Cock and Bull

Late afternoon, an hour before sunset forty miles north of the main drag. The ranch was quiet, except for the peripheral sounds associated with every crime scene: Policemen on walkie-talkies, muted conversations, the occasional crackle of a radio. Added over this one hung the soft buzz of flies.

Many flies.

“Whoah. This looks—messy,” Catherine Willows observed with a wince. Warrick Brown nodded, but his attention had wandered back, briefly, to the silent observer standing just behind them. He shifted, peeking over his shoulder at her; she looked up at him dispassionately then back to the crime scene.

“Okay, Goldilocks is still with us—“ he sighed, “What have we got?”

The unfamiliar detective who’d met them at the barn door gave a shrug, clearly out of his league on a farm instead of a busy street.

“Got a call when the owner was overdue for a lunch date--Violent domestic dispute, two bodies—“

“—Three if you count HIM,” Warrick pointed with his chin at the enormous mountain of decaying Angus bull that lay in a fly-infested mound in the cattle chute. Wincing, Catherine nodded, but a dry voice piped up from behind them.

“Four—there’s a body UNDER it too—“

Startled, both Warrick and Catherine glanced down to see fingers, slightly grey, mutely reaching out from under the huge animal carcass. They all stared for a long moment.

“Looks like SOME one got Ferdinanded,” Warrick sighed.

***   ***   ***


Gil Grissom looked up from the file before him to the woman, frowning slightly. Out of all the duties of his job as supervisor to the night shift of the Criminology Lab, personnel matters were the ones he like the least, and those dealing with the added burden of disciplinary action annoyed him intensely.

“Ecklie wants you on my shift—why?”

The woman didn’t twitch, but her mouth moved with a faint sense of irritation before she spoke.

“Well sir, it’s supposed to be a reprimand for my unprofessional behavior, but I suspect it’s also a convenient way for Ecklie to antagonize you. It’s pretty evident there’s no love lost between the two of you.”

“So without benefit of ANY sort of consultation, he feels he has the right to dump you onto my shift for the next few months?” Irritated, Gil rubbed his forehead. The woman drew up her shoulders and looked at him steadily.

“I’ll do my share, Doctor Grissom, and you won’t get any trouble from me, but if you don’t accept my temporary transfer, I’ll be farmed out to Boulder City.”

Gil’s mouth twitched as he considered what the woman’s body language was telling him.

Lydia Petrowski was a petite blonde of strong Polish stock, with a lushness of curves not often seen in Las Vegas, where the air tended to favor lean women. Her honey blonde hair hung nearly to her waist in two heavy gleaming braids, making him see her briefly as a Viking maiden, especially when paired with her big blue eyes. The stubborn set of her mouth spoke of a determined nature though, and the file in front of him confirmed that. Conrad Ecklie’s terse documentation cited instance after instance of minor infractions to standard CSI procedures. Most of them were annotated with petty commentary, but Gil noted that both her evaluations were high and solve rate were better than good.

He sighed. Lydia tensed; seeing that sad little gesture of resignation Gil had a sudden insight into the more personal nature of the conflict.

“What seems to be the main issue of contention? Off the record, Ms. Petrowski, but if you’re going to be on our shift I’d like to know.”

Lydia paused a beat before looking down at her hands.

“I wish I could tell you, sir, but it’s not something tangible. Dr. Ecklie and I don’t see eye to eye on a number of issues—“ She paused and rushed on, “--including the definition of personal space.”

Gil kept his expression passive, but inwardly nodded; it fit what he knew of the man. Lydia raised her eyes, but said nothing more and Gil pursed his mouth.

“I appreciate your candor and discretion, Ms. Petrowski. Report in tonight and we’ll put you through your paces then.”

“No Boulder City?” she blurted in relief; Gil looked over the top of his glasses at her.

“Nah, we’ll save you the commute. And besides, we’re a little short-handed at the moment.”

