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Would You Like Fries With That?
Disclaimer: CSI isn’t mine (oh the things I’d do if it was).
Author’s Note: Thanks to my best friend for setting me this challenge, my mother and sister for putting up with my endless requests for help with phrasing, and Roget’s Thesaurus (which I finally learned how to use while writing this fic…) Also to several websites, which taught me more than I’d ever wanted to know about investigating a homicide…
I managed to meet all of the conditions except the word limit, which I overshot just a little bit.
“He was blood type O, she was AB negative.”
“And the mother?”
“Damn! I would have sworn he was her real father. She looked so much like him.”
“Not according to the blood work.” Nick held out a hand. “Pay up.”
Warrick reluctantly pulled out a ten dollar bill and handed it over.
“That’s it, man. I am never betting on paternity testing with you again!”
Gil Grissom chose that precise moment to walk into the break room, catching the tail end of the conversation. He quirked an eyebrow at the younger CSIs as he poured himself a mug of the tar that was masquerading as today’s break room coffee.
“Do I even want to ask?”
Nick and Warrick stared at the table, and Warrick mumbled, “Probably not.” Grissom continued to look right at them, evidently curious nonetheless. Nick shifted uncomfortably before speaking up.
“Well, um… Warrick and I were sorta watching Jerry last night, after we finished up on the Milanti case. Warrick got called out in the middle, and, umm… he bet me on the outcome of…”
Grissom interrupted. “I get the picture Nick.” He didn’t look overly impressed, although a slight smirk quivered at the edge of his mouth.
Nick and Warrick were still slumped, silently sheepish, when Sara breezed in a few moments later. She looked at her subdued colleagues.
“What’s wrong with you two?” she asked chirpily. “Shift’s only just started.” Nick looked up at her incredulously.
“I think the real question is – what’s so right with you today?” Sara smirked and grabbed a mug.
“Sara just happy I guess.” Taking a sip of lukewarm coffee, she hazarded a glance at Grissom. Telling Nick the real reason for her good mood wasn’t an option. While she had a hunch that he suspected something, they simply weren’t ready to deal with the consequences of divulging the truth of their relationship to the world. Earlier that evening, they had celebrated six months together with an intimate dinner at Grissom’s townhouse. Eventually the need for secrecy might grow too tiresome, but for now she was just enjoying the glow that being with Grissom, and sharing the hidden sides of his personality, gave her.
Just then, Marilla, the new admin assistant, stepped in, handing Grissom a slip of paper. Grissom’s relaxed expression slid from his face as he read it.
“Double homicide. This looks nasty. As soon as Catherine and Greg get here, we all need to head out.”
Grissom, Sara, Catherine, Warrick, Nick and Greg stood outside the substantial two-storey house as blue lights flashed around them in the dark night.
Detective Jim Brass walked over slowly, a grim look on his face.
“Jason Newcomb, 33, and wife Amelia, 29. Called in by a neighbour. Didn’t turn up for a gathering and she got curious. Da…”
“Jim,” Catherine interrupted. “Not that it isn’t great to see you, but you’re supposed to be taking it easy. You had major surgery not three months ago.”
“Yeah,” Greg added, “last I heard you were on desk duty.”
“I was,” Brass grumbled, “but I cut a deal. I got to come out here and work a case, but I had to bring my babysitter along with me.” He motioned behind him, where Sophia was talking to a distraught-looking woman. “As I was saying, David is already in there with the vics.”
Grissom turned to his team. “Nick, Warrick, take the outside. We’ll take the inside.”
Grissom, Sara, Catherine and Greg walked up the front path and entered the house. The front room was covered in blood spatter, and they found David standing next to the couch, where two rather battered bodies sat.
“Rigor hasn’t set. Liver temp’s 86. I’d say time of death was about four hours ago,” he told them. “Lividity is consistent with body position.”
“Thanks, David,” Catherine said, as she looked around, acclimatising herself with the scene.
Nick and Warrick stepped carefully around the side of the house, their flashlights illuminating the ground in front of them. As the rounded the house and entered the back garden, Warrick spotted a broken window.
“Looks like point of entry to me,” he stated.
“Nothing screams ‘break in’ quite like a broken window,” Nick agreed. They took a few steps closer and noticed a set of footprints in the grass below the window. While Warrick went to get a casting kit from the Denali, Nick followed the faint track of indentations in the grass, leading away from the window. As the trail reached a path at the back edge of the garden, Nick’s flashlight picked out a small drop of blood…
Meanwhile, Grissom, Sara, Catherine and Greg were making a start with the bodies, which had, for the time being, been left in place so as not to disturb any surrounding evidence. It didn’t take long to notice the trail of muddy footprints leading out of the room, towards the back of the house, and Greg was set to analyse and document them – a task he did not seem too thrilled with.
