Lab Girls: Cross- Jurisdiction, or What Happens In Vegas Sometimes Leaves Vegas
Grissom snapped his glasses closed and tried to remember whether he’d left his car keys in his desk or his locker. “And before we wrap up, I wanted to mention that the New York office will be sending a team next week.” He reached for his binder and thanked God it was 6 AM Friday morning.
The end of week staff meeting had passed with relatively little in the way of interesting information to cause any disruptions, or in laymen’s terms, to distract Jessica or Marisa from their respective activities of doodling and staring into space, but Grissom had found he didn’t particularly mind the lab techs’ non-attention provided they refrained from throwing things, playing charades, making duck noises; in fact, making any noises other than pen or pencil on paper, and they’d even fought him on that. Are Sharpies an acceptable exception to pencils, indeed. So when Jessica snapped her pencil in half and Marisa knocked her watery coffee all over herself, he took notice.
“You two alright?” he asked while Marisa mopped at her shirt with a fistful of Kleenex. Jessica bounced over to the first aid cabinet and returned with a paper towel roll.
“We’re fine,” Jessica said in a high, tight voice. Grissom recognized it as the same one she used when trying to explain why she showed up to work wearing a shirt he knew for a fact Nick had worn the day before. “You…ah. You say the New York office is coming here?”
Grissom glanced at his notes. “As of Monday morning.” Marisa paled and Jess flushed. Silence reigned in the conference room.
Marisa recovered first. “But they—they’re…they’re all dirty and gritty and…and from New York!” Grissom nodded slowly and looked at Greg. He looked equally confused.
Grissom spoke carefully and distinctly, “Yes, Marisa. They are from New York.” He narrowed his eyes at the girls. “Is this going to be a problem?”
Jessica leaned forward across the table, her posture attempting to pull off uninterested and instead radiating barely suppressed panic. “She means, why are they coming here? Can’t they just--“ Jessica flapped her hands out and away from her body, “—stay in New York?”
Grissom sighed and pulled out his glasses again. “Cross jurisdiction case. They’re very rare, but they do happen. Mac Taylor has produced some compelling evidence that our matchbook arsonist got his start in the boroughs.” Jessica began to make a quiet, wheezing noise. “Are you—“ Grissom turned to an even paler Marisa. “Is she alright?”
Marisa shoved Jessica’s head under the table and pounded on her back. “She’s fine. She’s totally fine. Who exactly is coming?”
Grissom shrugged. “Taylor’s the team leader, so it’s his call, but from what his email said, I’m thinking it’ll be Danny Messer and Lindsay Monroe. Mac mentioned the lead investigator might take an interest as well. Flack somebody or another.” Marisa blinked her eyes owl-wide, and ducked her head under the table as well.
Eighteen months ago, behavior like this might have thrown Grissom in spite of his own self-admittedly eccentric habits. But that was eighteen months ago, and Grissom and the other CSIs packed up their briefcases and headed for their lockers while the two techs sucked in noisy lungfuls of air with their heads between their knees. Later Grissom would kick himself for not asking, though of all the other professional investigators, only Warrick thought to ask, “Didn’t you two work at the New York office?”
Jessica peeked over the table’s edge. “Very, very briefly,” she said and disappeared to continue wheezing out of sight.
* * *
So help him God, Mac Taylor could not figure out why the thought of Las Vegas was giving him what felt like minor panic attacks. In reality, Mac had never actually experienced a panic attack, so he couldn’t be sure that’s what was going on, but whatever it was, it was disturbing and distracting. The first time the Chief of D’s had mentioned he’d gotten a wire from the LVPD asking about a budding arsonist using matchbooks from Brooklyn, Mac had to squelch the urge dive under his desk. Sinclair must have noticed the cold sweat because he asked if Mac was feeling under the weather, which wasn’t exactly true but certainly not false.
None of the other team members seemed remotely worried by the prospect of Vegas. In fact, a couple of them needed some calming down. “No, Danny, you cannot bill time you spend on the Strip as work-related research,” Mac sighed as Flack snickered into his hand.
“Aw, c’mon, Mac,” Danny moaned as Mac shoved the pair of them out of his office. “What’s the point of going to Vegas if we can’t see the sights?”
“See all the sights you want, Messer,” said Stella as she brushed past them. “Just not on the department’s dime.”
“How’d you know about that?” Mac asked as Stella popped a flash drive into his computer.
“How’d you think? They came to me first.”
Mac chuckled. “I get it. If Mommy says no.” He shook his head. Somebody needed to have a little chat with those two about appropriate workplace humor. Maybe a couple weeks on desk duty would settle Danny down a bit.
Stella bit her lip as the files uploaded. “Are—are you going to be okay out there?”
