CSI
Se Salva by happyharper13 [Reviews - 0]
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Title translates to 'Hidden Relationships'

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Salvar: to save, to overcome, to preserve, to rescue, to cover, to pass

Salvarse: to survive, to escape

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CHAPTER 9: LAS RELACIONES A ESCONDIDAS, Part 1


They sat in silence on the way home, but it was a comfortable silence. Warrick couldn't help but feel a little guilty. After all, Catherine was driving him home because he was too drunk to drive. But he knew she didn't mind in this case. His mission had been a righteous one.

Catherine broke the silence. "He's not getting any better. You know that, right?"

"Yeah. I caught onto that when he broke down crying halfway through Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell."

"Figured as much."

"The song?"

"And the crying."

"How's that?"

"Because you couldn't handle it. You sounded out of your mind. And, I mean, you're Warrick. Breaking down isn't exactly your thing."

Warrick chuckled. "Most of the time."

"I mean it. You're a rock."

"I thought Grissom was the rock."

Catherine only needed to ponder that for a second before responding. "No, Grissom's ice."

"And how is that?"

Catherine continued. "When temperatures change -- when something happens that irks Grissom for whatever reason --"

Warrick delivered a fake cough, mumbling, "Sara."

Catherine chuckled. "Exactly. When that happens, Grissom melts."

"He loses his cool!" Warrick laughed again, slightly louder than he would have were he not on the tipsy side. He probably wouldn't have said that at all, and certainly with as much enthusiasm, were it not for the alcohol surging slowly through his veins.

Catherine just chuckled again. "True. He really does. Nice pun, Warrick," she said, reaching across the seat to give him a high five.

"Thanks, Cath."

"Anyways, while Grissom melts -- becomes something else from the heat --"

"In all of his chemical change of state."

"Yep. You get it," she affirmed. "But rocks? Rocks don't melt."

"Unless the temperature gets really hot."

"True, but it takes a lot."

"Technically, anything can melt at some temperature, but it happens very rarely and could easily never happen in the lifetime of any given piece of an element or compound with a particularly high specific heat."

"You sound like Wendy. But you got it exactly. Just like, in the most extreme situation, even you could lose it."

"Like tonight?"

"Like tonight."

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Warrick hardly fidgeted to reach for the music. He had had enough for the night.

Catherine, clearly uneasy, finally broke the silence again.

"I... talked to Grissom."

Warrick looked up, patiently waiting for her to explain.

"Big news." Her tone betrayed that the news was by no means positive, and Warrick nodded, savoring the moments before whichever impending disaster struck with Catherine's next words.

"Greg's case got closed."

"Shit."

"My sentiments exactly."

"They found the guys?"

Catherine shook her head. A thin sliver of her bottom lip was clenched harshly in her teeth. The display of concern, unusual for Catherine, looked like it might be the only thing holding back tears.

"Shit," Warrick repeated. "Greg's body?"

She shook her head again.

"We've gotta tell Nicky."

She nodded.

"Do you want to drag along Mr. Icy?"

She choked back a strange laugh-dry-sob hybrid, relieved for the levity. "That might be a questionable tactic."

"Yeah."

Catherine pulled up outside Warrick's apartment.

Warrick opened the door, but was stopped by a question.

"You wanna go talk to him tomorrow?"

"Hmmm..." Warrick rolled the idea over.

"You're gonna have to stop by his house to get your car anyways."

"True. But speaking of cars --"

"Need a ride to work?"

"You read my mind."

"That's what I do."

"I thought that was what Greg did. He kept talkin' 'bout how his gramma was a psychic an' even swapped for a case at the psychic -- Oops. Forget I said that."

"No."

"No?"

"No."

Warrick looked at her questioningly.

"We can't just forget about him entirely," Catherine explained. "Don't you think he'd want to be remembered, and for all the wonderful things about him, not the way he died? It's not like we're going to forget that." She said the last sentence in a lowered, painful voice, which Warrick took as a sign to change the topic. He hadn't been there when Greg was killed.

"So," he broke her from her sorrowed train of thought.

"I'll pick you up at 7."

"Awesome. And we'll stop by Nicky's to talk to him after shift? Unless we can fit it in during shift, preferably towards the end."

"Sounds good."

"And that way I can get my car, too."

"Aw, you don't wanna keep me company some more?"

"I've always loved your company, Cath," Warrick said with a grin as he closed the door.

"But, like all of the XY persuasion, you love your car more."

Warrick chuckled, letting Catherine take his non-answer for an affirmation.

"See you tomorrow, bright and early!"

"Heh. Dark and early!"