Which was true—Nick was still on medical leave and would be for another six weeks, so the transfer seemed serendipitous at the very least, he mused.

Warrick strode around the corner of the communal locker room, and the tune he was whistling died on his lips as he caught sight of a waterfall of lush blonde hair being slowly brushed in neat methodical strokes. Mesmerized by the sight, he simply stared.

“Twenty-four, twenty-five—“ came the low voice of the woman with her back to him. Two little hands slid over her shoulders, gathering the hair and deftly parting it; Warrick was aware of a hard throbbing against the inside of his fly and damned little else beyond that beautiful cascade of honey gold hair. The woman turned, catching sight of him for the first time; her gaze went up and up, finally reaching his face.

“Ohhhh. You’re Brown.”

At this point Warrick would have cheerfully admitted to being damn near any color of the rainbow, but he blinked instead and nodded.

“Categorically as well as personally, yeah.”

The woman blushed then, a slow rise of pink through her pale complexion, and Warrick smiled seeing it. It was rare enough to actually get the better of anyone on the nightshift, wit-wise, but adding a pretty woman into the exchange made it all the sweeter. He held out a hand and she shook it, her touch cool and strong even though her fingers were small.

“Warrick Brown.”

“Lydia Petrowski, transfer from the dayshift. I’ve seen your reports come through the labs,” she confessed, her hands flying to braid one side of her hair as she spoke. Amused, Warrick watched her deft, graceful movements and nodded.

“Gris said you’d be joining us for a while—how did you piss off Ecklie?”

Lydia winced a little, tying off one braid and working on the other one.

“Some days just by breathing. Look, I’d prefer not to talk about him if we can help it, all right?”

“Fine by me—lots of better topics out there. Gil’s passing out assignments pretty quick, so we need to hustle if we want something decent—“

And so it had begun. Lydia stayed quiet and unassuming through her introductions to Sara and Catherine, making it clear she knew her place in the pecking order. Gil assigned her to Sara the first few nights, tagging along to do the scutwork of evidence collection, at which she quietly excelled.

Most of the cases of the next few weeks were cut and dry: a few hit and runs, a dead wino in a culvert off the strip, two burglaries. Warrick found himself watching Lydia, finding her concentration both amusing and slightly erotic; her habit of sticking the tip of her tongue out when she was intensely focused never failed to stir him slightly.

“Is something wrong?”

“What? No, I don’t think so—“ he countered, dropping to a squat and resting his forearms on his thighs, watching her pour a plaster mold of a tire track. Lydia shot him a slightly annoyed look.

“You’re staring. I’m starting to feel like you’re going to grade everything I do, Warrick.”

“Sorry—didn’t mean to cramp your style,” he offered lightly, embarrassed to be caught. Lydia shot him a shy smile as she scraped the last of the plaster out.

“And I didn’t mean to put you on the spot—“ Lydia sighed, “It’s been a little hard for me to adjust to the circadian shift.”

“I can dig it.”

At that Lydia smiled again, reaching for the bucket just as Warrick did too. His fingers touched hers and the soft tingle of contact made both of them pause for a second.

***   ***   ***

Dignity, Gil Grissom told himself grimly, it was all a matter of perspective and the will to stay focused on the evidence. Despite the trappings of the shop and the overwhelming potential for embarrassment he would NOT lose either of them. He would keep his focus—

“Oh. My. God,” Sara Sidle breathed, her voice a low squeak of astonished awe. Gil drew in a breath and risked a glance at her, hoping the flush he felt didn’t actually show on his skin.

“I can’t believe this! I see . . . a wall of dicks. Please tell me this is for real, Gris—a robbery homicide at Tickled Pink! Nick is going to be eating his heart out for the next CENTURY over missing this.”

“It’s a crime scene and we’ll treat it like any other crime scene,” came his soft chide; Sara arched an eyebrow at Gil, a little smirk on her lips.