“They’ve definitely been beaten with something,” Grissom noted. “But with what? Did our killer bring it with him, or was it something already here? I don’t see anything obviously missing in here.”
“I’ll check the rest of the house,” Catherine volunteered. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and he left it behind.”
Catherine bypassed, for now, the dining room, where Greg was painstakingly marking and measuring muddy marks. She went instead into the kitchen, where she found the remains of a large takeaway pizza on the counter, but no murder weapon.
Crouched down against the back wall of the house, Warrick meticulously poured the casting plaster into the print. Setting aside the container, he caught a slight motion from the corner of his eye. Before he could turn to investigate, he felt something slimy land on his head. Standing up, he cried out involuntarily. Pointing his flashlight at the ground, he found himself face-to-face (ish) with a rather disgruntled frog, which had fallen from his head as he stood.
From his station in the dining room, Greg heard Warrick’s exclamation and, as CSIs were wont to do, were to investigate.
“Hey Warrick!” he called through the broken window. Warrick jumped.
“Just give me a heart attack why don’t you, Greg!” he complained.
“What’s got you so jumpy?” Greg asked. Warrick sighed.
“Jumpy. That’s a good one.” Greg was confused until Warrick elucidated. “A damn frog jumped on my head just as I was finishing this footprint cast.” Greg laughed.
“Thanks Warrick. You just made my night. I needed a good mental break from all these muddy prints…
“You know Griss, it doesn’t look like they really put up much of a fight.” Grissom looked up from his camera to where Sara was standing next to the couch. “If there was a struggle, I don’t think we’d be finding them sitting here like this. Plus I’m not seeing any sign of defensive wounds.” Sara was clearly perplexed. Grissom thought for a moment before hypothesizing.
“Perhaps he had a gun and was threatening them with it. Or he subdued them first somehow.”
“If he had a gun, why not use it?” Sara pointed out. Grissom tilted his head slightly, conceding her point.
“We’ll know more after autopsy.”
Nick pointed his flashlight slightly further down the path. Another drop of blood. And another. Another. He slowly walked down the shadowy path, searching out blood drops. It was a slow process in the dark, but he persevered. As he highlighted yet another drop, he suddenly felt one of his feet go from underneath him. Barely staying upright, he shone his flashlight behind him to see what had caused his near fall. A skateboard had been carelessly abandoned. Nick frowned. An unlit path was not the best place to leave such a thing. A few drops further on, Nick spotted something interesting. A crowbar. That certainly didn’t belong here. Crouching down and reaching out, he carefully picked it up with gloved fingers. He stood and illuminated the ends of the bar. A brief smile graced his lips, because that reddish tint surely did look awfully like blood…
Grissom walked into the morgue, where Dr Al Robbins was waiting for him.
“Gil,” Robbins greeted as Grissom approached the pair of bodies on the morgue slabs. “Both vics lost a lot of blood, so exsanguination was a possibility, but COD is definitely blunt force trauma. Several blows to the head in each case. Extensive cutting and bruising on both bodies, but no defensive wounds. Nothing under the fingernails either.” Grissom nodded.
“We noticed at the scene that there weren’t any signs of a struggle.”
“Well there may be good reason for that,” Robbins responded. “Tox screen shows elevated levels of melatonin in both vics.”
“Sleeping aid?” Grissom questioned.
“Possible, but unlikely. The levels were much higher than a standard dosage.” Robbins handed over two manila files. “It’s all in the reports.”
“Thanks Al.” Grissom turned to leave.
“Oh, and Gil? Your female vic?” Grissom paused and turned back to face the coroner. “She was three months pregnant.”
The other CSIs were already seated around the break room table when Grissom entered with the autopsy reports in hand. He sat down, nodding towards Sara.
“You were right. They were subdued before they were attacked. Tox showed melatonin in their bloodstreams.”
“Think they took it deliberately?” Grissom shook his head.
“Not this much. It would have more or less knocked them out.”
“Neighbour was expecting them, so I doubt they’d have aimed for that,” Catherine added. “Said they met every two weeks, ostensibly for a Neighbourhood watch meeting, but usually it was just an excuse to get together and eat cake. When they hadn’t appeared by the end of the evening, she called to check up on them. When she didn’t get an answer, she went round.”
“And found more than she was bargaining for,” Warrick sighed.
“I think it’s fair to say that they didn’t take it themselves,” Grissom commented. “Especially since Amelia was three months pregnant.” The CSIs took a moment to consider this.
“How did the killer get it to them then? Something they ate?” Greg inquired.