"Gotta love night shift."

"Damn straight. See ya then."




THE CASINO
Catherine stared back at Ari.

"What sad circumstances to meet an old friend," she remarked, humorlessly.

He nodded, and she could see the pain in his eyes.

"Why? Why are you doing this, Ari?"

"For Tam."

She was shocked by the answer. "Since when do you have the right to kill in his name?! Wasn't killing him enough?!"

She knew the words were harsh, and not those generally helpful in a hostage situation, when spoken to the hostage holder that held her and her colleagues' lives in his hands.

At the same time, however, despite everything Ari had done, she still couldn't imagine him hurting a flea. Even though he'd killed Tam, his lover and best friend, she still couldn't reconcile the idea of the murder with the present situation and any leftover potential for violence. In her mind, he was still the man promising to protect and love Tam forever. He was still Ari.

He sighed sadly, again. "You don't know what you're talking about, Cath." His voice was pure resignation, and she didn't dispute his right to call her by her nickname.

"Why Greg?" she asked, this time more quietly. She could even, almost, see similarities between Ari's late boyfriend and her colleague now lying prostrate on the casino's dusty floor. They had the same light in their eyes -- the same youthful, optimistic twinkle of potential and innocence. Or at least they had had it.

Hurting Greg hardly seemed like the appropriate way to memorialize Tam.

Cath shuddered as she remembered the blood surrounding Tam that night. The blood all over Ari's hand... The blood splayed out over the corpse of her friend, in the newspaper pictures...

Ari turned away, as if reading the morbid memories replaying in her mind. But then he turned toward Greg and Nick. And Catherine recognized the handkerchief that Nick held over Greg's stab wound. The handkerchief was covered in blood -- fresh and long dried up and browned. And it had the initials: OTJ.

Ari was a ball of fire, exploding toward Greg and Nick -- especially toward the prostrate man, lying in the same pool of blood, on the same stretch of floor, holding the same bloodied handkerchief.

At that moment, she knew it wouldn't end well, but she hadn't quite realized how bad it would get -- what cruelty 25 years in prison made Ari Marvin capable of inflicting.

Catherine could see the crazy look in Ari's eyes as he turned around to face Greg, and it scared her. Greg groaned as he tried to shift up onto his elbows and backwards, away from the man, but it was clearly no use.

"Ari, stop!" Catherine yelled. Nick made a move toward Greg, as if trying to stand in Ari's way.

"Aw, Ari, we finally gonna get a piece of action out of this one? We're gonna hafta kill him anyways. He's gonna have one of our DNA or whatever on him after kickin' his ass. Might as well have some fun first."

Greg paled at the comment, and Catherine could see the same look echoed on Nick's terrified face.

Ari came closer, as Greg squirmed slowly backwards. Ari leaned over to run a hand down Greg's face. Greg whimpered. The hand settled on Greg's jaw before clenching around his neck. Greg gasped in shock and pain.

All of the sudden, Ari turned around to snarl at Catherine, finally releasing his hand on Greg's neck. "Take care of this!" Catherine could see the pain in his eyes. "Make sure we get out of here. Do whatever you need."

Catherine nodded in response. She could see it in his eyes. Prison, or maybe even Tam's death, had broken Ari. There was no telling what he was capable of now.

"Make sure we get out of here," he said, eyes still crazy. "Or he goes down with us," he added, pointing at Greg.

Catherine gulped, nodding in response. Greg looked back at both of them with terrified eyes.

"And make sure Mr. Jared gets down here also. It's either revenge against Mr. Jared..." He gestured at Greg again. "Or against this one."

Catherine nodded, shocked, and pulled out her phone. She knew Ari meant business, especially given the leers of his co-conspirators. It made her sick.

Ari gently helped her sit down, though she was still separated from Greg and Nick.

"And you can only call one person."

Catherine nodded.

There were only three people Catherine knew she could call. The obvious choice would have been Grissom. But then she remembered the distracted gaze covering his face for the past few months. Ever since Sara left, she thought sadly.

Brass would also be a good choice. Then again, Brass had a tendency of being too tough, and toughness was not what was needed in this case. Catherine knew, from personal experience, that that wouldn't help solve the problem, not when Ari was involved.

Warrick would have been the worst choice of the three. He had been off for a few months, much like Grissom. Nick seemed convinced that Warrick was more 'off,' but Catherine knew better. It wasn't that Warrick was more distracted. He was just worse at hiding it. Grissom, on the other hand, was a very guarded person. He rarely expressed emotions, let alone signs of his personal troubles. That the entire nightshift had figured out that something was wrong with Grissom was, in itself, a sign of just how far off his game the older man had fallen.

