every spare moment to the case.
And not just the people assigned to the case. People had started pouring back into the building once word got around that Greg had disappeared. Off-duty, on vacation, coming off a three-day shift, it didn’t matter. They were all rushing in to help. Greg would be touched to realize just how well thought of he actually was. He *would* be, because he *was* coming back.
Throwing the report onto the pile of similarly discarded papers, Nick raked his hands back through his hair. He could feel the seconds slipping away with the dark tension of a slowly tightening noose. Grissom and the others may be working ‘round the clock, the entire crime lab may have turned out en force to get one of their own back, but it was up to Nick to get his lover back. Of that he had no doubt.
“*I’m coming, baby. Just hang on--*”
Another folder, another set of gristly pictures, another ream of reports, and still the teasing feeling that he was missing something. It danced along the edge of his consciousness, daring him to figure it out. A tiny piece of the puzzle, a crucial fact, something that would bring the picture into focus.
“*Damn it. Damn it, damn it, DAMN IT!*” With a sudden, angry cry, Nick flung the reports away from him, letting them scatter through the air like a snow shower. Furious, he whirled on the stacks of photographs, sweeping them off the coffee table with a single motion of his arm. His coffee mug was thrown against Warrick’s wall, shattering into a thousand pieces. Within seconds, Nick found himself at what looked like the center of a war zone, everything tossed and tumbled about. He sank to his knees in the middle of it all, stubbornly refusing to give in to the urge to cry like a little child. Breathing hard, he braced his hands on the floor in front of him, leaning down until his forehead almost touched the carpet.
“Get a grip, Stokes,” he muttered angrily. “This isn’t helping Greg.” Damn it all, he was *not* going to tell Olaf Hojem that his beloved grandson was dead because Nick couldn’t keep it together long enough to save him. Sucking in another fortifying breath, Nick opened his eyes…
And froze, staring at the photograph literally beneath his nose. He cocked his head to one side, staring intently at the image, then suddenly rocked back onto his heels, snatching the photograph up as he went.
“What the hell?!” The puzzle piece snapped into place, the picture focused.
And Nick Stokes was suddenly more scared than he had ever been in his life.
* * *
Black satin. For this night, nothing else but black satin would do. And candlelight. He had briefly considered simply allowing the moon to light his way, the thought of the icy, silver glow gracing the flesh laid bare before him sending delicious shivers throughout his being. But no, candlelight had won out in the end. It deepened the shadows, and yet leant a honeyed radiance to his captive’s skin that was utterly breathtaking.
Regarding the scene before him critically, he whistled under his breath as he decided on last minute adjustments. A few candles moved here, the satin sheets raised just a hair higher on Greg’s hips…enough to be modest, yet temptingly seductive. Not an easy line to walk. It had to be perfect, though. He was bringing his last piece into play tonight.
At last satisfied, he trailed a hand almost affectionately through Greg’s hair and down his face, cupping his cheek briefly, and running a thumb across his lips. Though the drugs should have worn off a while ago, the boy showed no sign of waking. The rattling grind in his chest had sounded worse when he had been brought into the room, and the killer wondered if there weren’t a few splintered ribs at work here. No matter, though. After tonight, it wouldn’t matter.
He hummed happily to himself as he rolled a surgical tray in from the hall, his grin broadening as he took in the way the candlelight gleamed off of the shiny steel blades. He had taken special care with this collection.
“It really would be a pity for us not to have more time together,” he said conversationally as he halted the tray by the bed. He gently tilted Greg’s head a bit further to one side, exposing his throat more fully. “There’s so much we can teach each other, so much we can all learn from each other. I hope you understand.” He casually picked up the largest knife and held it against the skin of Greg’s neck, admiring the picture it made. “Nobody ever has, before, but I think you might. I’m just sorry I wasted so much time.” He sighed mournfully and drew the blade downward, just enough to give the steel a taste of the sweet blood beneath the skin. “So much time, gone! And all because I couldn’t see past my own petty jealousies. I’m sorry for that, for squandering our time together…for not realizing sooner what you and Nick were. I used to hate you so much—it all came so easily to you, you know? You have such a quick mind, such a lot of energy, such an easy manner. No wonder Papa Olaf called you his little rabbit, eh?”