“Riiiiight. We’re standing in a doorway shaped like a huge pair of red vinyl lips, looking at about a quarter million dollars worth of erotic paraphernalia displayed in front of us and YOU want to consider it JUST another crime scene?”

“Yes,” Gil managed evenly. Sara blinked at him, the smirk twitching a little, her dark brown eyes twinkling.

“Fine. Suck all the pleasure right out of the moment.”

“Sara—“ he winced, looking away, wishing she hadn’t used that particular verb, not HERE anyway. She laughed, charmed by his embarrassment and warmed by his attempts at dignity. With a quick pat to his broad shoulder, she picked up her evidence box and sauntered off, muttering,

“No, no you’re right. It’s fine. Speaking of sucking, I’ll start over by the wall of—latex re-creations there.”

Gil sighed, willing himself to look back over the showroom floor, wishing for the millionth time that the stomach flutters Sara’s presence invariably gave him would die down.

It was ridiculous, he told himself. He was nearly fifty, a competent professional well versed in the vagaries of a solitary life. He didn’t NEED the complications of an attraction, especially one to a younger, beautiful colleague. It was all so—cliché. Middle-age crisis, he chided his ego with a bitter laugh, except he’d never had a first wife to trade up for the trophy model.

And there was no doubt that Sara Sidle would be a trophy for ANY man: the woman was long; lean, blessed with a touch of the exotic and a great deal of pragmatic charisma. Out of the corner of his eye he watched her gracefully kneel and pop the latches on the kit, her moves practiced and smooth. She fished out the camera, checked the flash and the film, then looked around, still smirking.

Resolutely, Gil turned his attention away from her and back to the center of the shop, to the bloody body on the carpet there.

It appeared to be a bludgeoning, Gil deduced, a serious one judging by the heavy trauma to the victim’s head. Certainly a single blow hadn’t killed her though, since the blood trail indicated she’d staggered then crawled to the middle of the shop before succumbing. Gil squatted down as Jim Brass approached, a slightly amused expression on his face.

“I think our victim was a bit more than tickled—“

“And a lot more than pink—a guess at lividity I’d say she’s been here for three to four hours.”

“Sounds right—we got the call from one of the employees who was supposed to come in for the swing shift which would put the time of struggle at about noon, when they were due to open.”

Gill tugged on his gloves and took a pair of tweezers out of his kit. Deftly, he fished among the blood-soaked hair on the back of the victim’s head and held up a long white shard of what looked like porcelain.

“Broken vase, statuary?”

Brass looked around sharply, trying not to let his glance linger on any one item in the erotic boutique. It was a losing battle.

“Let’s face it, Gris—if you’re looking for a long heavy cylindrical weapon, you’ve come to the right place,” he grunted.

***   ***   ***

Warrick tried not to look too closely at the flat dry sandwich before him; it was too reminiscent of the body from the ranch. Coming into the room, Catherine shot him a sympathetic glance.

“I’m SO with you there—IHOP will be off my break list for a while. Our victim’s name was Rowley Glover, and Robbins just confirmed cause of death as asphyxiation, mitigating factor, a ton and a half of certified Angus bull sitting on his face.”

“Glad THAT’s cleared up—“ Warrick snorted, sipping the can of soda in his hands. Catherine smiled briefly and sorted a few other papers in her hand.

“Glover was a veterinarian, had a practice specializing in cattle and sheep apparently—all the local ranches knew him.”

“And the other two?” Warrick drawled out as Lydia walked in, holding a steaming Tupperware container. The warm fragrance of tomato sauce drifted into the break room; Warrick’s stomach growled reflexively, making both Catherine and Lydia giggle.

“Tummy talking?” Catherine asked sweetly. Lydia set the dish down on the table and shot a glance at the other two, her smile inviting.

“Stuffed cabbage—I made plenty, so help yourself if you want.”

“You serious?” Intrigued, Warrick sat up and stared into the steaming dish. Catherine had already gotten a paper plate and was scooping out one of the rolled sections, humming a little. Lydia nodded.