Mac’s stomach twisted. What did she know? “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”
Stella rolled her eyes and clicked her tongue. She always was an awful poker player. “No reason. Just stay smart, okay?” She smiled and Mac smiled back. Overprotective Stella was comfortable, familiar territory. He pushed Ominously Knowledgeable Stella out of his head and concentrated on catching a trio of bank robbers.
It wasn’t until the plane actually touched down in McCarran International Airport that Mac remembered the last time he’d felt this nervy. A while back, there were a couple of lab techs. Only really in the offices for a handful of weeks. Pretty, dark-haired girls with glasses. His memory was suspiciously hazy on the particulars of their departure. Something about weapons? Mac chalked it up to the perils of getting older and tramped down the tiny voice in his head chanting danger, Danger, DANGER Mac Taylor!
Grissom turned out to be an odd bird with a penchant for bad puns, and Mac had to send more than one quelling look at a chuckling Flack and Danny during the tour of the Vegas labs. Decent equipment, but low lighting, though Mac supposed anything would look dim after constant, streaming sunlight. The people were nice enough, Mac thought as he struggled to keep track of their names. Warrick, Catherine, Brass, Greg. Then Grissom turned down another hallway, and there they were. “Mac,” said Grissom as he gestured to the silent girls in white coats. “This is Marisa and Jess.” The girls offered lopsided smiles and waved weakly. And it all came back.
* * *
“Hi! We’re meeting now for the first time!” Grissom noticed Marisa’s voice sounded incredibly perky and overtly friendly. Something was desperately wrong.
“I thought—didn’t you work together in New York?” Grissom asked. Mac blinked and opened his mouth, but Jessica beat him to the punch.
“Technically, we worked most closely with Adam Ross. Almost all of our results were digital. You know, textable and whatnot.” Grissom hated texting lab results. This job required a certain amount of impersonality, and he didn’t believe in leaching what little interpersonal contact existed in a scientific lab out of their lives with excess technology. But that was New York for you.
“Hmph,” he huffed, and hurried through the rest of the tour. Danny Messer and Nick hit it off immediately and disappeared into the hair and fiber lab, trading college baseball stories back and forth while Flack began discussing the nitty gritty of a cross-jurisdiction case with Brass. Lindsay was making it her personal business to shake the hand of every person in the city of Las Vegas, or at least in the crime lab. She was presently trying to get to Marisa, who was standing directly behind Jessica and pivoting to avoid Lindsay’s outstretched palm.
“Don’t I remember you?” Lindsay asked, the smile in her voice faltering a bit.
Jessica shook her head. “I’m pretty sure you were out sick while we were there.”
“I was a blonde in New York,” cried Marisa. She turned to Grissom. “I don’t even know this girl!”
Lindsay giggled and shook her hand anyway. “We should all go out tomorrow. You know, to get acquainted and everything. Maybe I could get Danny or Flack to come along.” Marisa looked ill. Jessica plowed onward.
“Marisa’s super busy…for the foreseeable future. With her office-sanctioned CSI boyfriend.”
Lindsay grinned at Marisa, who stared at the ceiling, then looked inquiringly at Jessica. “What about you? You seeing anybody?”
Jessica held very still and Grissom listened intently. She glanced at Grissom and then said, “I—I am without plans tomorrow evening as I am romantically uninvolved as far as anyone who is interested is concerned.” Grissom raised an eyebrow. Touché, Jess. Through everything, Mac Taylor had been quietly watching the girls in front of him, nodding to himself. At Jessica’s statement, he exhaled deeply and folded his arms. Lindsay took notice.
“Would you like to come along, Mac?” she asked. Now Jessica began to look nervous.
Mac looked from Jessica to Marisa to Lindsay, and back again. “I’d love to, Linds,” he replied.
* * *
“We’re so screwed.” Nick stopped short in the hallway at the sound of Marisa’s warbley voice coming from the lay-out room. It was shortly followed by the sound of glass clinking.
“We’re—we’re not screwed.” Jessica now and more glass noises. Nick peeked in to see an open bottle of Green Apple Vodka being shoved back up onto the softly glowing table top. Nick had to stifle a laugh. With the New York team used working the day shift, Ecklie decided to mess with everyone’s schedule and move the swing team to graveyard, and the graveyard to the day shift. Needless to say, he was nobody’s favorite person right now, but Nick couldn’t say he wasn’t enjoying the idea of a night off. Marisa sounded slightly less enthusiastic.
“We are so totally screwed,” slurred Marisa. “The entire plan is a screwy, screwed plan, which is screwed up.” She paused, as if to consider her words. “Yes,” she said decisively. “In conclusion, screwed.”