The knife was put aside, and the tray wheeled just a little closer to the bed, within easy reach. A tender kiss was pressed to Greg’s forehead, then ghosted downward, until the killer’s lips hovered just above Greg’s. But no, not yet. Not without Nick.
Another sigh, this one regretful, and the killer slid into the bed beside Greg, drawing him close without disrupting the way the candlelight fell on him.
“I can’t wait to meet Papa Olaf, by the way. He sounds like such an interesting person! Won’t he be surprised to see what we become? You, Nick, and me…it’ll be beautiful—just beautiful. Don’t worry, I’m not wasting anymore time. I see now, what you and Nick were brought to me for. I see, and I’ll make it happen. Just you watch."
He leaned over and delicately ran his tongue over the shallow cut he had opened on Greg’s throat, moaning softly at the taste of fresh-spilt blood. A soft giggle welled up in his throat as he leaned back against the headboard Greg’s head pillowed on his chest. Careful not to jostle the young man too much, he reached over onto the night stand and picked up the phone, dialing a number long ago memorized. Time to get the party started. This was going to be perfect…he couldn’t wait!
He held the blade up to the light admiring the refractions it caused. He layed it reverently next to the other gleaming blades. They were perfect, razor sharp, sanitized, and beautiful. Most importantly they were his. The thing on the bed was also his. Everything was perfectly clean, the teeth brushed and flossed, a bath given, it had cried beatifully during the ennama, it's nails clipped and filed smooth. Perfect. "I would get some sleep, we have a long night ahead of us. I wish we could start right now but Ecklie needs his sleep."
Greg looked up with disbelief on his face, "you are Ecklie."
He tilted his head back, his laughter having a slightly hysterical sound to it. "You say that with such finality. So so inconrivertial." He leaned in close his spearmint breath ghosting moistly over Greg's cheek. "I've got news for you little man. I'm not Ecklie." Greg's face reflected his complete and utter disbelief at the fact that his capture had just giggled. "Ohhh the look on your face! No, I'm David Dornan." Confusion flashed through Greg, was he Ecklie's idenitcal twin, a freakish look-a-like cousin, an evil from hell robot, some how all of those things seemed too soap operaish to exsit in the real world. "You haven't figured it out yet. Grissom would have figured it out." He stepped around quickly to the other side of the bed, leaning in close cheek to cheek whispering in Greg's ear. "Ecklie doesn't know I exist, that I watch him at work. He will wake up and shower and eat and go to work never knowing that you lay in his basement. Oh yes this is Ecklie's house. But this isn't just Eckile's body. Oh no," he smiled in such an innocent and pureway that it scared Greg, "Ecklie will never meet his other roomates."
"Mulitple Personality Disorder," Greg whispered in disbelief.
"Good night now." The the lights turned off and to Greg the utter blackness of the the beasment seemed final and so isolated he had no problem in crying quietly in the darkness if only to hear some acutal noise, enough to feel not quite so alone.
GSS RR Chapter 14 By Perpetual Motion
Nick burst into the main doors for CSI at a run and didn't stop until he was at Grissom's office. He tried to speak around the heaving breaths he was taking, but after two failed tries, and the discovery that his mouth felt like sandpaper, he stopped trying and accepted the glass of water Grissom held out to him. He held out the picture that was clutched in his hand. "Look-(gasp)-at-(gasp)-"
"Nick, sit down." Gil led Nick to the chair by his desk and sat him down. "Finish your water."
"I-(gasp)-" Nick forced himself to stop talking and take another sip of his water. It didn't help much. He was still panting heavily and was unable to actually finish a sentence. He slapped the picture on the desk, and jabbed a finger at his discovery. "There-(gasp)-right there."
Gil leaned down to see what Nick was pointing at. He pulled his glasses down from his forehead and looked again. "That's-"
"Yeah." Nick finished off his water and stood up. "And that means-"
"Yeah." Gil snatched the picture off his desk and grabbed Nick by the arm. "Come on, we have to get everyone together."
Nick stood to follow and nearly fell on his face as his vision browned out. "Oooh." He crumbled to the floor, grabbing the doorframe on his way down.
"I'm fine." Nick waved off Gil's sudden panic. "Just...tired."