“Over on the Dayshift, Naomi and I took turns bringing in Friday potluck. I guess you guys don’t do that, huh?”

Catherine and Warrick looked askance at her; Lydia giggled again and went to the soda machine. Warrick breathed in and smiled crookedly, reaching for the plastic spoon.

“Cabbage—I haven’t had that since I left home back in the Reagan era, man.”

“It’s a cruciferous vegetable and good for your digestive system,” Lydia murmured, trying to make a selection. Catherine nodded, wiping tomato sauce from her chin and munching happily.

“Don’t tell me it’s healthy—I was starting to ENJOY this!”

For a while the three of them ate, passing small talk and sharing the dish. Finally Catherine sighed, dabbing her lips.

“Okay, I think I’ll be able to function for another two days—thanks--now, back to the case.”

“The other two bodies were Karla and Vince Harris, the couple that owned the ranch,” Lydia supplied quickly, “Homicide ID’d them pretty quickly. So far it looks like a standard domestic violence with consequences.”

“So—wife and husband shoot each other—but what’s up with the bull and the vet?” Catherine mused. Warrick raised his eyebrows.

“Love triangle? Someone cheating on someone? Maybe hubby caught the wife with the vet?”

“Or wife caught the vet with the husband—“ Lydia offered.

“Or one of them with the bull—“ Warrick teased, making both women squeal and laugh.

“That’s just sick, Warrick—WAY too kinky even for Vegas—“ Catherine accused, leaning back in her chair and crossing her wrists on top of her head. Lydia nodded in agreement.

“Nothing is too kinky for Vegas—but we’ll take a look at the ballistics and trace evidence. What about the bull?”

“It’s being autopsied now—“ Lydia confirmed, shaking her head, “I’m hoping to hear back from Dr. Polito within the next few hours.”

“Man such a waste—“ Warrick mused. “That was some PRIME beef.”

“--Beef, tomatoes, cabbage, rice and a hint of garlic—“ came Gil’s authoritative voice as he entered the break room, glancing around sniffing. “Stuffed cabbage?”

“Oh yeah—Lydia brought it—“ Catherine enthused, shooting a glance at the woman who nodded again, “Have some!”

Gil hesitated, but Warrick flashed him a grin and flipped a thumbs up; seeing that, he picked up a paper plate.

“How’s the homicide at the sex toy shop going?” Catherine purred. Gil kept his eyes on the Tupperware.

“We’ve identified the victim but haven’t found the murder weapon yet,” he admitted reluctantly, scooping out some of the savory meal.

“Really? Considering the available arsenal--”

“I’ve got a shard of something vaguely resembling a plaster that I’m having the lab look at,” Gil replied, shooting her a quelling glare.

“Any theories?”

“I’ll hold off until we’ve got more to look at. This is good—“ he added. Lydia pinkened. A beeper went off, and she unclipped it, checking the number.


“I’ll go with—“ Warrick offered. Catherine waved them off, and once they were gone, turned to Gil with a knowing smile.

“So where’s Sara?”

“She’s checking a few—items--collected at the site for prints,” he replied uncomfortably. Catherine was silent for a beat then prodded,



“Sorry, it’s just strange to see you so—reticent about evidence. Normally the weirdest grossest things don’t seem to bother you.”

“Yes well dildos aren’t quite my forte. Give me a tarantula over a vibrator any day.”

“THAT is one sick image, Gris—“ Catherine laughed, earning another look from her boss. He finished eating the cabbage rolls and sighed; Catherine patted his arm comfortingly and left him alone to his thoughts.

Gil rubbed his eyes. The memory of Sara calmly bagging sex toys as thick as her wrist had been unnerving as hell, and his equilibrium hadn’t been helped much either by her cheerful familiarity with the items in question.

“Looks like the fight started in the back room. The victim was chased around the boutique past the condom counter, over by the wall of dicks—sorry, dildos, and finally overcome here in the center of the bondage display,” Sara had merrily announced. Gil remembered wincing slightly as she picked up something with tweezers, her eyebrow arching.

