Greg laid on his side, waiting for a doctor to come back with his release papers. He looked up when the curtain was pushed back and Catherine came in. She crossed her arms, smiling.
“If you’ve come here to laugh at me, leave. I’ve already made them take Warrick out.”
“Maybe you should just take the night off. I mean, technically, you were shot and I can approve the leave,” she told him
“I now have two cases I haven’t been able to do any work on because I’ve been here.” Greg slapped the bed.
Catherine pushed fingers against her lips to stop from laughing.
She dropped her hand, her humor suddenly gone. “Greg, I know this is embarrassing, but—”
“You weren’t shot in the ass in front of a bunch of cops and co-worker, were you?”
She smiled, shaking her head. “No. I’m sorry. Look, your cases will be there tomorrow. Just take the night off. The universe is trying to tell you to just go home.”
“My cases and a dozen others are waiting for me. I can’t just go home. What is taking Grissom and Nick so long?”
“I don’t know. I’ve called him a few times and he won’t tell me what’s happening, just that they are still hung up at their first call. Greg, go home. Warrick and I can handle the rest of the night.”
“No. It’s just… a little… gun… shot.”
Catherine closed her eyes tight and rolled her lips together to stop the laughter.
“Get out. Get out!”
“I’ve got another call for you two. Do you want Warrick to wait for you?”
She left and went out to the waiting room. Warrick looked up at her, drying his eyes.
“I think he wants you to wait,” she told him.
Warrick started laughing again.
“Warrick, you have to stop. I mean, he was shot.”
“In his butt!”
“It’s still getting shot. Be nice.”
Warrick fell back in his chair laughing.
“Do I need to give you the trash dump?”
“No,” Warrick told her.
“Then be nice to him. I think he might be losing his sense of humor.”
“Getting shot in the ass does that to a person,” Warrick howled.
She laughed a little.
“I’m… Going to work. Be nice to Greg.” Catherine left. She started laughing when Warrick’s laughter grew louder.
Maybe leaving him with Greg wasn’t the best idea tonight.
Nick slowly paced the bathroom, hands on hips, as he thought. Mason sat on the toilet, leaned against the wall. He glanced at his watch. A half hour had passed and when he looked at Mason’s pale face, he knew that half hour was too long. Nick stopped at the door.
“Grissom?” Nick called.
“Any ideas yet?”
“No. Just a lot of arguing about them still.”
Nick resumed his pacing. He looked at the shower curtain when he passed this time. The curtain was a matte black and silver and while not something he would have chosen, it caused a creative nerve in his brain to grin.
“I know what we’ll do!” Nick turned to her. “We’ll put you in a body bag and get you to the ambulance. The press doesn’t really care about the dead people, just the live ones, so we can sneak you right past them.”
“You want to put me in a body bag?”
“Only to get you out of here.”
“I don’t think I can do that.”
Nick crouched in front of her. “It’ll be fine. And if you want, we could turn it inside out so you can zip it and unzip it. Then we can get you on a gurney and get you out of here. They’ll never know; it’ll be the perfect disguise.”
Mason stared into his eyes. She reached out and brushed her fingertips against his cheek.
“I don’t know why I trust you, but I do.”
Nick smiled, catching her hand and squeezing it. “So we can do this?”
Nick got up and trotted to the door. He opened it a crack, finding Grissom standing with his back to the door.
“Have an idea. We need a coroner, a gurney, and a body bag.”
Grissom looked at him. “Okay.” He walked over to Brass and passed along the request.
“SHUT UP!” Brass yelled and the room fell silent. “We know what we’re going to do. David, where are you? Are you still here?”
“Back here,” David called from somewhere at the back.
“We need a body bag and gurney. Hurry up.”
“A body bag?” the DEA woman asked.
Brass smiled at her. “I think we’re going to kill your informant.”
“What?” she asked.
“Just for a little bit. Then we’ll open the bag and she’ll be as good as new.”
The DEA agent didn’t get it. Brass smiled more.
The crowd of people separated as David came in.
“Clear out of here, people. Let’s give her a little privacy,” Brass ordered.
David and Grissom stayed behind.
“Turn the body bag inside out,” Nick told David.
“Yeah. So the zipper can be done from the inside.”