"How long has it been since you've slept?"
Gil got Nick up on shaky knees and steered him towards the couch. "Lay down."
"I can't." Nick tried to get loose, but now that he'd nearly blacked out, he was dead on his feet. "Greg..."
"We'll come get you before we do anything, but you're no good to us nearly unconscious."
"Lay down, Nick." Gil put some authority in his voice and watched as Nick instantly responded. "I'm going to get everyone together and show them what you just showed me. I want you to stay here until we come for you, okay?"
"I-" It was a useless argument, especially since Nick's eyes were already closing.
Gil left him on the couch and walked into the hall. He grabbed a patrolman walking by. "I need you to stay outside this door and make sure the man on the couch doesn't go anywhere alone."
The patrolman looked Gil over. "Excuse me?" He sounded offended.
"Sit down. Stay here. Don't let that man go anywhere." Gil gave the man his hardest stare. "If I find out you didn't, I'll write you up. Jim Brass is a personal friend of mine." Gil smirked as the patrolman blanched and sat. He may have been ignorable, but no patrolman walked around the CSI building without fearing Jim Brass.
Gil continued down the hall, grabbing up the various CSI and techs who were working on the case. He got them to the conference table, sat them all down, and tossed the picture in the middle of the table. He waited.
Catherine saw it first. "That's-"
Warrick and Sara caught on at the same time and started asking the same question. "Are we-"
Archie summed it up for all of them. "Shit."
Greg Sanders Slash Round Robin Chapter 15 By Sajin
The team just stared at the picture on the conference table in disbelief there in one of the photo’s was an imprint of a particular shoe in the earth at one of the crime scenes. The footprint was a partial but there was no mistaking the design on the photo.
The letters “C” and “E” were unmistakable in the bottom of the shoeprint and everyone around CSI knew that Ecklie had all his shoes custom made and he was so proud of the fact that on the bottom tread of each shoe the letters were stamped into the shoe tread.
There had been a lot of debate around the office that this is what Ecklie used to walk on his enemies backs after he fired them or did something really mean to them.
The whole team and assorted tech’s around the table couldn’t believe what they were looking at.
Gil spoke up first and said “First thing we need to do is to go to the shoe manufacturer and get a sample of the tread for comparison and then go back out to the crime scene in this photo and pray to god the print is still there to get a whole print not just a partial and a sample of the dirt for trace to work with.”
“I am on the shoe print “ called Warrick as he ran out of the room.
“I will go after the cast from the shoe manufacturer” yelled Sara as she scrambled out of the room.
“I will be in the lab hurrying up everything as fast as I can so that when they are back with the samples I can do them right then” said Diane as she ran out of the conference room.
“Archie I want you to go over this print with a fine tooth comb! FIND me something, anything” Grissom demanded.
“I’m on it” announced Archie as he lit out of the room.
No one had ever seen Grissom in this state of mind since they found that small baby and he took over the case personally back then too. So with that in mind no one said too much or got in his way for the time being.
Catherine went to Brass’s office and informed him of the new development in the case. At first he was completely stunned like the rest of them. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing, but then the cop in him clicked into high gear.
“What do you want me to do post a lookout for Ecklie or anything?” asked Brass.
“No we don’t want him suspicious or anything till we gather more evidence. What you can do is go over his whereabouts during the past crimes and see if there is any anomalies in his work shifts for the time of the murders or anything else that is strange even for Ecklie.” answered Catherine.
“I’m on it. I will check back with you if I find out anything, Cath” mentioned Brass as he got back to work.
Catherine left Jim’s office and made her way back to see Gil. She passed the officer on duty beside Nick and looked in on him to make sure that he was okay.
“Is he doing okay still or has he woken up yet?” asked Catherine.
“N Ma’am he is still out like a light. Is everything okay about me doing this work with Capt. Brass I don’t want to get chewed out for standing around here like this all night?” asked the officer sweating.
“I just came from Brasses office and I explained what the situation was Office Marshall and Capt. Brass said you are on guard duty till further notice” commented Catherine.
Officer Marshall sighed in relief and smiled. “Thanks Ma’am I appreciate the word”.
