NOTES AND DISCLAIMERS: Everyone herein is not my property. This is not for profit, not ever ever. For the bestest Sandy's birthday. Thanks to Dine and kel.


WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS, STAYS IN VEGAS.



A case of arson of a blackjack table happens right in front of a celebrity crowd. Which is how Nick ends up putting on his gloves in front of a crowd that includes Jennifer Lopez and her bodyguards. He doesn't think about it then, he thinks about the evidence and the procedures. Later, in the locker room, Warrick and Greg are talking about her. Warrick says, "She was checking you out, Nick."

"J-loooooooooo," Greg says. "She was checking me out." He taps his chest.

"She never even saw you, Greg," Warrick says, not quite laughing. "But Nick. Nick she was definitely checking out."

"Y'all," Nick says. "Give me a break."

He thinks about it when he gets home, thinks about Jennifer Lopez looking him over and then whispering to her bodyguard, getting one of them to pass him a key and then waiting for him. In her hotel room, wearing something loose, they'd end up on the bed and he'd hold her. He'd hold her thighs above his cock and then his hands would move up, her body super smooth and tight and taut and she'd be wet and ready for him, her head thrown back and neck exposed --

--then he comes. He turns off the shower and takes off his gloves. So much of what he does at work involves layers of separation, gloves to prevent his own life contaminating what he touches. He doesn't touch anything but latex.

Gil says, "Heard you had a celebrity yesterday."

"Don't be fooled by the rocks that she got," Greg sings. Gil looks at him blankly and Greg's eyes widen as he backs out of the room.

"I didn't even notice," Nick says, smiling. "I liked Out of Sight, but I haven't seen any of her other movies."

Gil looks at him, a question in his eyes, but Nick just smiles back.

Greg stops singing Jenny From The Block after Catherine smacks him on the ass. Warrick says, "Thank you," very loudly.

*

A case of breaking, entering and probable theft happens in a hotel room occupied by a suspected east coast mobster. The man's named Corinthos and he makes a big fuss about not wanting the police, not caring about whatever was taken. Nick ignores the noise as he puts on his gloves and collects the evidence. The alleged crime boss's assistant/lieutenant/errand boy Jason Morgan comes in and calms him down, pulls him out of the room.

When Nick's done, he walks out and Corinthos and Morgan are standing there, arms crossed. Jason Morgan has a blank, set face and he leans in to mutter something to his boss. They're both staring at him. Nick looks back to show he's not scared and then heads back to the lab.

The break-in ends up unresolved. The fingerprints don't match anything in the files, Corinthos won't talk. He just sits and stares and looks angry. When he leaves, his lieutenant is waiting. One of the two beat cops who started on the case mutters that it's pretty clear who bends over there. Nick glares at them and they both leave.

When he gets home, he thinks about Corinthos sitting in the room, watching him through the two-way mirror and the way Corinthos fumed and burned, his dark eyes and the tattoo on his upper arm, the sheen of sweat on his forehead. He thinks about Corinthos yelling and throwing things, glass breaking against blank hotel walls, Jason Morgan with his blank restrained face coming in and grabbing his arm. Corinthos pushing Morgan down across the couch, his angry hands scrabbling at Morgan's jeans and pulling them down, spit as lube, no condom, Morgan's face changing to anger and pleasure, Corinthos scratching Morgan's hips as he thrusts and thrusts and the couch's fabric is harsh against Morgan's bare stomach--

--then he comes. Nick takes off his latex gloves and turns off the shower. He shakes his head and thinks he's a little fucked up.

The next morning, Gil says, "You're prepared to testify on this tomorrow?" He holds up a case file, liquor store robbery that Nick worked with Sara three months ago. Sara chewed gum the whole time and only said something not relating to the case. She offered him a piece of gum and said it was cinnamon.

Nick reviews the facts and what he logged before he says, "No worries, I got it all."

Gil says, "Good," and smiles, walks away. Nick looks the other direction after a few seconds. This is his work.

*

A case of assault happens on the sidewalk in front of a very large casino, witnessed by a current lecturer and retired police detective from Baltimore. "Frank Pembleton," he says when asked his name, a cadence to his voice that makes Nick almost look up. Pembleton describes the crime with more details than Nick ever hears from witnesses. At one point, Pembleton says, "Excuse me, excuse me, sir, you want to look over there." Nick looks up and goes where Pembleton is pointing. He would be offended, but the voice is the voice of command. Where Pembleton pointed, Nick finds a cigarette butt. The cigarette butt has DNA on it and they have so much evidence on the mugger they don't even need to have Pembleton testify.