“I don’t know how you can drink this stuff,” complained Jessica. “Tastes like medicine. It’s sick.”
“Jess! Focus! Screwed, remember?”
“Yes, right. Screwed.” Jess sighed and Nick watched the bottle disappear. “Well, I say we stick to the No-Nothing plan, and we’ll be fine. “ Nick frowned. Both girls had clammed up when he’d asked about New York, but they were a little on the crazy side to begin with, so Nick really didn’t pay that much attention.
“You ladies plotting some kind of heist?” Nick swanned in and rounded the table to find both techs stuffing Altoids into their mouths and hiding half-empty glasses. They’d smiled and flirted, and frankly Nick had seen stranger things than co-workers drinking after hours. Pre-gaming, they’d called it. Nick drove the pair of them over to the restaurant in his truck, Marisa tactfully looking out the window as Nick draped an arm around Jessica.
The meal itself went well enough. But then Warrick had the bright idea to move the entire party to a bar three streets off the Strip, and the evening began to get away from Nick. It started innocently enough. Messer was a character and Flack turned out to be just as much fun. Wendy and Hodges kept to themselves, their chairs butted together at the corner of the table. Lindsay hung on every word out of Grissom’s mouth, and Greg hung on Lindsay, though Marisa seemed a little preoccupied watching Danny to notice. Jessica, on the other hand, kept sneaking looks at Mac and sipping her beer a little too fast. Nick had a couple longnecks and excused himself to the men’s room, only to come back to find things had switched up in his absence. Greg, Grissom, and Lindsay were nowhere to be found, Wendy and Hodges were pressed together on the tiny dance floor, and Marisa was all but sitting in Danny’s lap. And Jessica? Jessica was flipping her hair at Mac, plucking at his sleeve, batting her damn eyes. Nick tugged Jessica over to the dance floor and away from Taylor, who was looking distinctly flushed.
“What’re you doing?” he asked as they skirted a swaying Hodges and a drunkenly cooing Wendy.
“Nothing,” she said, the picture of virtue. Nick was not buying it.
“Nothing? You’re flashing that Yankee some kinda come on look.”
Jess actually looked confused. “I was not.” She looked over her shoulder as Marisa made her move into Danny’s personal space. “I was being nice.”
“Nice is smiling politely. Touching his clothes is a come on.”
Now Marisa was dragging a seriously intoxicated Messer over to the increasingly crowded dance floor. “Hey Marisa,” Jessica called as the other girl tried to keep Danny’s hands in position.
“I have no memory of my time in New York,” Marisa responded.
“Good for you. Was I coming on to Mac back there?”
Marisa sagged as Danny leaned heavily on her. “Nope. It wasn’t a come on. It was the opposite of a come on. It was a—a go thence.” Danny giggled, a high-pitched sound, and Marisa grinned, all teeth and nefarious intentions.
Jessica smiled, smug. Nick shook his head. Over Jessica’s shoulder, Nick saw Mac stand and meander over. If he asks to cut in—
“May I cut in?” Mac ask. Nick felt Jessica tense, then relax. Before Nick could respond, Mac had twirled Jessica up and out of reach with some kind of fancy Yankee dance move. Jessica, the traitor, said nothing and kind of hiccupped when he put his hand of her hip.
Fine. “Fine,” Nick said and left in a huff as Marisa fisted pumped her approval. As he headed home, Nick wondered if he was being childish, but decided to talk to his sort-of girlfriend tomorrow morning. After all, what kind of trouble could they get into in one night?
* * *
Greg woke up with his mouth tasting life cotton balls and feeling twice as dry. When he took stock of his situation, he realized he was not, in fact, at home in his bed. He was, rather, half-dressed, missing one shoe, and curled in the fetal position in the back seat of his compact car. A brief inventory of his body was dismal at best. His back was openly and vocally displeased. His knees were not on speaking terms with him. Greg groaned and winced as the loud rang overly loud in the confined space. He knew he should have sprung for a mid-sized. He peered through back window to see the familiar shape of the crime lab blocking out the searing mid-morning sunlight. Coffee, Greg thought through his hangover haze. Inside that building, there is coffee.
Greg slogged across the interminable parking lot to reach the front door, developing a new appreciation for marathon runners. Odysseus hadn’t had as far to go as Greg. After ten years, or thirty yards, Greg finally managed to wrench open the door, which someone had cleverly lined with lead overnight, and step into the blessed cool of the air conditioning. He stumbled his way into the break room and made a beeline for the coffee maker. He poured himself a cup of piping hot black goodness and shuffled past an undershirt-wearing Hodges to the table. “Morning, guys,” he yawned in Wendy’s direction. Greg stared bleary at the pretty lab tech. “Your shirt’s too big,” he mumbled as he tipped his mug toward her oversized Oxford. “That’s weird.”
