DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: To the lovely Debbie for the beta.
Just Another Night in Vegas
The water slides off my body onto the floor as I step from the shower to answer the ringing phone. Racing to the kitchen, I snatch the receiver from its cradle.
"Hello," I answer, slightly out of breath.
The voice of my lover makes me smile. "Sara? Did I catch you at a bad time?"
"Sort of, but it's my fault. I forgot to bring the portable into the bathroom so I'm creating a small pool of water on the kitchen floor," I reply as I curse myself for not thinking about grabbing a towel on the way to the phone.
"Sorry about that, and I'm also sorry for what I'm about to say," Sofia offers in an apologetic tone.
"Brass just called and said he needs me to work tonight. One of the other detectives called in sick, and he's going to need all available personnel tonight. Halloween brings out the wackos according to Brass," Sofia explains.
Well, shit; we haven't had any quality time in two weeks. What in the hell am I supposed to do all night on my own? There was a time, not so very long ago, when I would have welcomed a night alone, but it seems that lately I have developed a bad case of 'can't-be-without-Sofia.'
My pause apparently leaves Sofia with the wrong impression, and she quickly adds, "I couldn't say no; I don't have enough seniority. I know how much you were looking forward to us finally being off together. I was too, but I promise to make it up to you this weekend. I've managed to bargain with Brass for the weekend off in exchange for tonight."
"I'm not mad, Sofia, just disappointed. Hey, why don't we meet for breakfast in the morning and discuss our weekend plans?" I ask excitedly, hoping to deflect my frustration at the situation and, temporarily, forgetting I'm not off this weekend.
Sofia agrees, and we decide to meet at a quaint diner well off the strip. All I know is morning can't come fast enough for me.
Thirty minutes later, my phone rings again, and I'm actually happy to hear the sound of Grissom's voice.
"Sara, I've been asked to go to Reno to help out on a case. My entomology expertise is needed, and Ecklie has agreed to send me. Catherine will be in charge tonight, and she's going to need extra help. I need you to come in."
Acting put out, I reply, "You know I haven't had a night off in two weeks, Grissom. How come every time something like this happens, it's me that gets the shaft?"
Pausing dramatically, I add, "I'll make a deal with you. If I work tonight, then I get the entire weekend off, no on-call, no emergency calls, and no anything else."
Smiling, I hang up the phone; that was much easier than I thought it would be. I even agreed to come in early, allowing Grissom to think he was controlling the conditions of our agreement. Hell, I always go into work early.
My first case of the night sets the stage for the beginning of the weird and unusual. I slowly make my way to the body to find Sofia standing over the deceased shaking her head.
She looks up as I draw near and says, "I bet this guy had no idea his life would come to a spiny end."
There, lying on top of the young man, was a four-foot arm of a cactus.
"Seems Mr. Johnson here, and his friend, Mr. Adams, were having a bit of fun shooting at the cacti with their shotguns when Mr. Johnson met his match. According to his friend, Johnson chose this 25 foot specimen to shoot and only managed to wing it. The severed arm fell on top of him and apparently crushed him," Sofia reported.
Kneeling down next to the victim to gather evidence, it seems Sofia has nailed both the cause of death and guilty party all in one. All I need it for ballistics to confirm it, and the case will be closed.
I gather the spent shotgun shells and a few spines from the cactus, and Sofia walks me back to the Denali as we discuss what the night has in store for us.
"I hate Halloween. People do such idiotic things," I say, as I place my kit in the back of the truck.
"Sara, people do stupid things everyday. They don't need a certain day of the year to confirm their stupidity. Besides, I rather like Halloween," Sofia teases.
"What's so good about it?" I mutter softly.
"Well, you're guaranteed to get a little something in the sack," she replies tongue-in-cheek.
Rolling my eyes, I bid her good-bye as I climb into the truck to return to the lab.
It doesn't take Bobby long to match up the shells to the gun owned by Joe Johnson. This has to be the easiest case I've had in quite some time. It's just a shame the freak accident happened, but again I ask, what fool shoots a cactus in the first place?
My second case of weirdness isn't really a case at all. I guess you could say my eyes must be playing tricks on me because, when I walk into Catherine's office to give her my report and let her know I'm available, I could have sworn Wendy was massaging Catherine's shoulders. By the time I'm able to blink, Wendy is standing to the side of Catherine handing her a sheet of paper, and she quickly excuses herself and leaves the room.
Catherine looks up as if nothing happened and very calmly asks, "Can I help you, Sara?"
Shaking my head to clear the hallucination, I reply, "Just wanted to let you know my earlier case is wrapped up. It turned out to be an accidental death so I'm available if you need me."
Grinning almost evilly, she hands me another assignment sheet and offers, "This just came in. Have fun."