Catherine saw Ecklie come into the lab just now. “Listen I am going add another order for you. And before you ask Brass has okayed this new one too. No matter what happens I am charging you with a great responsibility here. No matter what you are told or are told by Nick you are not to let him know or see that Conrad Ecklie is in the building or are you to let Ecklie have any contact with Nick. Do you understand me?” commanded Catherine.
“But….Ma’am you do know who Ecklie is don’t you?” stammered Officer Marshall.
“Yes I know exactly who he is and just so you know this order didn’t come from me it came straight from Brass himself and he said that if you let him down you will be pulling your worst duty imaginable processing the accident victims.” answered Catherine.
Officer Marshall went white as a sheet and stuttered out “Yess..Ma..am I understand”
“Good as long as we are clear on this subject” countered Catherine as she went to find Grissom.
“Before you tell me I know Ecklie is in the building Brass told me” announced Gil as Catherine entered the office.
“I let officer Marshall know within an inch of his life that if something happened between Nick and Ecklie he would be pulling the worst duty of his life. He won’t let us down believe me.” answered Catherine.
Just then two things happened in rapid succession. Warrick and Jim both came running into the office to tell Gil that they had new evidence.
Greg/Nick Round Robin 16 StarWindDancer ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Greg woke to the feeling of warmth and skin and the sound of a heartbeat. He smiled lazily as his mind cleared of the night's fog. Dreamily he kissed the flesh under his face before lifting his head to kiss Nick on the mouth.
"Mmm, interesting way to wake up," a voice, clearly not Nick's, said as a hand teased it's way up Greg's spine. Greg froze then quickly pulled away as he spat out the taste of another man. Ecklie (or maybe he should say Dornan) scowled at him, before yanking him by his hair and staring into his eyes. "There's no need for dramatics." He roughly kissed Greg, cutting off any tart reply he could come up with.
The evil Ecklie clone stormed out of the room after throwing Greg back onto the bed. Greg knew he was coming back and knew he had to do something. It was the first time in a long time that his head felt clear and he knew he had to fight. He picked up one of the six clean bedpans from under the bed (and why did Ecklie have 6 bedpans?) and positioned himself behind the door.
When Ecklie entered, he swung the pan with all his strength, clearly wanting to brain the guy to death. But despite feeling better then he had in days, he was no match for a very healthy and undrugged Ecklie. The older man ducked under his first blow, deflecting it with his arm. This incised his captor and was grabbed roughly and thrown bodily to the bed. A mad glint in Ecklie's brown eyes was all Greg could see as he felt those rough hands wrap around his neck and squeeze.
Greg tried to fight him off, struggled to throw off the body holding him down but the weight was unmovable. He thought fleetingly of Nick, apologizing to the cosmos that he hadn't planned his escape better, apologizing to Nick that he'd have to leave him behind but Ecklie loosened his grip and Greg took quick, deep and thankful breaths.
"Spirit, that's one thing I love about you, Greggo," Ecklie said, using the pet name but it sounded fowl on those lips. "But this is not the time for that spirit." The older man grabbed Greg roughly by the arm, tying a tourniquet. He tapped the vein and swabbed quickly before plunging a needle in. "Hush," Ecklie soothed as Greg whimpered. "In a few seconds everything is going to be all light and bubbly and you'll be ever so happy. Play nice and I may bring you back a surprise."
Greg struggled weakly but knew that this opportunity had passed. He could already feel the pink bubbled darkness foaming up to cover the bed and him.
David Dornan was very happy he followed his buddy Ecklie to work today, though he'd rather have stayed behind and watched the beauty in the basement.
Apparently he had to give Nick the benefit of the doubt. The man had obviously figured out his little clues and had the entire CSI building in an uproar. Of course they hadn't figured it all out otherwise Ecklie would be in cuffs right now. As it was the day supervisor was looking confused as everyone in the building threw frightened or angry glances his way. Dornan had to thank Ecklie's political contacts. If the CSI team arrested him without enough proof, Ecklie's friends and lawyers would have a field day with the night team, certainly breaking them apart.
He had to get Ecklie out of there fast but he knew that he had to pick up the missing part to the menage a trios.
Of course, finding Nick was easy. It was obvious he was still around, since he wouldn't leave until Greg was found. The fact that there was a uniformed fool guarding Gil Grissom's office made it very easy indeed.
