DISCLAIMER: CSI: Miami, CSI, and all its characters are the property of Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS Broadcasting. No infringement intended and no profit is made from this.
CHALLENGE: Submitted as part of the Vampires, Ghosts and Zombies challenge.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Not Exactly Undead...
Four Years Later
From within the depths of the wee hour darkness, a light blazed brightly, accompanied by a harsh buzzing noise. A small silver cell phone vibrated wildly. It rattled on the table it had been set on, almost alive in its fervor to be heard. Buried within the sheets, blankets, and pillows on the bed beside the table, an audible groan was heard from one of its occupants. A night off was a rare occurrence in their line of work, and it seemed their plans for a cozy night in had been foiled once more. Simply ignoring it was not an option, work had to be done when your job was catching the bad guys. As the cell phone carried on, another groan arose from the mound of bedclothes, followed by a slender hand snaking out towards the table. It slithered along, working its way toward the offending object in the way most sleep-ridden appendages do. Maximum results achieved with minimum effort. Finally touching upon the piece of electronics, it slammed down, only to catch the edge and have the phone skitter off the table and onto the floor, where it seemed to stare accusingly at its owner.
"Shit." A gravelly voice cursed quietly, sliding under the covers to snatch up the phone. Quickly flipping it open, the buzzing ceased, only to be replaced with the aforementioned gravelly voice. "Curtis."
There was a pause as the other end spoke. Sofia Curtis was not a person who woke up easily, and her mind was still halfway to la-la land. She had a feeling though something was off; she just couldn't place what it was. It was only when the voice on the other end mentioned "Catherine" did she realize her error. Her phone was still in the truck. This was not her phone. Sofia winced, knowing this would only end badly. Putting a hand to her forehead, she glanced over to her peacefully sleeping companion. Catherine Willows lay buried under two pillows and a blanket; an arm snaked around Sofia's waist. A smile crept over the detective's lips as she watched her lover sleep. Brass's voice continued in the background, but she was far from attentive. God she was beautiful, and she looked so peaceful like that, just-
Sofia jumped, nearly dropping the phone. "Sir?"
"Did you hear a word I just said?"
The argument between telling the truth and getting ragged for the rest of her natural life, and fibbing enough to get information was a strong one. Sofia opted for a happy medium. "No sir, I didn't, I'm a bit groggy. What was it you said?"
Brass sighed heavily on the other end. "I said, since you and Catherine seem to already be together," Sofia cringed at his tone, but let the man continue, "why don't you both head down here. We're looking at a 419 I don't think neither of you want to miss."
"What is it?"
"Oh, I don't want to ruin the surprise."
Rolling her eyes, Sofia gave a sigh herself, "All right Captain, we'll be right there." She scribbled the address on a pen and pad that were also on the table, and hung up the phone. Catherine stirred and sighed, tightening her grip on Sofia's waist. Sofia gritted her teeth, hating to ruin the perfect night together they'd planned, but as always, duty called. Gently placing her hand on the strawberry-blonde's shoulder, she shook the older woman slightly, "Cath, wake up. C'mon honey, wake up."
"Mmmm what time is it?"
A cursory glance at her watch nearly drew a string of curses from the blonde's lips, but she withheld them, choosing instead to simply inform her partner of the time. "It's almost three, hon."
Catherine swore softly, and drew herself into a sitting position. Covering her face with her hands, she raked her fingers through the reddish-blonde curls. "They just love screwing with us don't they?"
With a sigh, Sofia nodded in agreement. "Come on, we better go."
"Jim, please don't tell me that you called me, on my night off, I might add, to show me a man with a wooden stick through his chest. Please tell me that's not why I'm here."
Detective Jim Brass looked up to see two women watching him sleepily; the lights from the not far off strip gave both of them a strange, multi-colored glow, Catherine's hair changing from the familiar strawberry blonde to an almost unearthly golden, while Sofia's eyes seemed to flash with greens and blues. Poetics aside, they both looked exhausted and irritated. Jim knew he would have to sell this well to pique both their attention. Choosing not to acknowledge the fact that both women had arrived in the same vehicle, not to mention the phone incident earlier, Brass just smiled. He knew better. Sofia looked amiable enough, but Catherine looked like she could bite through steel. He'd known the woman long enough to be aware that interrupting her night off was like dentistry with un-anesthetized feral animals. But Brass knew it was worth it, seeing as it was much more than a guy with a wooden stick shoved through his chest.
"It's much more than that, my dear. Do you know who the victim is?" He gestured vaguely to the alley in front of which they were standing. The victim was barely visible in the dim light, only illuminated by the occasional flash of Greg's camera as he processed the scene. "That's Jimmy 'The Fish' Smith."