David did as he was told. Nick turned to Mason.
“Okay, Mason. Time to go.”
She tried to get up but was too weak. Nick tried to help her to her feet, but her legs were too shaky.
“Can I carry you?” he asked.
Nick picked her up.
“Get the door, Grissom.”
Grissom pushed it open and stepped back. Nick carried her to the gurney and with David’s and Grissom’s help got her into the bag. He zipped it up until the zipper was in her hands.
“When you’re ready, zip it up over your head and we’ll move.”
Mason looked at each of them.
“Are you sure no one will know I’m in here?”
“Not unless you unzip it or start talking.” Nick answered.
She drew a breath and slowly zipped the bag shut over her.
“Don’t leave me,” Mason told him.
“I’m with you all the way out there.”
“It’s a little bumpy while I get the gurney up,” David told her. “I don’t usually carry live people on this so I apologize.”
“Okay,” she answered.
David lifted up the gurney and started for the door.
“I’m right beside you, Mason. That’s my hand on your arm,” Nick told her.
Grissom opened the door and everyone in the hall turned to look at them. Talking died off suddenly, people on cell phones hung up. They went through the house and into the crowd outside. The press quickly surged toward them, snapping off photos, asking who was in the body bag, but they quickly made way – most reporters didn’t like being near bodies. Grissom went ahead to tell the paramedics what was happening and then climbed into the back with one of them.
David wheeled the gurney to the ambulance and got it into the vehicle with the paramedics help. Nick shut the door and patted it to signal ‘go.’ A paramedic climbed into the driver’s seat and drove away. Grissom watched Nick get swallowed by the crowd as they pulled away. He turned to Mason.
“We’ve left, Mason. You can open the bag now,” Grissom told her.
She unzipped it, looking around her. For a few minutes, she was oblivious to the paramedic preparing her arm for an I.V. needle
“Where’s Nick?” Mason asked.
“He’s back at the house. I’ll—”
“I want Nick,” she said, starting to panic.
“Mason, he has to—”
“I want Nick! I WANT NICK!”
He reached out to lay his hand on her arm.
“DON’T TOUCH ME!” Mason screamed, clawing at him. “I WANT NICK! WHERE’S NICK? NICK! NICK!
Grissom and the paramedic had to fight back to restrain Mason, and even that didn’t stop her fighting.
Grissom pulled his phone out of his belt and dialed.
“Stokes,” Nick said.
“Meet us at the hospital. She’s out of control.”
“On my way,” Nick answered and hung up.
The next call did nothing to improve Greg’s mood. It brought them to large house on the wealthy side of Las Vegas. Outside the house was immaculate and perfect, inside the house resembled a mad house. The woman of the house must have missed sex education. She had twelve kids, each a year or two older than their sibling did, and they were all penned in the parlor off the great hall of the mansion and talking or crying at the top of their lungs. A dead stranger lay at the bottom of the wide, sweeping granite stairs leading from the hall up to the second floor. The husband was away on business, the nanny was in tears, the mother was screaming at the nanny and the children. Luckily, Warrick had offered to deal with the insanity, leaving Greg to deal with the silent dead man and David. Greg walked up to them, staring down at the man. His neck was twisted a very unnatural angle, suggesting he had a broken neck. Greg wondered if it had been broken before or after the intruder reached the bottom of the steps?
“So I heard someone got shot in the butt tonight,” David softly said.
“Stow it!” Greg softly snapped back.
David chuckled; unaware he wasn’t helping Greg’s temper.
“The way his head is angled, I’d venture to guess C.O.D. might be a broken neck.”
“There’s no ligature marks or any other marks on his neck?”
Greg noticed a bulge in the man’s hip pocket. “What’s in his pocket?”
David patted his pockets and then pulled out a wad of expensive jewelry. Greg sat his kit down and took out an evidence bag.
“THAT’S MINE!” the wife screamed at them.
The two looked up. She was standing in the hall, wagging her finger at the jewelry.
“It’s evidence,” Greg told her.
“He stole it from me! That’s not evidence!”
“Ma’am, come back in the living room, okay?” Warrick said, guiding her back in.
“But it’s my jewelry! I want it back!”
“You’ll get it back when we’re done.”