“Nipple clamps—at least they aren’t the alligator types—“


“—Clamps, like on wiring kits. Part of my territory in San Francisco covered South of Market so I’ve seen a few things—some guys are into nipple torture. Me, I prefer mine treated WAY gentler—“ she bubbled on her low throaty way.

And that comment alone brought forth scenes in Gil’s head that threatened his already none too stable facade. The thought of Sara’s nipples, (which he had seen outlined more than once through her silk tops and tee-shirts) wouldn’t leave his thoughts. She had an elegant chest anyway, and wasn’t afraid to showcase it, but now he was fighting the urge to peek at her every few minutes.

And the hell of it was, Sara knew it, too. Gil could sense her mild smugness peppered with humor as she moved from area to area, focusing on the evidence, making no other comments to him during their assessment of the scene.

A gauntlet had been thrown, a subtle taunt to his libido that he couldn’t quite avoid, not this time.

***   ***   ***

The remains of the bull were on the tiled floor, sitting on a plastic sheet. Warrick looked at Dr. Polito with polite amazement. Lydia was pink.

“Electrocuted, yes. The poor creature was literally shocked to death by the prod up its rectum,” the vet repeated.

“What was an electric prod doing up his—?” Warrick asked slowly, as if afraid of the answer. The vet, a dry thin little Italian man with great sad eyes magnified behind thick lenses snorted.

“Part of the semen collecting procedure, Mr. Brown. The bull is lured into a chute by a teaser cow in estrus. There, his penis is fitted with an artificial vagina for specimen collection, and ejaculation is brought forth by a quick shock to the bull’s prostate via the prod in his rectum.”

“Whoah, hey, doc—they SHOCK his ass to get him to—produce?” Warrick felt a little nauseated, and the urge to cross his legs was almost overpowering. Dimly he wished Nick was hearing this—it wouldn’t be the same in the retelling, that was for DAMN sure.

Lydia winced herself as the vet shrugged, elegantly.

“A single mild shock is the usual method, nothing inhuman there—but this prod is one of the few models out there with several higher settings and unfortunately it packs as much wallop as a stun gun. A shock of that magnitude against the animal’s prostate for an extended session was enough to stop his heart.”

“Excuse me, but isn’t semen collecting a two-person project?” Lydia asked in a soft, urgent tone. Polito nodded.

“Most of the time, yes—and there are some oddities here that bother me.”

“Like?” Warrick asked.

“First of all, the probe is the sort that has a button that needs to be held down to deliver the shock—it’s not automatic. And the second problem is that this bull was sterile.”

“Sterile?” Lydia asked in surprise. The vet motioned to a microscope on the counter, inviting her to look into it. The panel was a grey smear.

“No sperm in that ejaculate, so this bull was worthless for breeding purposes. He was no stud.”

***   ***   ***

Sara looked away from the results sheet of the fingerprint analysis and managed a faint smile. Greg was absolutely ecstatic to run the prints for her, especially after seeing what they had come off of.

“Lovely lovely latex—so yielding for prints—impressionable, like me—“ he chortled. Sara smiled, letting him do his preen and impress dance as he scanned the multiple prints and ran them through.

“My my, whole lotta touching going on—these phalluses have been handled by at least THREE different people.”

“You always touch the thing you love—“ she countered, tearing the sheet from the analysis and scanning the names. Greg looked over her shoulder and frowned.

“That’s weird—I KNOW that second name.”


“Nah, it’s the perp from the case Warrick’s on—Karla Harris. She left her prints on an electric probe that had been up a bull’s backside.”

Sara stared at the name, her jaw working a bit as she tried to see the connection. Thanking Greg absently, she made her way to Gil’s office, paper in hand, thinking hard.

“Gris, I think two of our cases are possibly linked.”

He turned from the bucket of plaster to look at her through his safety goggles, a quizzical expression in his eyes.


