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Meeting the New Girl
The corridors weaving through the labs were surprisingly quiet and, for a moment, Sofia began to worry that something terrible had happened; it wasn't often that she managed to traverse the halls in this particular building without being assaulted with Hodges' whining voice extolling his imaginary virtues to some poor soul or other. Yet there was no sign of the man.
Poking her head into Bobby Dawson's little enclave of Southern charm and gunpowder, she was once again met with silence and empty air. His chair stood in the middle of the room, as if hastily thrown back as its occupant rushed to be elsewhere; the computers left to hum quietly, in the unusual peace, their screens blank and uninformative.
The sound of laughter split the silence and Sofia turned in its direction; she'd recognise Mandy's bark of laughter anywhere, but on entering her domain she was once more met with silence. The sound of laughter again drifted through the halls, but this time the sound was one hundred percent Archie, and coming from further down the corridor and away from his suite of electronic gizmos.
Sofia had only dropped by the labs to check something with Jackie; having, long since, given up on the idea that Sara would inform her directly of non-probative analysis relating to her case. She could have just phoned in for the results but, despite everything, she missed the labs and in particular the technicians who kept it all working. Turning to her left, Sofia headed toward the DNA lab, and the last possible location of the laughter; she had ruled out Grissom's office without thinking. She hadn't been in that particular lab since Mia's departure and she had never, she was sure, been near the place when it was full to the gills with rapt technicians crowded around a computer monitor pointing and laughing at whatever was on screen.
"What's going on?" she asked Henry, who was perched precariously on a lab stool peering over Bobby's shoulder.
His smile and words were both cut short as he appeared to remember something and, all at once, he issued the word 'Cop!' and the entire room went silent, before one by one they scurried out of the lab, a furtive 'Hello Sofia' crossing all their lips. In seconds she was alone; or, at least, alone expect for the stranger currently grinning in her direction.
"What's going on?" she repeated, although her tone had descended from friendly enquiry to suspicious cop and was very close to landing on interrogator with a grudge. "Who are you?"
"Wendy Simms." Wendy held out her hand, the formal gesture accompanied by a beaming smile that caught Sofia completely off-guard. "I'm the new DNA girl."
"Sofia Curtis." Wendy didn't appear inclined to release Sofia's hand, so she quickly added, "Detective Curtis, LVPD."
"I know all about you," said Wendy, her smile turning dangerous as she took a step closer to the blonde. "You're the one who slept with Ecklie to get a promotion."
"That's a lie!" Sofia yanked her hand back, her face set in a mask of indignation as she prepared to eviscerate the impertinent interloper. "I got that promotion on . . ."
"I know." Wendy's laughter further infuriated Sofia, but she didn't resist when the other woman placed a gentle hand on her arm. "Jackie told me all about it."
"Then why . . . ?"
"Super Dave said you were hell on wheels when you were riled, and I just wanted to see it for myself."
"Dave?" That didn't sound like the coroner's assistant. "I don't believe you."
"Well, he might not have used those exact words, but that's what he meant." Wendy thought her description was far more appropriate than Dave's cautious appreciation; he was a lovely guy but when it came to describing sultry anger, he was out of his depth. "So I thought I'd see for myself."
"You deliberately bated me just so you could see me get mad?" Sofia knew the labs tended to attract oddballs but that was ridiculous. "Are you crazy?"
"No according to my last psych evaluation."
"You have them regularly, I'm sure."
"Oh, sarcasm too, Dave didn't tell about that." It hadn't been intentional, but somehow Wendy had managed to glean quite a bit of information about the former CSI turned detective since she joined the team. There had been the gossip, mostly revolving around Ecklie and Grissom, which more informed sources had told her to ignore, and plenty of comments on her intelligence and beauty; she suspected Archie had something of a crush, but Dave had been the only one to express just how sexy the woman could be. "Any other secrets I should be made aware of?"
Sofia couldn't believe the impertinence. "I'm not sure what people have been saying but I am not . . ."
"Good things," Wendy interrupted. "They rather like you, down here, among the microscopes and petri dishes." Her looked turned serious. "You're one of the only cops who takes our work seriously, and that's appreciated, more than you know."
Compliments made Sofia uneasy and compliments from beautiful strangers who knew far too much about her just tripled that unease. "I need to find Jackie," she motioned toward the exit, but somehow managed to stop herself from taking a step back, "she has my results."
"Do you want to go for dinner?"
Wendy was beginning to think the women in Vegas had some kind of mental block when it came to meals; first Catherine looked at her as if she was mad, and now Sofia was sporting an exact replica of the look. "Dinner," she enunciated. "With me."
"Because starvation is so last season." She was becoming exasperated. "I thought we could get to know each other better over dinner." Catherine, after realising she wasn't being hit on, had agreed to lunch, in the break room, to discuss the various personalities of the people in the lab. It had been an odd encounter but one that had led to them being friends, of a sort, and the occasional meal and gossip session when their schedules permitted. "I promise not to bite."
Sofia looked even less inclined to agree.
"Okay, then I promise I will bite," Wendy's grin infused her words and brought the tiniest flicker of a smile to Sofia's lips. She was about to promise, as she had with Catherine, that she wasn't hitting on her but, in all honesty, that would be a lie, so she settled for, "and you'll like it."
Sofia hadn't been sure, up until that point, whether or not Wendy was flirting, but as the realisation struck, she found herself relaxing in the woman's company for the first time. Dealing with unwanted come-ons was a skill she'd mastered in junior high, and the years she'd spent working with Ecklie had honed that particular skill into an art form. 'I'm sorry,' she'd meant to say, but somehow it came out "Okay."
"Okay?" It wasn't the most effusive response but Wendy would take it. "How about I pick you up at seven?"
"Why wait?" She passed over a pad and pencil. "Write down your address."
Sofia scribbled her details on the paper. "Just a friendly dinner," she affirmed.
"Very friendly." Wendy didn't have time for those types of games. "Date friendly."
The sane and rational part of Sofia's mind was screaming at her to cancel the date and get as far away from the new girl as possible. Apart from a teasing smile, gorgeous face and warped sense of humour, Sofia didn't know a thing about her, and that could only lead to trouble. But . . . "I have to go." She passed the paper back to Wendy and strode out of the lab before she had a chance to change her mind. It was only one meal, she kept telling herself, and if the worse happened she could always feign an emergency and hightail it out of there. Somewhat mollified by her exit strategy, it wasn't until she was halfway to her next crime scene that Sofia remembered the suspect film playing on Wendy's monitor.
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