“There was a pizza delivery box in the kitchen,” Catherine observed. “Probably wouldn’t be too difficult to tamper with it during transit. Or even before.”
“We’ll need to go back to the scene and pick up that box then,” Grissom told them. “If it was in the pizza, there may still be a trace in the box.”
“We got the DNA results back on the crowbar I found in the path behind the house,” Nick began. “Got a positive match on the blood to both vics. It’s definitely our murder weapon. I got some pretty clear prints from the other end that match the ones Warrick lifted from the windowsill. They’re running through AFIS now.” Warrick nodded.
“We didn’t get a whole lot from the footprints Greg and I lifted though. Size tens. Probably runners, but the treads were too worn to narrow it down any further than that.”
“You know,” Catherine mused, “those footprints came in the window, straight to the scene and back out again. Nothing in the rest of the house was even disturbed. Whatever the motive was, it wasn’t robbery. This wasn’t a random act of violence.”
“Hey Grissom!” Greg called as he caught up with him in the corridor. Falling into step beside him, he relayed his latest findings. “As you know, we’ve been testing that slice of leftover pizza. The tomato paste? Sky high levels of melatonin. As soon as I heard, I contacted the manager of Pizza Italia and she faxed me over a list of all the employees on duty that night. Take a look, one name just leapt right out at me.” Grissom took the proffered list and skimmed through it, shooting Greg a commendatory glance.
“Andrew Newcomb? Any relation to our vics, by any chance?” Greg shrugged.
“I don’t know. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but I don’t believe in coincidences. Not when it comes to cases.”
“Well, the neighbour did mention a brother…”
Andy Newcomb sat uncomfortably in his interrogation room chair. Brass and Sara watched him from the other side of the table. His twitchy movements, pale skin, and sunken eyes led them both to the conclusion that he was an addict.
“So, Andrew,” Brass began, “when was the last time you saw or spoke to your brother?”
“I dunno,” Andrew replied, shrugging. “Maybe about a two-three weeks ago, I guess.”
“And do you recall what it was you talked about?” Brass continued.
“Nothing much. Just guy stuff, sports you know?”
“So you left on friendly terms then?” Andy nodded.
“Sure, of course.”
“See, we have a witness who claims otherwise. According to her, you and Jason weren’t getting along at all last time you stopped by. Said there was rather a yelling match going on, and then he threw you out.”
“So my brother and I had a fight. So what? That wasn’t against the law last time I checked.” Andy grumbled.
“But murder is. You owed Jason rather a lot of money, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I guess. But we’re family. That’s just what family does isn’t it?”
Brass and Sara exchanged glances.
“Andrew, where were you between six and eight PM night before last?”
“At work. I’m a kitchen assistant over at Pizza Italia. I’m there from four ‘til ten most nights a week.”
“We already talked to your boss, Andrew. Apparently you went for your break around 6.30 and didn’t come back. Wanna explain that?” Andrew remained silent. Here, Sara spoke up.
“Mr Newcomb? I’m going to have to ask you for your fingerprints.”
Brass and Warrick watched as Andrew was led away in handcuffs.
“Guy fessed up,” Brass commented. “Seems his brother wasn’t the only one he owed money too. His dealer was on his back about a payment, and he was flat broke. Jason wouldn’t bail him out any more, cos Mia had convinced him that he couldn’t keep just solving all of Andy’s problems for him, especially not now that they had a baby on the way.”
“So he figured he’d get rid of them, and inherit the estate?” Warrick surmised. Brass nodded.
“Yeah. But he didn’t figure on getting caught.”
“Well, for all he planned it out, he didn’t cover it up too well. He didn’t have much choice but to confess once we confronted him with the evidence. His prints were on the murder weapon, and when we searched his apartment we found not only the bottles of pills, but the blood-stained clothes and muddy shoes he was wearing when he did it. Sometimes they just make it too easy.” Brass concurred.
“I believe this is what they call a ‘slam dunk’.”
Sara rooted around in the back of the break room fridge. There was surely something edible in there. Her hand connected with a plastic storage tub, and she pulled it out hopefully. When she saw the contents she wrinkled her nose in disgust. Chilli. And not just any chilli – this chilli had been there for a while, and had mould growing on it.
“Would you like fries with that?” She jumped at the sound of Grissom’s voice behind her. She hadn’t heard him come in. Placing the chilli on a shelf (where someone would surely notice and dispose of it) and closing the fridge door, she stood and turned to face him. A soft smile graced her face as she replied.
“Only if you’re buying.” Grissom nodded, a similar smile lighting up his features.
“So what do you say Sidle?” He grinned and held out his hand. “Would you like to have dinner with me?”
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