“Really. It’s too much of a coincidence for Karla Harris’s fingerprints to be in the Tickled Pink AND on the killing probe out at the ranch don’t you think?”

Pulling his goggles off, he came over, looking down at the fingerprint readout and nodded, slowly. Sara took a moment to study his profile, drinking in the features she loved so well: his curly silver hair, his amazingly long eyelashes, the soft curve of a mouth she’d fantasized about—

“Definitely odd. Now we just need to find the connection. Good job, Sara.”

“It wasn’t me, it was Greg—he caught the repetition—“ she conceded. Gil gave a nod, pleased she was willing to give the credit where it was due, and for a moment they stared at each other. Sara looked away first, reluctantly shifting her gaze to the bucket.

“What’s that?”

“Plaster from the shop. I’m mixing up one of the unused packets in an attempt to find the murder weapon.”

“Ah. What’s your theory?”

“Our victim, Wendy Ortiz, was dealt her blunt object trauma by something approximately eight and a half inches and about seven pounds, most likely cylindrical. Take a look at the porcelain shard from the scene and you’ll see it the splinter’s fracture line is vertical, with a curve to it.”

“Okay, so what does it mean?”

“Well, considering what we’ve already found at the site, it would be logical that she was making plaster casts of phalluses. The shape is right.”

“Eight and a half inches?” Sara blurted, blushing as she pulled away from the microscope. Gil was slightly pink himself.

“Just an approximation,” he added, wishing she didn’t look so amused.

“Casts from life? So she was killed with a plaster penis that was molded from someone out there,” Sara crossed her arms and frowned.

“Conceivably—and not much of a lead unless she kept records of clients or customers.”

“I can check the shop records—but I didn’t think plaster weighed that much, and wouldn’t it have shattered on the first blow?”

“Normally it doesn’t and yes, it would have shattered, but this plaster is an unusual mix—it’s almost 30 percent quartz grit, so that would add both weight and strength to the—phallus.”

Sara grinned and tilted her head, studying him.

“You can’t say it, can you?”


“Dick. You just can’t come out and call it a big fake stone dick, can you Gris?” she challenged sweetly. He looked at the bucket to avoid her glance.

“I believe in appropriate language in appropriate settings, Sara. The object in question is a phallus. A dick is something far different.”

“All right, how do you define a dick, Gris?”

“Conrad Ecklie.”

“Touché! And a cock?” she pressed, smiling at him. Gil lifted his head and shot her a serious look, speaking in a low voice.

“Well, aside from the standard definition of being the male bird of various species, a cock is what a penis becomes when it’s erect.”

Sara fought a shiver; actually hearing Gil say the word along with a startlingly clear definition surprised her enough to twitch a bit.


“Therefore every man has a penis, a few men ARE dicks and as for cocks—“

Anything more either of them would have said was interrupted by Catherine’s cheery entrance.

“Hey guys—we’ve got more of a mystery with our ranch case. Looks like Hector was shooting blanks.”

“Hector?” Both Gil and Sara asked curiously. Catherine nodded, her mouth pursed.

“The bull. Vet says he was sterile, so there wouldn’t have been any point in collecting his semen. But the records show that Doctor Glover was out there to the ranch on a regular basis, supposedly taking Hector’s semen for storage. Now why do you suppose he’d do that?”

Sara involuntarily glanced back at the bucket of plaster and grinned. Following her glance, Gil sighed.

“Probably to get a few inches closer to Karla Harris.”

***   ***   ***

Warrick and Lydia drove in silence back to the ranch, each lost in thought. Warrick glanced over at her once or twice, covertly. Her profile intrigued him, as did her calm demeanor. Lydia wasn’t high-strung like Catherine or Sara, or quirky like Gil. If anything she was the closest thing to serenity personified that he’d seen in a long time. Certainly her food had been a nice change of pace too.

Dimly Warrick wondered what Nick would make of her, and the though sparked a tiny negative note in him.

