“ . . . So, this is just a rough idea of the accident, but there’s something about the timing that bothers me, and I appreciate you guys being willing to help me out here—“ Nick flashed a smile at the assembled group.
“Hey, no problem—“ Greg replied. They all stood out on the asphalt of the back lot behind the lab: Sara, Greg, Grissom and Nick, waiting patiently as the latter went over notes a clipboard. The night was calm and the white floodlights on the building made each person cast long shadows on the ground. Sara noted the chairs that Nick had set up at various points and smiled.
“Car accident? Is this that one with the, ah, cattle, Nick?”
The young CSI blushed, but nodded gamely, “Yeah. Cath gave it to me since she’s allergic to cowhide.”
“She’s allergic to cow PIES,” Sara murmured in a very soft tone to Greg, who snickered. Even Grissom managed a very faint grin, acknowledging the truth of Catherine’s universally known distaste for cases involving anything remotely connected with livestock. Nick was scribbling out nametags and handing them out.
“Okay, I need a
driver . . . Greggo, that’s you. You’re Ornell
“What, I have to wear a suspect’s HAT?”
“Nah man, it’s one of mine. Mr. Perkins claims he was wearing one and it shaded his eyes, so I’m just trying to get the exact conditions right. Come on, it’s clean.”
“I’m sensing a bias here—“ Greg replied, but he set the cap on his head, wincing a little as it dropped down over his ears. Sara snorted and Greg whipped it off again, adjusting the band.
“And we have the Herrerras; that will be you two. Sara, you’re Butch—“
“Excuse me?” she dimpled, mock-annoyed. Nick held out a nametag, a laugh in his eyes.
“You heard me. No girly girl for you this time, you’re going to be Butch Herrera, nervous father to be driving his sweet and lovely Rosalita--“ here he handed a nametag to Grissom, who arched an eyebrow at him, “—To the hospital because she’s in labor.”
Greg laughed, smothering it immediately as Grissom glared his way. Grissom then turned to Nick, his gaze demanding an answer to the question. Nick held out an appeasing hand.
“There’s a method to my madness, trust me, okay? I have a LEGITIMATE reason for Sara to be the husband and you the wife, Grissom, so just bear with me here.”
“Come on Griss—“ Sara soothed him. “Don’t get upset.” She paused for a moment and added with a grin, “It’s not good for the baby.”
“Nick—“ Grissom began with exaggerated patience, his expression darkening. Nick shook his head, his smile dimming a bit.
“I’m serious, man. Just—go with it. For me, okay?” came the soft little plead and a sudden painful flashback of Nick in the Plexiglas box came back to Grissom. He nodded tightly; a little loss of dignity was worth getting Nick back into the swing of the job.
Grissom carefully pinned the tag reading ROSALITA H. on his chest.
Sara already had hers on, proclaiming BUTCH H. and she shot him a smirking grin. Greg wore his ORNELL P. tag a little off-center, his cap now fitting properly. Nick nodded.
“Okay, I have to go round up my cattle volunteers, so ah, you guys hang here a moment. Get into character or something.“ With that, Nick ducked back into the building leaving the three night shift CSIs to stand in the floodlight.
“So, the Herrerras, huh?” Greg nodded, swaggering up in exaggeration. “Butch—and this is the, um, little woman?” he risked a glance at Grissom. Sara grinned broadly and rubbed his back.
“Yep, my little, uh, love tortilla. We’re expecting a bambino you know—“
“Niño,” Grissom growled faintly, “or niña. Bambino is Italian.”
“Oh I can see—“ Greg nodded, glancing at Grissom’s stomach. “Wow, could be twins—“
“Greg—“ Grissom rumbled, feeling real exasperation now. It was pretty clear both Sara and Greg were going to needle him all through this re-enactment and the sudden urge to dish a bit himself came forward. He lifted his chin and tried to think of a retort, but nothing came to mind.
Greg suddenly grinned. “I’ll go easy on you just because you’re in labor. Probably sound just like my big and beefy girls in the back—“
“Hey, hey don’t be comparing my wife to your bovine payload there, Vato—“ Sara glared, coming to Grissom’s defense. She turned to look at Grissom, a saucy twinkle in her eyes. “Don’t mind him, honeybuns, he’s just mad about his moo-moos running off across the highway—“
Whatever Grissom was going to say disappeared from his mind as Sara leaned forward and playfully rubbed her nose on his. The sudden, shockingly sweet proximity of her smile dazzled him. Grissom blinked, and Sara lightly patted his stomach.
“I’ve been thinking about names—maybe Gilberto—“
“It could be a girl . . .” Grissom countered in a little daze. Sara’s grin deepened, dimples clear.
“Oh I’d love that, just like her mama . . . beard and all—“
“Man, that is one perverted thought—“ Greg broke in, his face screwed up in a moue of distaste. Both Grissom and Sara looked at him, their little reverie broken. Greg shrugged. “You know, a little bitty baby with like, the Riker beard Grissom’s got.”
