DISCLAIMER: CSI and its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

By Ann


I pack up my gear in my kit and grab the evidence bags as I stand. I'll certainly be glad to leave this crime scene. How anyone could have a pet snake is beyond me, but this guy must have been nuts to have all these containers full of snakes.

Shivering at the thought of even one of them getting out, I quickly exit the room and head for the front door glad to finally be free of the reptiles. As I round the corner, I run right into a solid body causing both of us to hit the floor.

"Shit, Sara. I'm sorry; I didn't realize you had finished," Sofia apologizes as she helps me to my feet.

I pick up the spilled contents of my kit and haphazardly stuff everything back in it while she gathers the evidence. Unable to properly close the lid due to a broken clasp, I manage to lift it from the bottom to carry it to the truck. There's no need to try to repack it; I'll just get a new one when I get back to the lab.

Together, we exit the house and head for the open back doors of the Denali. Securing everything in place, I close the doors and walk to the driver's side. Just as reach for the door handle, Sofia calls out to me.

"Hey, Sara. I need to get back to headquarters, and I'm without a car. I rode with the uniforms, and they are going to stay until animal control can get here. Think you can give me a lift?"

"Sure, climb in," I reply, and she quickly jogs around to the passenger side.

Putting the car in gear, I back out and turn onto the dirt road which leads to the highway. I'm more than ready to get out of these woods. Normally, I like camping and the outdoors, but something about this whole case gives me the creeps.

"Why do you think the victim had all those snakes?" Sofia asks as we start down the road.

"Beats me, but you would think he would have been more careful with the venomous ones. I'm fairly certain Doc Robbins is going to confirm his death was caused by snakebite. I just wish we could have found the culprit. One of those cases was empty," I reply with another shiver.

As we make our way down the road, I feel a ghost of a touch on my leg. I quickly glance at Sofia to see if perhaps she is making a pass at me but am disappointed to see her hands in her lap, and there is no way she can reach over here with her leg. She'd have to almost straddle the center console.

A couple of minutes later, Sofia asks, "Sara, um, did you just touch my leg by any chance?"

"What?" I reply as I nod toward my hands on the steering wheel.

Silence ensues until suddenly we both get an inkling of a hopefully unlikely possibility. Neither of us says a word, but our expressions speak volumes. I gently apply pressure on the brakes and come to a complete stop while Sofia holds up three fingers.

I put the car in gear, and she slowly begins to lower her fingers one by one. The moment the last digit joins the others, we both jump out of the car.

Simultaneously, we each slam our door shut and whip our flashlights up to aim in the window. I almost faint on the spot when I see the rather large snake sitting on the floorboard, and Sofia's reflection in the glass on the other side mirrors my own.

I quickly walk around to her side so that we can shine our lights at the same angle. Holy shit, that's one big ass snake. The light begins to waver as both our hands shake at the same time.

Next thing I know, I've got a detective attached to my neck.

Whispering in my ear, she confesses, "I really, really hate snakes."

I put my arm around Sofia and hold her close until her body finally stops trembling. Hell, I'm scared too, but we can't both be scared. Can we?

"What do you think we should do?" I ask Sofia as I shine the light back on the snake while my limpet stays attached to my side.

"Shoot it," is the detective's only response.

"Sofia, we can't shoot it. What if he or she is the killer?"

My attachment doesn't have a reply to my question so I ponder exactly what we can, or rather, should do.

"Okay, animal control is on their way. They can't get to the house unless they go down this road so we wait and flag them down. They can get this one first, and then we can be on our way," I answer pleased with my ability to think in this situation.

Sofia nods her head so I take that as an agreement to my plan.

Since we will probably have a bit of a wait, I decide to sit on the hood of the truck and at least get comfortable.

As I take a step away from the Sofia, she pulls me back and asks, "Where are you going? Don't leave me here with that thing."

If she weren't truly scared, I would laugh my ass off. Here she is with a cannon of a gun on her belt, and she's holding onto an unarmed woman. I had put my gun in the back with my kit so I don't know how she thinks I can keep her safe.

"I'm going to sit on the hood and wait for animal control. There's no way I'm going back to that house, and I don't want to have to stand around and wait," I reply as I begin to walk to the front of the truck with Sofia matching me stride for stride.

Standing in front of the hood, I try to figure a way to climb up in tandem since Sofia still has a hold of my arm. I step on the bumper and pull Sofia up with me, but now the problem remains as to how to turn us around, and I can only come up with one solution, she's going to have to release me.

"Sofia, you need to let go for just a second until we can get turned around," I softly explain as the grip on my arm tightens instead of loosens.

Eventually, she sees reason and slowly lets go. I pivot and sit, and Sofia follows suit. The minute we're both facing forward, she scoots close and leans against me. As I put my arm around her shoulder, she places her hand around my back and leans her head against me mimicking a position I have thought about on more than one occasion.

We sit in silence for the next few minutes as I revel in my current position and Sofia uses me for support. Animal control can take their time getting here.

"Sara, how do you think that snake got in the truck?" Sofia asks in a small voice so unlike her usual confident one.

"Um, the doors were open to the Denali, but I don't see how it could slither up into the back. There's no way it could get in from the underside so I don't have a clue," I answer as I try to work out how the damn thing could have possibly accomplished the feat.

"What about your kit?" A more controlled and confident voice asks as Sofia seems to be relaxing a bit now that we're working through the puzzle.

My kit? Now that would be plausible. It's deep enough to house a coiled up snake of that size, but that would mean that I put stuff on top of it and picked it up when I lifted my kit.

Shit, now I'm the one trembling. Please tell me I didn't have that scaly reptile in my arms.

I must have said that last part aloud because Sofia is softly stroking my hair and has pulled my head against her chest in yet another position I have dreamed about.

At least it's good to know that we're taking turns freaking out. I'd hate to see what we'd do if we were to both lose it at the same time.

Regardless, I'm going to enjoy every minute of being in her arms even if it's only because she's comforting me.

"You hair is so soft," Sofia whispers as she continues to stroke the filaments in question.

Closing my eyes, I almost hum in pleasure. Yes, animal control can definitely take their sweet time.

The strokes move to my neck and back, and I find myself moving my hands up and down Sofia's back as well. Slowly, I lift my head and look into her moonlit eyes.

"Sofia?" I manage to ask right before she leans forward and makes contact with my lips.

I move my hand up to cup her face as our gentle kiss continues. This is the stuff my dreams are made of.

Lights shine from down the road, and I reluctantly break off the kiss.

Caressing her face, I smile and utter just one word, "later."

As the vehicle draws near, I hop down off the hood and pull Sofia with me. We easily fall back into our professional demeanor as I stand tall and Sofia leans against the truck.

The car stops directly in front of us, and I make a move to walk toward it when Sofia suddenly grabs my arm.

"Sara, look." She says as she points toward the windshield of the Denali.

Squinting, I can just make out the snake lying across the dash looking back at me.

The damn thing looks very pleased, and it even appears as if he's smiling, almost as if he knows exactly what he has accomplished.

Well, he may very well have been a matchmaker for Sofia and me, but there's no way I'm taking him home with me. Now, Sofia on the other hand . . .

The End

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