Rumors had been going around about the younger CSI for about as long as he'd been on the force. 'He's a gambler,' people said. 'He's an addict.' 'He's got too much goin' on with him.' The last one had been said by Jim Brass, and the former two by police officers. But Catherine couldn't help but remember back, many years, to the day that Ellie Brass had come around. Grissom had been out, with a case or sabbatical, Catherine couldn't remember which. Warrick had been the one to handle it. Warrick had told Catherine later that day, in shock, of Grissom's words.

"When I leave CSI, there won't be any cake in the break room. I'll just be gone. So I wanted to see if you could step in."

They had always assumed that the reason there wouldn't be cake when Grissom left would be that cake didn't seem as appropriate for funerals. Grissom's funeral would only work with chocolate-covered ants. And Grissom, as the whole team knew, would not leave the lab until death. It was a marriage of love, and Grissom, still at least part Catholic at heart, seemed to take 'til death do us part' very seriously. But, then again, Catherine thought, that was all before Sara, or at least before she became romantically involved with the supervisor.

Nonetheless, despite the troubles in Warrick's past, he had been Grissom's choice as 'takeover guy.' And Catherine could tell that, though Grissom hadn't left the lab, his heart wasn't really there anymore. Instead, it was in San Francisco, or wherever Sara was at the moment.

Catherine didn't just need someone who could stay calm in any situation. Grissom did put a lot of energy into keeping his cool, and could probably do the same if she called him. But she needed someone with a different kind of calmness, someone who could keep everyone else calm as well.

She reached for the appropriate button on speed dial.

"Cath?"

"Rick!" she edged out. A loud noise distracted her, and she looked over to see Biggs and Richie trying to handcuff Nick, who was putting up quite a fight. Finally, Biggs moved toward Greg. Nick stilled the moment he saw Biggs straddle a helpless, wounded Greg. Catherine gulped back her fear, hoping it was only a show.

Putting her hand over her cell phone, she murmured to Ari, "Please. Leave him alone."

"We'll leave him alone if you do your job."

Catherine nodded, feeling the pressure increase. Her shoulders drooped.

"Suspect returned to scene. Multiple suspects."

Ari reached for the cell phone, shutting it between his hands quickly.

Catherine looked up, puzzled. She had to explain to Warrick the situation either way. If she wanted the van to come, she'd have to explain what had happened.

"Sorry," Ari said coldly. "I can't have them tracing the signal to the exact room. You have a walkie-talkie?"

Catherine nodded, pulling it out.

Her fingers found the appropriate buttons on the walkie-talkie.

"Brown?"

"Warrick --"

"Cath! Are you alright?!"

She hesitated. "I'm fine. For now. Just... we need an escape vehicle."

"For who?"

"Them."

"I was afraid that would be your answer."

Catherine sighed, wincing at the pain it seemed to cause her wounded shoulder.

"You okay?"

Catherine took another deep breath. "For now... Bullet," she said, wincing again.

"Shit."

"Yeah.. My sentiments exactly."

She could hear Warrick chuckle on the other line. She could feel the soothing effect of his voice already.

"Can you... try to get it? The vehicle, I mean?"

"Yeah. I'll try."

A nudge to her uninjured shoulder drew her attention. Ari looked down, gaze unreadable. "Bruce Jared had better be in the car."

Catherine glared. "He already lost his son thanks to you, Ari."

Ari's cold poker face broke for a moment, revealing pure rage. "Mind your own business, Cath!" The words were vicious and loud, startling Catherine and the others in the room.

"F-fine," she muttered, waiting for her breathing to slow down. She picked up the walkie-talkie again. "Warrick?"

"Bruce Jared, owner of the Tangiers?" She could barely hear the incredulity he was obviously holding back.

"Yeah," she replied despondently, knowing the likelihood of that particular demand being met.

"I'll do my best."

"Thanks, Rick."

"No problem."

She knew 'no problem' didn't exactly summarize the situation, but it was so Warrick to say it anyways.

She set the walkie talkie down, and sat calmly, waiting for a resolution.

That was when Greg inched over to look at her. He reached for a hand with surprising strength.

She crawled over to the youngest CSI. Ari didn't seem to mind.

Greg motioned for Catherine's head and she leaned down. She could see the desperation in his eyes, and the pain in his voice.

"Promise you won't tell anyone."

She looked down, questioning.

"Please. No matter what happens. Don't tell anyone about us -- Nick and I. Especially not Warrick."

Catherine nodded.