“How do I know that?”
Warrick’s answer was lost in the myriad of noise in the parlor. Heaving a tired sigh, Greg took the jewelry from David, bagged it, wrote on the label, and dropped it in his kit. He stood, pulling his camera out of his vest pocket.
“Why are you using that camera?” David asked.
“I’m surprised you haven’t heard about that too,” Greg growled at him.
“Sorry I asked.”
Greg didn’t apologize. He walked away and started photographing the hall. He stopped to stare up the stairs. They had toys all over them, hazards for anyone coming or going on them. Greg’s guess was that the thief was here in the dark and one of the innocent objects on the stairs sent him flying down the stairs to his demise. Case closed.
Something happened in the living room that set one child off into a screaming cry, and then four more joined the first. Greg closed his eyes against the headache starting to build at the back of his neck. Children he liked at a distance, looking cute on TV, and definitely not crying and screaming.
“That camera sucks,” someone said.
Greg opened his eyes, looking down. A seven-year-old boy wearing a karate uniform stood next to him. It would be only later that Greg would notice that the child wore a black belt with two white stripes on it.
“You’re not supposed to be in here. Go back with the other kids,” Greg ordered.
“WARRICK!” Greg called. “One escaped!”
“You’re short. Now get.”
“Greg, found a watch on him,” David said.
“That’s my dad’s! Give it to me!” the kid said, running toward David.
Greg grabbed the kid. Then everything happened so fast that Greg would never remember exactly how he ended up back in the hospital for the third time that night.
But Warrick would.
He came around the corner just as Greg grabbed the kid’s arm. With a ‘hi-ya,’ fast punch, and roundhouse kick, the boy landed a solid connection with his foot to Greg’s groin and fist to the C.S.I.’s face. He grabbed Greg’s arm and flipped him, followed by landing a hand right between Greg’s shoulder blades. The boy grabbed a large vase from a nearby table and lifted it up to bring it crashing down on Greg’s head.
“NO!” the kid’s mother screamed as she raced past Warrick.
Warrick knew she wasn’t going to reach him in time, so he pulled his gun and aimed at the vase, shooting as the kid began swinging it down. The bullet shattered most of the vase. However, the bottom and heaviest part, smashed down on Greg’s head, knocking him unconscious.
“You shot at my kid!” the woman screamed.
“Yeah! And now I’m going to arrest him for assaulting a police officer and tampering with a crime scene and you too lady. Both of you, up against the wall NOW!”
The two didn’t even try to argue with Warrick. He looked at David and found him covering his mouth with both hands to silence his laughter. Tears were streaming down his face. He knew Warrick didn’t have the authority to arrest anyone, which made the string of events even funnier.
Warrick turned away, facing a direction away from anyone and took a few minutes to collect himself enough to call for backup and an ambulance.
Mason screamed and struggled against the bed restraints. Doctor Baker was standing next to the bed, trying to talk to her. A nurse nearby was preparing a syringe of sedative. Grissom stood back watching.
Nick pushed past him.
“Nick,” Grissom called.
Nick didn’t stop. He shoved past Doctor Baker. The nurse began preparing Mason’s arm to give her the shot.
“NO!” Nick yelled, scaring the woman. “Do not give that to her yet. Give me two minutes. Just two minutes.”
Doctor Baker nodded and the nurse waited.
Nick leaned over the railing, laying his hands on either side of Mason’s face.
“Mason,” he quietly said. “Mason, look at me. Look in my eyes, Mason.”
Mason stopped screaming, staring at him.
“Nick?” she gasped.
“Think I messed up again, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you jerk!” she told him, her crying renewed.
Nick smiled, laughing a little. “I deserved that.” Nick reached down, unfastening the restraints on her wrists. “I’m sorry, Mason.”
As soon as her arms were free, she threw them around his neck. Nick fumbled to put the side rail down. He sat down on the edge of the bed, holding her.
“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, Mason,” Nick told her, stroking her hair.
Doctor Baker walked over to Grissom. “Do we need to collect a sexual assault kit?”
“Yes. Will you tell Nick I’ll call him when I need him?”
Grissom left. He couldn’t take away the woman’s only security, even if there was a lot of evidence to sift through to find her rapist.