Catherine's blue eyes widened, "Jimmy The Fish? Got the nickname for being able to make his bosses' problems sleep with the fishes?"
Sofia gave the famous eyebrow raise, interested despite her exhaustion, "Second in command to the Ginellis, premier crime family in Vegas from the thirties to the sixties?" She paused, re-treading old case files, "I thought he was dead, killed in a police shootout or something."
"It was a car chase;" Catherine interrupted bluntly, "he made off with a couple hundred thousand of the Ginellis money after their businesses went down. Cops caught up with him just outside of Henderson, took out his car and him. Coroner said he counted at least twenty-five bullet holes on site." Her eyes suddenly grew distant, "It was all over the news, and I remember Sam Braun mentioning it to my mother." Deeming her information session over, Catherine pulled her case closer and disappeared into the alley.
Brass watched the redhead retreat into the darkness before turning back to Sofia. They shared a silent, mental shrug, neither having yet understood the mercurial blonde and her vague ways. It was rare for Catherine to speak about her past, especially anything to do with casino boss Sam Braun. His many crime connections had made for many headaches at the CSI Crime Lab, and he wasn't on good terms with Catherine herself. Sofia shook her head and sighed; Sam Braun as Catherine's father had never been something she was comfortable with, as most of the crime lab knew, but she was slowly learning to deal with it.
With a knowing smile, Brass continued the story that Catherine had told, "Yes, but what the news and the general public was never let in on, was that after the infamous shoot-out, the body was taken to the morgue and then never seen again."
Sofia's eyebrows were in grave danger of becoming permanently affixed to her hairline, "Never seen again? How does the Las Vegas Morgue lose a body?"
Brass just shrugged, "I dunno, but he was gone. Kaput. Vanished. I mean the guy was dead. Pushing up daisies, kicked the bucket, kablooey, he was dead. There was a huge investigation into the matter, coroner almost got fired. Lasted almost a year, but there were never any leads and the case went cold."
Sofia gave a wry laugh, glancing into the alley, "Well, I guess the case has been officially reopened."
The alley reeked of all things disgusting, par for the course of being next to a greasy diner. Rotting food co-mingled with the tantalizing smell of feces and something wholly indescribable. Catherine wrinkled her nose, but chose not to voice her disgust as she knelt next to Greg Sanders. The younger CSI gave the barest of nods, seeming to sense her repulsion. Trying to ignore the horrible smell, Catherine focused her attention on the body. He looked to be in his late thirties, tall and gaunt, with graying brown hair and a haggard appearance. His clothes however, were a different story. They were top-notch, Armani, Versace, somewhere in that price range. Catherine huffed irritably, his clothes were worth more than she made in six months. But what was he doing in this back alley, looking like an extremely under-fed and unwashed businessman? A man like him, with his connections should've been sipping margaritas in Cancun, not schlepping it in Vegas. Especially not in an alley that smelled like rotting corpses, outside a crappy diner near the strip. Catherine inspected the man closer, noticing a bruise coming to color above his eye, and a split lip.
"Looks like he got roughed up before he bought it." She mused dryly.
Greg just nodded in agreement, poking around the body for any evidence. Catherine paused from her own inspection, an idea tugging at the back of her mind. Greg's voice interrupted her, voicing her idea.
"You know, for having been supposedly dead for thirty-odd years, I'd say Jimmy's looking pretty good, wouldn't you Cath?" Greg gave a goofy grin.
Catherine just shook her head. Turning her attention to the huge spike driven through the man's chest, Catherine studied it closely. "It looks just like some piece of wood. Like someone just picked up a random fragment. But to get it all the way through like this, that takes some strength."
"You know what I'm thinkin'?"
She could see a smile spreading across the young man's lips as she looked up from her notes. One and one became two as she put the puzzle pieces together and a grin spread across her own lips. "You gotta be kidding me." Catherine chuckled; the kid had some strange ideas. Sure, she and Warrick had handled something somewhat like this before, but that just like this, could be solved with hard science, not superstition and hocus pocus. "Vampires? Please." And with that, she rose to check out the rest of the alley.
Nothing seemed to be out of the ordinary, just a regular, filthy back alley. A crusty, hulk of a dumpster stood outside the diner's side door, reeking of various rotted food; various old boxes and debris was scattered across the pavement, suggesting evidence of a struggle. Catherine stepped gingerly over what appeared to be month-old remnants of some sort of fruit and pieces of what used to be a crate to get a better look at the dumpster. A dark patch of what she hoped to be fresh blood was stuck on the edge of the metal box.
"Must've been a struggle before he died," Catherine called back, "I think there's some blood on the dumpster here."
