Hodges watched Wendy walk up to him with an evidence baggie. “I’m done with this. Your turn.”
“What is it?”
“It was supposed to be a hair, but there was no tags on it. I’m pretty sure it’s not even human.”
Hodges took it, smiling. “Giving up so soon?”
She rolled her eyes, turning to leave. She watched Grissom walk in carrying evidence bags and holding a case file in his mouth. He dropped them on the center counter and sat the file aside. He grabbed a lab coat from the coat stand, pulling it on, and then began sorting through the evidence bags.
“Uhm… Grissom… You know you’re in the trace lab, right?” Hodges asked.
“My lab, so to speak.”
Grissom shot him a look that was as effective as saying, ‘shut up.’ Hodges looked up at Wendy. She walked over to the counter and picked up a bag with hair in it.
“Do you need a DNA test run?”
“I can do it. I understand we’re backlogged. You have other evidence to run.”
“Where’s Nick? Wasn’t he working a case with you?” Hodges asked.
“He’s still with the victim.” Grissom sat down on a stool and began preparing a slide with a dirt sample.
“Grissom, is there something going on? I don’t know when I last saw you working in any lab,” Wendy commented.
“I just have a lot of evidence to sort through and quickly.”
“Why quickly?” Hodges asked.
“Because I have a feeling that it’s only a matter of time before the DEA, or FBI, or both, order me to hand over this evidence. And I have a murderer and rapist to find.”
Wendy looked at the hair, then up at him. “Give me everything you need run for DNA. It just became priority.”
Grissom looked up at her. “I can’t order that. We have two priorities already.”
“Then Ecklie can fire me. Give me the DNA. The hell if I’m letting the DEA or FBI take one of our cases!”
Grissom smiled, handing over all the bags he need run for DNA.
“I can push back some things too,” Hodges offered. “I’ll tell them the machine broke.”
Grissom nodded. Hodges walked over and took several bags. Grissom slid his slide under the microscope and grabbed his case file.
Nick sat close to Mason’s bed. He rubbed the inside of her left arm, the only place on her that her attacker hadn’t cut or bruised. She watched his hand, as if the motion had her hypnotized, but she wasn’t. Every time he stopped, she’d whisper for him to start again.
Doctor Baker came in. “Nick, can I speak to you for a moment?”
Nick stood, leaning over the railing. “I’ll be just over there, okay, Mason? I’ll be right back.”
Nick walked over to where he’d pointed with Doctor Baker following.
“The situation out in the waiting room is becoming a problem.”
“There’s a DEA supervisor demanding to see Mason. She said that if we don’t let her back here, she‘d get a court order for temporary custody. Can she do that?”
“If she can convince a judge that Mason’s mentally unstable, yeah.”
“It won’t matter for a while. Mason’s X-rays came back and she has internal bleeding. We need to get her into the O.R. immediately. If you want an assault kit, Nick, you need to convince her right now.” Baker held out forms to Nick.
Nick took them, looking at Mason. “I’ll talk to her.”
“I’ll go get the kit. You have until I get back or not at all.”
He nodded. “Could you put her under anesthesia down here? So I can stay with her until she’s out?”
“Normally, I’d say no, but since you seem to keep her calm I’ll make an exception. But you can’t be with her in surgery.”
“How long will it take?”
Nick quickly fished a business card from a pocket. “Call me when she’s out. I want to be here when she wakes up.”
Baker took it. “I will do that.”
Nick walked back to Mason, leaning on the bedrail.
“What are those?” she asked, motioning at the papers.
“I need your permission to collect a sexual assault kit.”
“I don’t want to.”
Nick sat down, leaning close to the bed. “Do you want me to catch the guy?”
“Then do this, Mason, so I can catch him and put him jail for you.”
She stared at the papers.
“And there’s something else. Doctor Baker got the X-rays back and you have internal bleeding. They have to operate. She’s going to put you under anesthesia here in the ER so I can stay with you.”
She smiled a little. “I need a pen for the papers.”
Nick retrieved one from his pocket and picked up a magazine off a nearby chair. He held them so she could sign the papers. He sat the signed papers aside and sat down on the edge of her bed.
“You sure are brave,” Nick told her.
She closed her eyes. “Is it Nick or Nicholas?”
She smiled, holding out her hand. “Where are you from?”
“Is there any other?” he joked.
She chuckled a little. “Yes, actually, there are several. Lots of cities named Paris, too.”
She nodded slowly. “What are your parent’s names?”
“Why all these questions all of a sudden?”
“I’m trying to relax.”
Nick smiled. “My parents are Rodger and Jillian Stokes.”
Nick hesitated again. She opened her eyes, looking into his eyes.
“Someday I want to be able to find you again,” she told him.
“Mason, I’ll be here when you come out of surgery.”
She started crying, squeezing his hand. “You really are sweet, know that?”
“Do you think that guy will come after you? I can ask for a police presence.”
She slowly shook her head. “I may never see you after tonight.”
Doctor Baker came in, picking up the forms. “Okay, Mason, I’m going to have a nurse collect the assault kit. Nick, you need to step outside for a moment.”
“Just a minute,” he told her.
“Nick, I told you, we don’t have minutes. Please.”
Mason gave his hand a squeeze, drawing his attention back to her.
“Go, Nicholas,” Mason told him. “Then you can sit with me until I’m asleep. I want your face to be the last thing I see.”
“You’re not going to die.”
She smiled sadly. “I know.”
Nick didn’t move.
“Nick, please,” Doctor Baker said.