Once they arrived, Lydia moved to the vehicle parked haphazardly in the yard, a big Ford 250 with a rusted front bumper. Warrick donned his gloves and pulled the door open.

“If Gris is right, then Karla Harris beat Wendy Ortiz to death, drove back to the ranch, electrocuted Hector and blew her husband away. We’ve got the .38 she used on hubby and herself, and we know how she killed Glover, so all we need is Wendy’s murder weapon.”

“And a motive—we know she was having an affair with Glover; the neighbors confirmed that. But why do in the other two?” Lydia murmured, carefully shining her mag light around the floorboards of the truck. On the other side, Warrick did the same, both of them spotting the blood pool on the passenger seat at the same time.

“Bingo—“ carefully Lydia swabbed and bagged the pool, making a notation on the envelope. Warrick dropped lower, peering under the seats. He whistled.

“Oh man, this is too damn surreal—“

Cautiously, he reached in and gingerly pulled out a long plaster cylinder, its surface stained with rusty spatters and small lumps of grey. He blinked and held it up; Lydia blushed.

“That’s one really big—“

“—Reason to be pissed. I suspect we’re looking at Karla’s motive, and Glover’s last personal impression.”

***   ***   ***

“Sex—it all came down to sex-“ Catherine sighed, leaning on the counter in Gil’s office. Gil frowned, but didn’t contradict her as Sara gave a slow nod and picked up the story.

“The vet and the rancher’s wife having an affair. He keeps coming out to the ranch, presumably to collect samples from Hector, but in reality to leave his own deposits with her. Everything’s hunky dory until Glover starts seeing someone else.”

“--Wendy Ortiz the owner of the Tickled Pink, who presumably is awed enough with Glover’s attributes to make a more concrete impression of it—“ Warrick added. Lydia winced, following the line of deduction.

“So Karla follows him, finds out about Wendy and confronts her. Grabbing the model of Glover’s phallus, Karla chases her rival and clubs her to death with it, smearing the thing with brain tissue and blood. Then she carries it with her to the truck and drops it on the front seat.”

Gil held up the bagged dildo, contemplating it with a detached sadness.

“She drives back to the ranch, pulling up at such a speed that the dildo rolls off the seat and under it,” Gil recited softly. “At that point Glover is already putting Hector in the chute. Karla either pretends to help him or traps him there, and hits the on button for the probe, frying poor Hector, who gives into gravity and lands on Glover.”

Catherine let one elegant hand slam on the counter as she spoke.

“Pancake-o-rama for Glover. The noise brings hubby Vince out to the yard carrying a gun, and by then Karla has to be hysterical, well aware that she’s killed twice. She pulls the gun from him, they struggle, and she shoots him. At that point, completely freaked out, she turns the weapon on herself, and it’s over, the whole drama’s played out.”

For a moment none of them spoke. Sara finally sighed, shaking her head gently.

“The death of a myth, gentlemen—bigger isn’t always a good thing. Glover would have been better off keeping it to himself.”

“Just because he wasn’t smart about women, you’d consign the poor guy to his own means or wet dreams?” Warrick snorted cynically. Sara batted her eyes.

“Hey Warrick, I thought guys over the age of seventeen didn’t have wet dreams—“

“--Only when we forget to masturbate—“ Gil muttered absent-mindedly, reaching for a file on his desk. Everyone froze. Sensing the shock, Gil looked up, puzzled.

“You FORGET to masturbate?” Warrick asked softly. Catherine, still in smiling shock, slipped out the door, tugging Lydia along with her. Gil’s jaw worked but he could think of nothing to say as Warrick shook his head in sheer disbelief and sauntered out of the office.

Sara laid a hand on his shoulder, feeling the tension under her fingers. She dropped down to whisper in his ear.

“Two things, boss—TMI, and for the record—if you ever need a hand—“

She sauntered out, leaving him frozen in place behind his desk, breathing erratically, glasses sliding down his nose.



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