Wendy and Hodges looked from Greg to each other and back again as Greg slurped his coffee. Greg sighed as the caffeine penetrated his brain. And then he set down the cup. Wendy put her hands over her face. Hodges put one hand on Wendy’s shoulder. Greg’s trained eye picked up a new ring on Wendy’s left hand. And a matching one on Hodges’s. “Are…you two?” Greg said.
Wendy went bright red as Hodges rubbed the back of his neck. “Check your back pocket,” said Hodges as he produced a duffle bag from one of the cabinets. Greg fished around and found a folded piece of paper. Unfolding it revealed it to be...
“A marriage certificate?!” Hodges smiled sheepishly. Greg was vaguely aware of groggy coworkers stalking the halls outside. He stood and flipped the dead bolt lock.
Wendy dropped her head onto the table. “You were a witness,” Hodges added helpfully. “The Lil’ White Chapel, around four last night? You came in with Grissom and that New York girl. Leslie?”
Greg concentrated. “Lindsay. Where’d they go?” Hodges raised her eyebrows and began rummaging around the duffle until he produced a spare shirt still covered in shrink wrap. Wendy avoided his eyes. Greg shook his head. “Whatever. How much longer are we on day shift? This daylight is killing me.”
“Well, New York is going home this morning. Most of New York anyway,” Wendy said.
Greg said, “What do you mean most of New York?” Hodge looked at Wendy again and Greg burst out, “For the love of—what’s going on?” Hodge reached for a newspaper on the counter next to the coffeemaker and dropped in front of Greg.
Out of Town and Local CSIs Cause Havoc
Local law enforcement agents were shocked last night when an anonymous tip called them to the scene of a disturbance at the MGM Grand to find several members of the Las Vegas crime scene investigator unit (known colloquially as CSIs) embroiled in a brawl that left three with minor injuries and two half-drowned. While the details of what began the argument that ended in the fight remain somewhat obscured at the time of publication, this reporter has attempted to sketch a timeline of what led to the scuffle.
There appeared to be some friction between two separate CSI teams, one from the Las Vegas offices and a visiting team from New York City. Daniel Messer of the New York team accused Marisa Tang, formerly of the Las Vegas office, of poisoning a co-worker, Lindsay Monroe. Tang denied the accusation and retreated behind one Detective Don Flack, Jr. Messer proceeded to strike Flack, allegedly by accident. Whether by accident or not, Flack and Messer, both of whom tested above legal blood alcohol levels, began to fight, eventually landing in the MGM fountain. Messer’s superior, Mac Taylor, attempted to physically separate the two, only to become involved in the fight himself. Jessica Hoffenberg, another former member of the Las Vegas lab, attempted to call for help only to be dragged into the fountain.
Eventually, casino security broke up the fight, hauling damp, bruised CSIs out of the water. It quickly became evident as Tang and Hoffenberg shredded their badges, that that the evening effectively ended their employment at the LV crime lab. They have apparently secured positions at a crime lab division of the FBI. If the evening began with violence, it ended with romance. Both Tang and Hoffenberg managed to snatch kisses from Messer and Taylor, respectively, before making their exits post police questioning. Flack, Messer, and Taylor are currently being held in custody pending bail hearings. Further details will be published as they become available.
Greg sighed. Well, he should have known something was up when he’d found all Marisa’s stuff boxed up with forwarding labels attached a few days back. “Marisa’s gone, huh?” Greg asked Hodges.
“Yeah, Jess too, “ responded the tech. “Nick’s drowning his sorrow with the tea she left behind.” He thought for a moment. “Mandy will probably wait a couple weeks. Make her move once he’s back on coffee.”
“What is Grissom going to do about the lab vacancies,” Greg asked.
“I think the New York girl is going to fill in until Ecklie can fill those spots. Let me tell you, I don’t envy the background checks those new techs will have to go through.”
“Lindsay? Isn’t she a CSI?” Greg thought back on how hard he’d fought to get field-certified. “Why would she switch teams?”
Hodges smirked. “Check your other pocket.”
Greg reached back and pulled out another folded paper. “What’s this?”
Wendy smiled. “Double wedding.” Greg looked down and felt his stomach drop.
Gilbert R. Grissom and Lindsay Marie Monroe are hereby joined in holy matrimony this day…
At that moment, Sara walked into the break room. “Hey, guys,” she smiled. “What’s new?”
Greg stared at the certificate, at Wendy and Hodges, at Sara, and drained the rest of his lukewarm coffee in one gulp. He was going to need it.
We can never go back to Vegas. Not without federal protection of some kind or another.