Having made his plan and knowing the CSI building better then anyone, Dornan slipped into Ecklie's office. When the man came in trying to get away from prying eyes, Dornan clocked him, knocking him out cold. He smuggled the body quickly out, retrieving some choice items from his car.
Slipping back into the building was mere child's play.
Nick woke with a jerk, his heart pounding madly as he looked around in a panic. He half expected to see Greg's mangled corpse at his feet, such was his dream. Or nightmare.
He cried with relief, somehow knowing that Greg, his precious Greg, was still alive and he had a chance to save him. He shook the cobwebs out of his brain as he tried to figure out were he was. It took much longer then it should have and his head was still fuzzy when he put together the last memories. He was in Gil's office. He'd found evidence. A foot print at Greg's place, somewhere where no false evidence had been planted like at the other crime scenes.
Nick lurched off the couch, intent on finding out the latest as well as going to the bathroom. It surprised him when he felt a restraining hand on his arm and nearly panicked but the officer's voice was quick to explain.
"I know Brass would kill me but I'm pretty sure Catharine would get in the first shots if I let you go anywhere. You're supposed to stay right here until they come get you."
Nick would have been amused if he wasn't so tired and angry. He knew Catharine could do it, kick the officers and his butt. "I'm just going to the bathroom. I am allowed that?"
The officer nodded, checking the halls for Ecklie first. He so didn't want to know what would happen if the man was around. Nick, in his weariness didn't even note the officer's actions. He dully followed the officer (aka guard the Nick guy) to the bathroom. The officer stood sentry as Nick went inside.
Dornan smiled as he saw Nick on his feet, leaving the safety of the office. The hall way here was empty and he knew a quick escape route. All the activity was centered two hallways away where the rest of the pitiful night crew was digging thru evidence at a fast pace- since a lot of the evidence from Greg's locker and apartment as well as Nick's apartment hadn't been fully processed yet.
He made sure the gun was in easy reach before walking confidently down the hall, looking intently in a file he was holding. Almost absentmindedly, he turned to go into the men's' room, even though he was aware of everything around him. The officer held him back, stuttering that he couldn't go in there.
Dornan played the confused fool as he lowered the file to his side as his hand reached for his gun with the other hand. A swift move and the officer was out cold. Dornan smiled evilly as he stuffed the man into the janitor's closet. Making sure he'd stay there with duct tape.
That done, Dornan entered the men's room. Nick was at the sink trying to wash the weariness and tiredness from his face. Silently the killer walked up to Nick's bent form, pressing the gun to his hip.
Nick froze and Dornan assumed for a brief moment that this was going to be easy. That was until Nick reared back, trying to attack him. Dornan quickly cocked Nick, shoving the man into the mirror. It shattered and cut Nick.
Dornan had to grit his teeth. Too much evidence. Too much left behind but it didn't matter. Not when he was this close to finishing his masterpiece.
"And here I'd thought you'd be anxious to see the beautiful Greggo again?" Dornan said bitterly. He pressed the gun into Nick's ribs, his intentions clear. Nick swiped at the blood on his face, anger radiating off him in waves. "If you don't co-operate, Greg will be left all alone. Do you think you could find him in time, before he dies?"
"You bastard!" Nick yelled, pushing Ecklie away from him slightly. He knew he was tempting fate but the move aided him in grabbing Ecklie's ID tag off his coat without the other man noticing. He swiped his bloodied fingers over it, leaving a clear clue for his friends.
"Tut, tut. You'll only make this harder on yourself and him. Let's go." With that, Dornan lead Nick out along back ways and thru doors and corridors that were only used by support and janitorial staff. Places people avoided and never really thought of.
Dornan stuffed Nick into his car, next to Ecklie. He drugged his cargos and left the CSI building for the last time.
Someone was floating near him in the pink, bubbly ocean. Knowing the tricks the evil, evil Ecklie person was playing, Greg battered at it with his voice. Pounding the stranger away. He curled up on the top of his island and watched the stranger float along the tide pools.
In and out and around. Swish, swish.
The stranger tried a time or two to climb onto Greg's island but he pushed the body away, trapping it in the shoals.
This tired him out so he pulled up the moon and slipped back into sleep.
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