Before they realize they don't need Pembleton, he comes into the lab and talks to Gil. Or Pembleton talks, long sentences and big words and Gil stares, fascinated. He interjects a few words and Pembleton dances off from there, new sentences and paragraphs. That voice, Nick thinks, works right through the latex under the skin. He is sure that Pembleton was as skilled a policeman as Gil a criminalist. Pembleton, though, he has a wife and child waiting for him in the car. The wife is beautiful and the child has the same intelligent eyes as the wife.

*

A case of possibly intentional mischief or sabotage happens at a performance at the Hard Rock and a lighting rig falls and injures a stagehand. The performer is some ex-boyband singer and when Nick sees him, he's covered in sweat. Dancers in smaller outfits than Catherine probably wore stripping huddle around, looking nervous. Nick ignores them.

While he examines the rigging, he hears Sara and the new detective questioning the singer. They call him "Mr. Chasez." Nick turns around to tell Sara what he's found and sees Mr. Chasez push his hair back. Sweat pools in the suprasternal notch of his neck. Nick waits patiently to talk to Sara.

In the shower he thinks about licking Chasez's neck, the taste of his sweat and--

--then he looks down and thinks, stop. He can't pretend this is normal. Somewhere there is normal for him.

He goes into his living room in his sweats and turns on the TV. Nick still watches the Discovery Channel and he still has extra sports channels. He flips between a documentary on arsenic poisoning and the Aggies getting slaughtered by Oklahoma. He stops correcting the documentary and rooting for the Aggies when he thinks maybe he's not alone. But of course he is. He checks every night. He doesn't admit it to anyone else, but he does.

*

A case of murder happens in a parking lot of a book bindery. Nick drives, Gil looks straight ahead and they listen to the police scanner the whole way there. On the way back, Gil reviews the evidence, sometimes out loud, sometimes not which makes for conversations that last five minutes and then stop abruptly. Nick likes it, it keeps him on his toes.

Nick's other case is a television writer who was beaten in a locked room no one else entered. Sara says, "She claims it was a child named Ruthie, but that's a character on her show." The doctor's report says some of the marks couldn't have been self-inflicted. Sara makes a disgusted face and sighs.

They solve the murder easily and can't resolve the assault. Nick waits for Gil to sum up the failure on the assault case with a quote or a quip but all Gil says is he thinks Ruthie really did swing the bat. It doesn't sound like a joke at all.

In the shower Nick thinks about the broken hands of the writer and the blood spattered on the sock of the supervisor at the calling center and then Sara's face, her wavy hair, Greg dancing in the lab, Catherine's chest heaving after she runs and Gil. Gil with his beard and his eyes and when Nick looks down he thinks this might be sick. But closer to normal than doing it with his latex gloves on.

He's reading one of the new journals that comes in every Tuesday and running his fingers over every page. He is trying to re-learn and he starts with the texture of paper. Greg starts to talk about oils on the fingertips which Nick knows perfectly well but Greg goes on to talk about the effect on paper. All sorts of paper. "Let's talk about the damage," Greg says.

"Let's not," Nick says.

Thankfully, Gil walks in before Greg can continue his lecture. Greg clams up when Gil stares at him, doesn't even finish his sentence. It's a full-on Grissom stare and Greg turns on his heel, gone.

*

A case of nothing happens on a Wednesday night. Nothing happens anywhere in Las Vegas that requires a CSI. They all work on unresolved cases and try not to jinx it.

Nick could make an itemized list of things that have happened and left their marks on him. He won't make a list because he knows it, he doesn't need reiterations, reminders, or relearnings. He prefers the life unexamined. He's sure Gil doesn't make itemized lists of those sort of things.

What he wants is someone waiting in the car for him. Or someone to wait for.

He shakes his head and goes back to itemizing the contents of the garbage of a suspect in a murder. He's looking only at the soiled paper and empty boxes stained with food until he sees a wrist. Gil, he knows immediately, not wearing his gloves. And since he's not, his hand hovers over the mess. Gil says, "Can we afford to leave for dinner, you think?"

Nick looks up from the white table and everything looks washed out. "I have twenty bucks on me."

Gil smiles slowly. "I meant that the act of leaving the lab might trigger a crime wave given how our evening is going."

Nick smiles as the room comes back into focus and color. "It's worth a try." He makes sure everything is properly labeled before he walks out and Gil waits.

When they get back with take-out Chinese, there have been three assaults, one murder, and two suspicious fires. Gil puts down his dinner and says, "Let's take this one." Another slow smile and Gil almost touches Nick's elbow as he gestures towards the door. Nick thinks he can feel the touch.

The end.

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