Setting her case down, Catherine opened the metal container to pull out a swab to check to see if it was blood. Taking a good sample from the edge, Catherine confirmed it was blood, bringing a satisfied smile to her lips. It could've been there for an ungodly amount of time, but blood evidence was blood evidence, and any evidence was going to be a boon in this case. Handling the murder of a man who'd supposedly died 30 years previous was going to be a mountain of red tape and paperwork, not to mention a media nightmare. They needed evidence. Tucking the swab into a bindle, Catherine checked over the rest of the dumpster, seeing if there was anything else to collect that might help. As her gaze wandered over the stinking mess, the hairs on the back of her neck suddenly rose. The uncanny feeling that she was being watched began to form a knot in her stomach.
But that was ludicrous, why would someone be in the alley? The officers had checked the scene and-
"Don't shoot me please!"
There was a flash of blue and brown; Catherine jumped back, biting back a scream of surprise. Her flashlight fell to the ground, sending a ghostly glow to this intruder. Despite her training, Catherine refrained from pulling out her weapon; halfway realizing that anyone yelling "don't shoot" isn't usually armed. Catching her breath, the CSI grabbed her flashlight, trying to get a better look at the person standing behind the dumpster. A young woman stepped forward, hands up in surrender, eyes wide and terrified. She seemed sober enough; her movements steady enough for her situation. She couldn't have been more than 17 or 18 years old, with inch-long neon blue hair and brilliant green eyes. Most would've figured her for a street kid, but Catherine's fashion conscious eye alerted her to the fact that most street kids didn't wear several hundred dollars worth of clothing. She looked like she'd just walked off the runway with duds she had on.
The kid was shaking her head, saying something about how she was clean, that she didn't know anything. Catherine held up her hand, signaling for the girl to be quiet. The kid took the hint and shut up, dropping her hands to her sides. Catherine seized the moment to size the kid up. Not street, but not one of the rich kids who liked to pretend they were badasses. The kid still looked shaken up, but she was calming down quickly, something Catherine noticed as a little odd. Normal suburban kid would still be having the jitters weeks from now, but this one was cool as a cucumber only two minutes after coming closer than most would've liked to having a gun in her face. "You aren't going to arrest me or anything are you?" She asked, eyes big and innocent.
The angelic thing was cute, but Catherine wasn't buying it. This kid may have looked young and wide-eyed, but there something about her, something off. The older woman couldn't put her finger on it, but a little voice in her head was telling her not to trust the kid. The girl took a step or two forward, expression still trying for frightened, but body language easy and relaxed. Her hands were in her pockets, shoulders loose, and her stride slow and languid. Suburbanite she was not. Catherine could almost see ideas clicking behind those incandescent eyes, but what they were she had no idea. There was something predatory about her, something primal. Catherine had to keep her talking, keep her in that spot. Somehow, she knew a gun wouldn't be much good against this young woman.
"What's your name?" Catherine asked, wondering where the hell everyone was.
"Katharine White. What's yours?" Katharine gave an outwardly anxious smile, coming to a stop a few paces away from Catherine. Her gaze locked with the older woman, and Catherine could feel her knees go weak. This was crazy, she was just giving into the silly superstitious ideas that Greg had planted in her mind. There was no such thing as-
Her eyes. There's something about her eyes.
Both jumped at their name, with Catherine snapping back into reality. She had to get a hold of herself. But there was something about those eyes. Something was wrong with them. She just couldn't figure out what. Catherine turned to see Sofia and Brass hurrying down the alley towards them, Greg not far behind. Upon seeing that neither was armed, Sofia and Brass re-holstered their weapons. Sofia came forward slightly, eyes asking if everything was all right. Catherine gave the barest of nods to reassure the younger woman. Sated, Sofia stepped back, turning her attention to the suspect at hand. Brass flipped his badge, returning to his duty.
"Detective Brass, LVPD, wanna tell me what you're doing out here? This is a crime scene."
Katharine appeared to think it over for a moment. The four waited, all wondering what this strange young woman was going to say. Her mouth opened, but she was silent, turning instead, and taking off in a dead run down the alley. Sofia growled in frustration, pausing only to take Catherine's hand in hers and give a quick smile, before taking off after the suspect. Brass just sighed wearily and pulled out his radio to call for back up.
Dazed, Catherine stood there and watched the two figured disappear into the darkness. She had a sinking feeling this case was going to be a long one.
Down the alley, Elizabeth Kahne took a flying leap over a few trashcans, trying to land, but only succeeding in losing her footing and coming crashing down on her knees. She was still exhausted from the previous week, and it was finally taking its toll. She recovered quickly and kept running, trying to keep the pretty blonde woman at bay.
Elizabeth Kahne was in big trouble.
To Be Continued
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