I glance down at the address to find it's at the Art Museum, and, so Catherine informs me, that Sofia is waiting for me to arrive. Well, at least I'll get to work with my lover again. Maybe this night won't be so bad after all.
Sofia meets me at the entrance and escorts me toward the back of the museum as she details the specifics of the case.
"Wow, we're two for two tonight. Although, this case is not as cut and dried as our other one. The curator, Mr. Sellers, always puts together a macabre type of display for Halloween. This year, he went with the depiction of the Puritan era, concentrating on the various forms of execution. His waxed figures were punished by beheadings, hangings, and a very interesting rendition of being burned at the stake."
We arrive at the display, and Sofia holds the rope up for me to enter the area. She follows closely behind and motions me toward the corner figure. Great, a beheading is just what I needed tonight.
I step around the lifelike wax figure and make my way to the body, and head, Sofia has pointed out. Upon closer inspection, I discover the reason for our presence. The woman without her head is not made out of wax.
"Sara, meet Mrs. Bowers, the assistant curator. Apparently, she has been part of the display for the entire day, and spectators believed she was one of the other wax figures. No one was the wiser until the security guard noticed the resemblance and went to check out the new addition," Sofia explains.
The scene is set up perfectly, and Mrs. Bowers does indeed look right at home amidst the other beheading victims. In fact, there appears to be very little blood so the beheading definitely took place elsewhere. Question is how does someone transport a body, minus its head, without someone noticing?
After interviewing the different security guards and museum employees, we have our number one suspect, Mr. Sellers. He is the only one with a key to this part of the museum, and the others were given strict instructions to stay out of this area after hours.
Sofia is busy procuring a search warrant for the premises and Sellers' house while I keep him busy asking about the different parts of the display. He is very animated when it comes to describing the details, and his love of the Puritans is apparent as he spouts off about the evils of pleasure.
A search of his home reveals a bloody garage and several large rolls of plastic. I'm guessing he removed her head and then wrapped her body and severed head in plastic, but how in the hell did he manage to get her to the museum without help?
Mr. Sellers consents to talk to us while we wait for the blood-typing results, and Sofia plays him like a well-crafted Stradivarius as he confesses to everything without batting an eye.
Mrs. Bowers was having an affair with another employee, a female employee, and Mr. Sellers took exception. My immediate thoughts center on the fact that he had a problem with gays, but Sofia manages to get him to admit that it was because she had sex outside her marriage, not because she chose a woman.
I wasn't very far off base because in his next breath, Mr. Sellers mentions that is was Mrs. Bowers' husband that had a problem with the 'gay' part of the affair. Game, set, and match, we now have the accomplice.
Back at the lab, Sofia walks me to the break room before heading back to headquarters to sign out. We are both pleased to find the room empty so we are able to engage in a little flirting before she has to leave. When Greg enters the room a short time later, Sofia excuses herself.
Walking to the door, she pauses and says, "Hey, Sara. I thought of another reason why I like Halloween. If you don't get what you want, you can always go next door."
Smirking, she strides out the room, leaving me with a chuckling Greg.
The other team members arrive shortly afterward giving me a reprieve from Greg's questions about whether or not Sofia gets what she wants. I'm just thankful Greg is holding true to his word about not telling anyone else about my relationship with Sofia.
We each profess to have the weirdest case of the night, and, as usual, no one gives an inch as we stubbornly believe in our own case. Greg's turned out to be an accidental drowning by a woman practicing the art of bobbing for apples, Warrick investigated a death due to hanging by a kid who was working on a stunt for his Halloween party, and Nick, well he hasn't gotten back from his case yet. Maybe he can cast the deciding vote.
Catherine comes in for a cup of coffee but refuses to choose between the odd cases. She declines by saying, "I'm not going to vote. They're all weird if you ask me."
Right on cue, Nick enters and immediately asserts, "No one's case can top mine."
Of course, the argument resumes, and Nick sits back grinning as he listens to the description of our unusual cases. He patiently waits for each of us to plead our case before he finally opens his mouth.
"I'll agree with Catherine. You guys definitely had a Halloween type of night, but none of your stories comes close to mine," the Texan boasts.
Greg and Warrick immediately protest Nick's claim, and the three men engage in a bit of 'oh yeah' and 'we'll see.'
I look over at a smiling Catherine and realize she knows exactly what case Nick was assigned to, and judging from the wattage of that smile, I'd say Nick is clearly going to be the winner.
Deciding to end the debate, I say, "Okay, guys. Let's see what Nick has to say about his case."
Greg and Warrick turn toward their friend and each raise their eyebrow in question. Nick laughs and begins his description of his night.