Nick got up and stepped out of the room. He turned, watching Baker close the curtain. Mason held his gaze until the curtain hid her from sight. Nick was worried. He knew she was trying to tell him something, but he couldn’t figure out what.
The curtain rattled when Catherine yanked it back. Greg sat in a chair while Doctor Baker stitched the gash across his temple.
“You were attacked by a seven-year-old black belt?” she asked.
“Did Warrick mention he shot the vase? He claims it was to keep the kid from busting open my head, but I think it was vengeance for something I don’t remember doing.”
Catherine walked up, placing a hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her.
“Please, Greg, go home,” she quietly urged. “I’m telling you, the universe does not want you in the field tonight. Go. Home.”
Greg didn’t answer.
“I like her idea,” the Doctor Baker told him, “because I’m getting tired of patching you up tonight.”
Greg glared at the floor
Doctor Baker smiled as she stood up. She picked up a bandage and taped it over the wound, giving one end a little too hard of a push.
“OW!” Greg cried, pulling back.
“Do what your boss says, go home,” she told him.
Greg looked at Doctor Baker. “Just give me the release papers.”
She shook her head as she walked away. “Crazy cops!”
Catherine crouched in front of him. “Greg, you have been drug by a vehicle and almost hit by another, your throat’s bruised from the camera strap that nearly hung you, you’ve been shot, beat up, and now you have stitches in your head. Just give up on tonight and go home.”
“And you and Warrick are going to handle the other dozen calls we have?”
“Warrick and I have been running you to the hospital all night. We haven’t handled anything.”
“Fine! Then give me a call and I’ll handle it alone. Maybe you two are causing my bad luck.”
“Well! What do you want me to say, Catherine!? I have—”
Doctor Baker returned with the release papers. “I’m going to ask you again to go home, Mister Sanders. Being bullheaded isn’t going to make these injuries get any better.”
Catherine stood, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Papers,” Greg held out his hand.
She handed them over and he scrawled his name across the bottom of them. She tore them apart, handing him his copies and a prescription.
“If you’re going to work still, don’t take the Percocet until you get home.”
“I don’t need something that’ll knock me out. I’m fine.”
“What was it your boss just said? Oh yeah. You have been drug by a vehicle and almost hit by another, your throat’s bruised from the camera strap that nearly hung you, you’ve been shot, beat up, and now you have stitches in your head. Apparently, none of this has knocked any sense into you. Take it. You’ll thank me tomorrow.”
“Can I go now?”
She stepped back, motioning towards the door. He got up, grabbed his jacket, and headed for it. Catherine shrugged to Baker before following him.
“So, what, we’ll see you in an hour or so, Mister Sanders?” Baker called out to him.
Greg stopped when several nurses
and doctors laughed. Others were trying not to. He turned to her. “No, you won't,
Doctor Baker. Good night."
“Mm-hm,” she answered with a knowing smile.
Greg left. Catherine followed, laughing with the nurses and doctors.
Grissom looked up when Nick moved in next to him. He watched him reading the printouts he’d sat down.
“Why are you here?” Grissom asked.
“Mason’s in surgery.” Nick held up a box. “I’m going to go run the rape kit, see if anyone pops up in CODIS.” Nick looked up at him, staring back at him. “What?”
“I don’t think you should be working this case, Nick.”
“I can remain objective, Grissom. I have to.”
“The FBI and DEA don’t show up to just any informant’s house. This woman means something, and my gut tells me that we’re going to have dig deep to find whoever did this to her and her boyfriend.”
“What if it leads to a reason?”
“You mean what if it says she deserved to be raped and stabbed?”
“What if it means she’s not as innocent as you believe?”
“Mason’s not innocent. I could see that in her face. But no matter what’s really going on, she didn’t deserve this. No one does.”
Grissom looked at the microscope in front of him. “I won’t let you conduct any interviews. I don’t need this blowing apart because you like the woman.”
“I never said I liked her.”
Grissom looked up at him. “My gut tells me you do.”
Nick didn’t argue.
“Go run the kit.”
Nick nodded, leaving the lab. Grissom turned back to his work. At the end of the counter, Hodges was working on some evidence.
“Ah sweet infatuation,” Hodges said.
Grissom stopped working for a minute and then looked back at Hodges. “Do you listen to all my conversations?”
“Only the interesting ones,” Hodges told him as he walked past.
Grissom frowned, and then went back to work.
Nick processed the evidence from the rape kit, but while he was careful with the evidence, his thoughts were at the hospital with Mason. He was still going over their last conversation. In hindsight, he realized that maybe she wasn’t worried about the men. Maybe the annoying DEA agent had her worried. He wasn’t prone to wanting to punch women but that woman needed someone to explain things with a little force.
He was lost in thought when Wendy leaned over his shoulder, whispering, “Can I use the FTIR now?”
He smiled back at her. “Is it done?” He stood, checking the machine, and realized it had finished a while ago. He walked to the printer, pulling the results off. He leaned back against the counter, reading the results.
“Are you okay? I’ve been here talking to you for ten minutes.”
“Yeah. Just thinking about my case.”
Wendy joined him. “Active woman.”
“Only two male donors. One’s the boyfriend.”
Wendy looked up at him. “More active than most women.”
Nick looked at her. He wasn’t aware it was the darkest look he’d ever given her, but he did see her smile fade.
“She was violently raped, Wendy.”
Nick walked over to a computer and put the DNA for the unknown donor into CODIS.
“Sorry, Nick. I didn’t know.”
Nick didn’t answer. His thoughts shifted when the computer found a match. He printed out the results and left to find Grissom.