“Riker—Oh man you are SO right! I never realized it but it IS, isn’t it?” Sara chortled, looking at Grissom once more. Grissom closed his eyes—it was going to be a LONG night.
*** *** ***
“Okay, so let’s see what we have . . .” Nick murmured encouragingly. Greg was in a rolling office chair, baseball cap on, pretending to clutch a steering wheel in his hands. Behind him, David Phillips and Judy were standing and looking more sheepish than bovine. David held a bicycle horn in one hand, and Judy a cowbell.
“Okay, so the Monarch Meat Truck is set . . . “ Nick nodded, giving Judy a wink. She blushed, smiling back, clutching her cowbell tightly. “And now the Herrerras . . .”
He looked over at Sara and Grissom, who were sitting in another set of office chairs, side by side. Sara had her left hand out, gripping an imaginary steering wheel; the right one patted Grissom’s knee. He looked down and watched it a second, then shifted his glance to her broad grin.
“Don’t worry babe, you’re still the hot mamacita I married.”
“Sure, you say that NOW—“ Grissom shot back, keeping a perfectly straight face as Sara did a double take. Nick gave an approving nod and motioned them to scoot forward a bit.
“Okay, now from the initial report, the Herrerras were coming into the intersection and had the right of way, even though they were moving through the yellow . . . “
“Oh Honey, you always drive too fast,” Grissom murmured to Sara. She squeezed his knee again.
“Hey, we’re having a baby, Sweet Churrito baby. I think it’s important that happens at the hospital and not the back seat, okay?”
“Full circle to the point of conception?” Greg hooted from across the intersection, making both David and Judy blush. Nick frowned and looked at his report more closely.
“Guys, guys, settle down now . . . except for you, Gr-Rosalita. You’re having contractions, so YOU can be bitchy.”
Grissom looked smug.
Greg grinned, shaking his head. “Too easy—I’m not going to take THAT shot.”
“That’s good, because I need you to roll out into the intersection, ten-four.” Nick murmured. Obligingly Greg scooted his chair forward, warbling.
“Staaaaand by youuuuuur Mannnnnnn . . .” behind him David shuddered and Judy threatened to clang Greg in the back of his head with the cowbell.
“Okay, according to this you tried to stop but claimed the sun was in your eyes—“
“Aghhhh, it BURNS, it BURNS!” Greg yelped out cooperatively, throwing an arm over his face in dramatic fashion. Nick sighed.
“Get serious man, just because nobody died in this case the first time doesn’t mean there won’t be a body THIS time—“ he warned. His threat almost worked, but Greg was still grinning. Nick glanced at Sara and Grissom.
“Okay, there’s the impact, nothing major but it shakes you two up. Rosalita, you’re panicking, in hysterics.”
Grissom arched an eyebrow. “I don’t DO hysterics, Nick.”
A second later in complete contradiction to this statement, Grissom suddenly squirmed and nearly jumped out of his chair. Nick brightened. Sara coughed hard to cover her giggles while Grissom glared at her offending hand as it rested on his thigh, fingers curling towards the inside of the leg. She beamed at him.
“Sorry there, my little pregnant piñata—I guess my hand slipped.”
“Slipped—“ Grissom commented dryly, settling himself back on the chair and shifting a little. “—Don’t give me grounds for a divorce before the baby gets here, Butch.”
“Can I help it if
got adorable thighs? Any court in
“Yes well look where my thighs got me today—pregnant and provoked—“ Grissom hissed back. Nick motioned to Sara.
“Okay. The Herrerra’s cell phone is dead. Sara, I need you to get out of the car and start running.”
“Uh, where?” Sara demanded, rising out of her chair and looking around. Nick pulled out a stopwatch. “Take off around the outside of the fence, one lap. It’s the about the same distance Butch claims he ran to get help. Go!”
Sara yelped and shot off in a long loping stride to the gate and darted around it. Greg, David and Judy watched for a moment, then Nick called to them.
“Okay, David, Judy, you need to start your stampede towards the car . . . slow and loud . . . “
With embarrassment, the two of them stepped around Greg, honking and clanking as they started towards Grissom.
“Moo. Moo.” David muttered. Judy swung her cowbell in a wide arc.
“MwooooOOOOoooooh!!” she bellowed out into the night, drawing applause from Greg and a surprised look from Nick.
“Wow. That is one AMAZING cow impression.” He told her with sincerity. Judy blushed, shifting the cowbell from one small hand to the other.
“Thanks. I had a cow for a pet when I was little—“
“Milk?” David broke in. Judy nodded.
“Yep. Two gallons a day, fresh. Uncle Paul babied her so we did it by hand instead of with the automation—“
Sara came around the fence, panting a little, grinning. “Back—we need better lights near the parking lot end, people. I nearly smacked into the rail guard. Nice cow call by the way, Judy. I think they heard that one all the way to Pahrump.”
Nick looked over at her and frowned. Sara rolled her eyes.
“Sorry, Sare—look, I’m pushing the button . . . NOW!”