"There's this lunatic that camps out on Las Vegas Boulevard who claims to be a sorcerer. Everyone knows he's crazy, even the tourists. Well, earlier tonight, some kid thought it would be funny to make a big scene so he purposely bumped into the guy and then claimed to get a chill before loudly declaring that his penis was shrinking."
Warrick and Greg chuckle, and I can't help but smile, even though I'm fairly certain that something terrible must have happened to either the kid or the nut.
"Anyway, this tourist from India, who just happens to be highly superstitious, truly believed the guy to be a sorcerer and had heard from his grandfather all about evil sorcerers and what their magic could bring. He had actually heard a similar story about a sorcerer who touched an enemy causing their penis to shrink to half its size. When the nutcase approached the tourist to ask for money, the tourist pulled out a knife and stabbed him multiple times," Nick explains as Greg and Warrick nonchalantly cross their legs and place their hand in their lap.
"You win Nick, and I, for one, am just happy that the night is almost over. I'd hate to think a case would come in that could top yours," I offer in defeat.
A chuckle is heard from the doorway, and we all look over to find Sofia leaning against the door frame with a toothpick in her mouth. Damn, she is one sexy woman.
"Well, I was going to say that we have weird cases all the time, and that tonight was just another night in Vegas; however, my vote would have to go with Nick's case. Sorry, guys," Sofia offers in support of Nick.
Warrick and Greg suggest we treat Nick to breakfast and include Sofia in their plans while I have a silent panic attack. How can I possibly turn down breakfast with the team without arousing suspicion?
"Thanks for asking, but I'm going to have to decline. I've had a headache for the last couple of hours, and I just want to crawl into bed," Sofia states in an apologetic tone.
Damn, that was going to be my excuse. What can I come up with now? I can't very well say 'I'd like to crawl into bed, too, preferably with Sofia.'
"Oh, and Sara, would you mind driving me home? Brass needed to borrow my car for tomorrow," my lover smoothly asks.
"Sure, I'd be glad to. I think I'll head on home myself after dropping you off. Rain check on the breakfast?" I manage to reply.
"Okay, Sara, but next time you're buying," Nick says with a grin.
I follow Sofia to the door and almost run into her back when she stops abruptly.
"I almost forgot my favorite part of trick-or-treating," Sofia says turning back toward the group.
Smiling, she offers "Just remember, you don't have to compliment the person who gives you some."
Sofia grins and walks out of the room leaving laughter in her wake. Shaking my head, I turn to once again follow my lover.
We arrive at the small diner and are seated in a secluded corner booth. Sofia takes the seat next to me, and we somehow manage to keep our hands off each other, most of the time anyway.
The breakfast conversation is light especially after the horrors of the previous evening, and we each bask in the pleasure of each other's company. Soon our meal has been consumed, and we decide to go to Sofia's to get some 'rest.'
As Sofia begins to rise, I put my arm out to stop her progress when I see the two new customers entering the diner. My jaw drops as I watch Catherine take Wendy's hand and lead her in the opposite direction toward the restrooms. When they disappear from view, I quickly throw some cash on the table and urge Sofia to get up.
She laughs as she stands, and I grab her hand and pull her from the eating establishment as fast as my feet will allow. Holy shit, Catherine and Wendy?
When we reach the vehicle, I ask, "You don't think Catherine recognized my truck, do you?"
"No, she was too busy paying attention to Wendy," Sofia replies with a grin.
"I can't believe it. I always thought Catherine was straight as an arrow," I offer in complete disbelief.
"Sara, I never would have pegged you for someone who labels other people."
Putting the truck in reverse, I back out and reply, "I don't usually, but c'mon Sofia. Aren't you the least bit surprised that Catherine would have a relationship with another woman? I mean, ever since I've known her, she's had some guy tailing after her."
"Well, Wendy certainly isn't some guy, but I'll tell you what does surprise me," Sofia says, reaching out to take my free hand.
Squeezing her hand, I wait for her to continue.
"Frankly, I have to wonder what the two of them were doing heading toward the restroom. You and I both used the facilities at the lab before we left for the diner, but I do recall a time or two when we both went to the same restroom when we first started dating," Sofia adds.
A brief silence ensues while I work out exactly what Sofia is saying.
"When we first started dating? Oh, Lord. Surely, you don't think?" I say, stunned.
Sofia merely laughs in reply, and I try not to let my mind wander as to the specifics of what could possibly be going on in the diner's restroom.
Arriving at Sofia's condo, we walk hand in hand to her door. Sofia opens the door and says, "I lied to the others earlier about my favorite part of Halloween and trick-or-treating."
I tilt my head in question and Sofia murmurs, "If you get tired, you can wait 10 minutes and then go again."
Smiling, I follow her into the bedroom.
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