Prologue: Girls' Night
"Yoink," Annie giggled, reaching over and taking her car keys from the basket in the middle of the table.
"What, leaving already, Annie?" Molly smirked. "Party's just getting started."
"That may be, but I've got work," Annie laughed, slurping the last of her Sprite through her straw. "So party on, girls – I'll see you ladies at practice on Tuesday." Picking up her backpack from under the table, she got to her feet, a little wobbly.
"You all right there, Annie?" Ruth asked.
"Yeah – I probably just stood up too fast. Low blood pressure," she nodded. "Happy birthday again, Becca," she laughed. Waving, she headed out of the restaurant.
"Hey, Annie," Greg grinned, waving, as the toxicologist stepped into the locker room. He paused. Annie seemed to be having trouble walking in a straight line. "You all right, there?"
Annie collapsed onto a bench with visible relief. "No... I've been insanely dizzy since I got out of the car, and I have no idea why."
"Low blood pressure, maybe?" Greg suggested.
"I'm usually at the very low end of normal," Annie nodded, taking off her embroidered denim jacket and draping it over her backpack on the floor. "But that shouldn't make me this bad. I'm gonna go see if Doc Robbins has any ideas – maybe I've got an inner ear infection or something."
"I'll walk with you," Greg nodded. He rather suspected that she would fall flat on her face before she got there if she tried to go by herself.
Greg's suspicion had been correct – by the time the two lab techs got down to the morgue, he was half-carrying Annie. "Doc, you got a minute?" he asked.
"Of course," the coroner replied making his way over from his desk. "What's the trouble?"
"I've been so dizzy the room's spinning for the last... ten or fifteen minutes or so, maybe?" Annie replied. "It's getting worse, I can't stand up on my own at this point."
Al Robbins nodded to a nearby chair. "Have a seat, and let's have a look," he said, stepping away and retrieving an opthalmascope, a stethoscope, and a blood pressure cuff. "Are you prone to low blood pressure at all, Annie?"
"I usually sit at about 90/60, occasionally as low as 85/55. I get dizzy if I stand up quickly, but the only time I've ever been this bad was a bad reaction to an antibiotic. And before you ask, all I've taken today were my usual Zyrtec and Prozac, and two Advil for a headache. No way that could cause this."
"Well, let's take a look," the doctor nodded, stepping over and applying the blood pressure cuff.
Greg, meanwhile, stepped aside and pulled out his cell phone, quickly sending off two messages.
"Well, that explains the dizzyness," the doctor said. "You're at 75/50. I've had patients with lower blood pressure, I'll grant, but..."
"They don't have a pulse," Annie finished wryly.
"Exactly," Robbins nodded. "Hold still, and let's have a look at your ears."
"Can do," Annie nodded. She did her best to comply, but her head was feeling unbearably heavy.
"Wellllll... I'm not seeing any signs of an ear problem, Annie," Robbins said, his expression growing more perplexed by the second.
Annie nodded, clearly fighting to keep her head upright and her eyes open. "Justwanttosleep," she said, her speech beginning to slur a bit.
"None of that – stay with me, Annie,"
At that moment, Grissom and Annie's fiance, Scott, stepped into the morgue.
"Thanks for paging us, Greg," Scott nodded. The LVPD officer hurried over to his fiancee's side. "Annie, hon – what's up?"
"I... Idon'tknow... Did... didyoufeedthecat? And...andthe... thewhatdoyoucallit... the dog?"
"Yes, I fed Mozart, and McCartney too," Scott nodded. "Greg... how long has she been like this?"
"She was really dizzy when she got up to the locker room, but she was totally coherent until like two minutes ago, I swear."
Scott frowned. "Doc, you equipped to pull blood from a patient who's still breathing?"
"Of course," Robbins nodded.
"Good. Get a sample. Now."
"What's wrong, Scott?" Grissom asked.
"Annie was out at a birthday party with the girls from the fencing club before she came here," Scott replied, his normally friendly face etched into a scowl. "Alcohol gives her migraines, so she doesn't drink, at all, ever. I think someone may have slipped something in her soda."
"Mmm... Soda... Plopplopfizzfizz... ohwhatareliefitis..." Annie jumped as Robbins inserted a needle into her vein. "Ow, Doc!"
"One blood sample," Robbins nodded, disconnecting the vacuum tube.
"Greg, get that to the lab. Now," Grissom ordered.
Not needing to be told twice, Greg sprinted out of the morgue.
"Scott, do you know where the party was?" Grissom asked.
"The Rite Place, that new steakhouse out by the strip," Scott nodded, immediately seeing where Grissom's mind had gone. "Better get a squad car and a CSI or two out there. The BroadSwords are a group of about fifteen 20-something year old ladies – they'll be the ones giggling and cracking phallic jokes involving sabers and epees; you can't miss 'em."
"Oh, shit – David, I need a dose of epinephrine over here, STAT," Robbins shouted. "Whatever she was given, she's massively allergic to it – she's going into anaphylactic shock."
Pulling up outside the Rite Place, Warrick parked the Tahoe, and he and Catherine headed inside, a couple of uniformed LVPD officers close behind. As Scott had promised, the BroadSwords were not difficult to find – they were giggling in a back room. Notably there was one empty seat at the table set for sixteen, at which there was a glass full of ice and the remains of a clear beverage. "Ladies," Warrick nodded.
One of the women nearest him stood. "Is there a problem, Officers?" she asked.
"There is," Catherine nodded. "Was Anne Rose here with you tonight?"
Another woman nodded. "Yeah, Annie's a night shift lab tech at the crime lab – she left for work about half an hour or so ago." The woman frowned. "Is she in trouble?"
"Only the medical kind," Warrick replied. "Was she acting strangely at all before she left?"
"No, she seemed totally normal," the first woman said, shaking her head. "She was a little dizzy when she stood up, but she's pretty tall with low blood pressure – that's common for her. What happened, is she okay?"
"Was she drinking tonight?" Catherine asked.
"Only if you count Sprite," a third woman replied. "Annie never drinks when we go out – she says it gives her migraines, so she's always happy to be designated driver. Anyways, if she'd been drinking, we wouldn't have let her leave." The blonde pointed her thumb at a basket full of key rings in the middle of the table. "The BroadSwords party hard, and party crazy, but we also party safe – when you arrive, your car keys go in the basket. If when you're ready to leave, you're still sober, you can have 'em back. If you aren't, either someone who hasn't been drinking will give you a ride home, or we'll call you a cab. Now, for the love of God, what happened to Annie?"
"She collapsed when she arrived at work. We believe her drink may have been tampered with," Warrick said grimly.
The table fell silent as fifteen jaws dropped in near unison. At last, one woman managed to find her tongue. "Does Scott know?"
Catherine nodded. "He's with her."
"We're going to need everyone's glasses," Warrick told the group. "And we're going to need everyone to stay with us for a couple hours' observation – if one drink was tampered with, there could be more, and if so, we want to make sure there's prompt medical attention."