Sara took off again around the fence. Grissom leaned back, grinning. As she passed close, he called to her.
“The contractions are getting closer, Honey!”
Greg spun in a circle on his chair. “So, what am I supposed to be doing?”
“Well according to YOUR statement, Mr. Perkins, you got out of your truck and tried to herd the cattle.”
“Herd them?” Greg looked skeptical. “We’re talking about forty or fifty, right? All upset and nervous because of the accident. And this one old trucker seriously thought he was going to HERD them?”
Nick gave a shrug. “That’s the statement, man. So, hop out of your rig and see if you can get Ferdinand and Bubbles here back in the truck.”
Judy shot Nick a questioning look and he nodded.
Grissom watched, smiling faintly as Greg darted around a completely uncooperative Judy.
“Get back in the truck, shoo, cow, shooo!”
“I’m baaaaack!” Sara announced, puffing a bit. Nick clicked the stopwatch and grinned at her, motioning her to sit by Grissom.
Judy ducked under Greg’s arm.
“Sorry Greg, but cows don’t shoo. They’re not flies.” She informed him brightly. Greg turned to David, who stood unmoving.
“What’s YOUR problem?” Greg demanded. David managed a small smile.
“Oh nothing. I’m sitting here just quietly, smelling the flowers. And wondering what the word ‘Shoo’ means.”
Sara slumped into the chair next to Grissom, studying his profile as he watched the cattle drive play out. “Miss me?”
“I’m not speaking to you,” Grissom retorted, crossing his arms across his chest. “And the minute I’ve had the baby I’m going home to mother.”
“That’s just the contractions talking—“ Sara bluffed. “You know you don’t mean it, my little bearded Bonita. Hector your love stallion will make it alllll better.”
“You RAN OFF and left me in the middle of the intersection in LABOR, you fiend. What kind of father does THAT?” Grissom scowled. Sara looked at Nick, who waved the clipboard and spoke up.
“Hector says he was back in less than a minute after he’d flagged down a DoodleCake truck and radioed for help. Says he scared the cattle away from the driver’s side door and managed to calm Rosalita down, as much as he could—“
Sara cupped Grissom’s face in her palms, bringing his gaze to hers as she popped a hard firm kiss on his mouth. Grissom’s hands flailed comically for a moment behind her, then gripped her shoulders. Amid applause from Nick, Judy and David, Greg laughed, shouting out:
“Oh Rosalita, has your Hector-daddy got a DoodleCake for YOU—“
Grissom opened his mouth to speak, and at that moment their two office chairs began to roll backwards. Sara and Grissom twisted, trying to keep their balance, but failed when Sara applied insufficient braking action and Grissom’s bulk pulled her out of her seat. She toppled onto him, sending the pair of them along with the chair in an ungraceful dump on the asphalt.
Greg and David scrambled over to help them up. Nick sighed, scratching the back of his head.
“Yeah, that’s pretty much what happened to the Herrerras too. Hit the shift and threw their car into reverse.” He made a notation on the paper. “I thought it was a fluke, but if we can re-create it here, then it’s got to be what happened. Thanks guys, I appreciate your help on this.”
“So that’s it? No more stampeding?” Judy asked with a hint of sadness in her voice. Nick shot her a smile and took the cowbell from her. Greg was helping to dust Sara off and Grissom was limping a little towards them a gleam in his eye.
“Well for now . . . but I’ll tell you what—if you’d like to come by later and shoot the bull with me, Brahma style—“ he offered in a low tone. Judy blushed.
“Ow! Grissom, Grissom . . . Uncle---“ Greg moaned as his arm was gently twisted up behind his back. Sara blinked a little.
“Never taunt a woman in labor, Greg. Especially if she’s bigger, meaner and older than you are.” Grissom commented casually as he released his grip. “Chalk it up to the hormones.”
“Message received—“ Greg acknowledged with a wince. He pulled off his cap and ran a hand through his hair. “Man, I never thought you’d resort to violence though, Grissom. You’re not the type.”
“Yes, well once
years, three months and eleven days, I like to bully,”
Grissom growled lightly.
“In the meantime, we still have that 419 from
Slowly the rest of the re-enacters wandered back into the building. Sara straightened up the office chair, feeling a little breathless, and not just from her run. Grissom turned to face her, his expression unreadable. “So . . . Butch.”
“Rosalita . . . “ Sara replied, her voice a little squeaky. Grissom eyed her mouth thoughtfully.
“How did you know . . . he kissed her?”
Sara smiled, and in the glow of the floodlight, her dimples framed her smirk. She reached out to Grissom’s nametag, touching it lightly.
“Part of it was intuition. Part of it was . . . improvisation. And you just looked like you needed to be . . . kissed.”
Grissom took that in with a little frown. He stepped closer to Sara, gripping one of the office chairs. He leaned down, lips brushing hers, breath mingling with hers.
“Good interpretation. One that I think should be . . . practiced—“ he whispered.
“Practiced?” Sara whimpered happily as Grissom laughed softly.
“Yes. Until the cows come home.”