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Xenophobia

By Allison Rose Warn

Mystery

Chapter 1

Las Vegas was quiet that night, or so it seemed. There was work to be done, yes, as there always was, but there was also time enough for Grissom to sit for a few minutes, quietly watching his tarantula in her tank as he contemplated his current caseload. The phone on his desk rang, startling both man and spider. "Grissom. Oh, hello, Jim. What have we got?"

"Shooting at the Tangiers. At least one dead body and another on the way to the hospital. Oh, and a kid. Unhurt, but scared out of his wits."

"I don't blame him. How old's the kid?" Grissom sighed. The poor kid was going to have nightmares for months, in all likelihood. He'd certainly seen enough kids left orphaned by murder to know the trauma it caused. This child's life would never be the same again.

"We're not sure, he only speaks Russian. At least, we're pretty sure it's Russian. We've got a social worker down here, but she can't speak to him either."

"Can we get a translator?"

"Not till tomorrow; we'll bring over one of the Russian professors from WLVU."

"I can't wait that long." There was information he needed tonight to help solve this case, and a child who deserved answers as soon as possible, however bad they may be.

"Unless you've got a Russian speaker in the lab, you don't have a whole lot of choice."

"I'll be down there as soon as I can." The phone was returned to the cradle with a clicking noise. Vegas was quiet no more. "Damn it, why don't we put information like that in the personnel files?"

"Information like what?" Warrick asked. It was unusual to hear Grissom swear; clearly, something was eating him.

Grissom looked up from his desk to find the rest of the team standing in his doorway, waiting for him. "All right guys, we've got a shooting at the Tangiers. We're all on this one. Warrick, put out a page. If there's anyone in this lab who speaks even semi-decent Russian, I want them in my office, now."

"You got it."

Across the lab, Greg walked into the locker room. He looked up, startled. "Annie? I thought you worked days?"

"I did. Shift change."

"Ah. Nice to see you around more. How's life over in Tox?"

"Caught up, for once, as soon as I run the next sample through the GCMS. See you around."

"Yeah, I'll catch you later." With that, the two lab technicians headed off to their respective labs. No sooner had Annie grabbed her lab glasses, than her pager went off. She checked the message and headed down the hallway.

"Hey, Grissom. I hear you're looking for Russian speakers?" Annie hovered in Grissom's doorway.

"You speak Russian, Annie? I didn't know that. How well?" It had seemed unlikely that anyone in the lab spoke Russian—Spanish was a far more common second language in the American Southwest—but the attempt appeared to have paid off.

"Well enough to function on the streets of Moscow most of the time, or at least it was five years ago. I haven't had much chance to keep in practice since I graduated, so my vocabulary is a bit limited, and I can't promise perfect grammar, but I can probably manage to get my point across. Why do you ask?"

"I need a translator. We can't get a professor from WLVU until tomorrow, and I can't wait that long."

"How desperate are you?"

"Desperate."

"Well, it'll be very makeshift; speaking and translating are completely different skills, and I haven't done a lot of translation work. But I'd be willing to try it. Just let me run back to the lab and grab my dictionary and ditch the lab coat. Oh, and could you make sure we have a tape recorder available?"

"A tape recorder? Will do. "

"Awesome. Make sure the expert listens to the tape and double-checks it."

"No problem. Don't forget to transfer your ID off your lab coat, ok?" Grissom sighed. This was one obstacle out of the way, but there'd probably be more.

"Right, thanks. I'm infamous for that."

"I know." Smart, earnest, and usually wholly absorbed in her work, the young lab tech tended to be something of a scatterbrain about things not involving chemicals or instrumentation.

"Oh, and Annie? Try to look a little less like a lab rat, ok? Lab glasses are geeky enough in the lab," came a voice from the door. Greg was standing there with a grin, holding a file full of DNA results for Grissom. As usual, his loud shirt, visible above the collar of his lab coat, rebelled against the very notion of geekyness, while Annie reveled in it.

"I'll see what I can do," Annie replied, raising her eyebrow. With that she jogged back to the Tox lab. Ten minutes later, she returned, dictionary tucked under one arm, buttoning a flowered oxford over her lab t-shirt. She took her ID off her belt loop and clipped it to the shirt pocket. "Let's rock and roll."

Grissom, Warrick, Catherine and Annie were piled into a Tahoe on the way to the crime scene, where they would be met by Nick and Sara. 'Rock and roll' had turned out to be a surprisingly accurate term, as Warrick currently had control over the car radio, driver's privilege. "So, Grissom, what am I getting myself into here?" Annie asked.

"We're not sure exactly. We need you to help us find out. We've got two adults, one dead, one in surgery, and a very scared kid who's our only witness."

"And he speaks Russian?"

"Da."

"Otlichna. Ili nyet."

Grissom parked the Tahoe in the Tangiers lot. "Oh, good," he commented, "there's Nick and Sara."

"Hey guys," Sara called as they got out of the car. "How do you want us to play this, Grissom?"

"Sara, Annie; you go with Brass and talk to the kid; here's the tape recorder. Nick, I want you to get me any and all relevant security footage; hallways, stairwells, and elevators. Catherine, you and Vega go talk to the neighbors; see if anybody heard anything. Someone had to have called it in, and it couldn't have been the kid. Warrick; you're with me; we're processing the scene. Let's move."

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