PRESENT
Warrick watched Nick in the locker room; the Texan stared down at a case file even as he tied his shoes. So much for off the clock.
Nick had always been passionate about his cases. But he'd been able to put them down. What Warrick saw in front of him wasn't even passion. It was obsession. It was a distraction -- an angry burning kettle to stick on the front burner, in the hopes that it would whistle loud enough to drown out whatever it was Nick was trying to avoid.

Greg. It dawned on him. Where are you now, man? How'd you leave my best friend so crushed? He stared again at Nick, who was now on to the bottom of the next page in his case, his shoelaces largely neglected, with one only half-tied. What happened to you, man? What set them off so much? Where are you? Who are you?

Warrick never felt like he had known Greg that well, and he regretted it. He wished he could go back in time, to befriend the man more.

Then again, if he had, perhaps he would be as torn as Nick was now.

Catherine and Warrick were holding the team together as Nick dealt with his grief, and Grissom with his normal people problems, compounded by some form of heartbreak at Sara's departure.

And Warrick knew Catherine didn't have it all together. She had, after all, been there when Greg was killed. She had watched as Nick pleaded. She had been talking to Warrick with the walkie-talkie, trying to negotiate a deal through which they could all emerge unscathed.

And she had failed. They had both failed.

Warrick knew that failure had to be hitting Catherine hard, even as she focused on the two men falling apart around her. Warrick, he knew, was the most unscathed by the incident, and he was grateful for that. He had no idea what would have happened -- how far they all would have sunk -- if he hadn't been there to keep it all together.

He had, in fact, been on his own sinking ship for a while, with Tina and the divorce, and the pills.

After the incident, however, he had changed his tone. Tina stopped mattering. The pills that kept him awake, and the ones that got him to sleep, and the ones that kept him happy all became irrelevant.

His entire focus was on keeping the team together, and his own problems just stopped mattering.

He still, occasionally, took pills -- amphetamines. He had a feeling what he was doing might even be construed as abuse.

He knew he didn't need them to help him focus. He was already focused -- very focused. The team was his life after that incident, at least more so than before, and he didn't need a pill to remind him of that.

A phone call interrupted the moment of peace and thought -- a moment he felt very privileged to have at the rather hectic present. He got too few free moments these days.

He flicked his phone open. "Hi, Amy."

"Hi, Warrick. I can't make tonight," she said in a glum, yet nonchalant tone. He could almost hear her popping bubble gum in the background. "Have fun," she said, hanging up before Warrick even had a chance to reply.

"Wait -- what?" A dial tone responded to his confused query.

Glaring at his phone screen, he hung up. Well, that was weird. She sounded angry, like it was my fault, or like I should have expected it. He snapped his phone shut. And what did she mean by 'Have fun tonight'?

He shook his head, totally baffled by his girlfriend. This just isn't working. He contemplated calling her back and asking what she'd meant, or why exactly she was blowing him off this time, but refrained. He could find better ways to spend his night, or rather late afternoon, anyways.

"I hope he's the same again, someday."

He didn't need to turn around to acknowledge her. He continued to stare into the locker room as he replied to Catherine.

"He has to be. People get over stuff like this all the time. It just takes time. I don't know what it is that's makin' it so hard for him. I guess it's that he hasn't had to deal with death as much as a lot of people."

Catherine gave him a quizzical glance, even chuckling. "Because he's clearly never seen a dead body before?"

Warrick chuckled himself. "Okay, good point. But you know what I mean. Those are anonymous deaths, at least to us. And we see them after they're already dead. We don't have to deal with our best friends dying, let alone being there for it."

Catherine looked up at him, searching. "So you think Greg was Nick's best friend?"

Warrick looked down, slightly puzzled by the question. "I guess so... I mean, it seems like they've gotten pretty close in recent years, ya know?"

Catherine just nodded slightly. "Just wondering."

"I mean, they must have been best friends for Nick to take it so hard, right?"

"Yeah, definitely. They must have been best friends."

"Why?"

"Oh, just wondering." Catherine paused. "I mean, I'm tryin' to figure it out just like you are."

"Sure," Warrick nodded. There was so much figuring out to do with the man he had used to call a best friend. "There's a lot left to figure, I'd say."

Nick finally emerged from his files, as the clock ticked for the beginning of the next shift. Catherine and Warrick could hear his stomach growling, as if on cue. They both stifled laughs. Nick looked up, obliviously at first, before scowling at them.

"You two want somethin'?"

"Nah, you just sound hungry, man. When's the last time you ate?"

Nick shrugged his shoulders. In all their efforts to keep Nick going, Catherine and Warrick had paid less attention to his eating habits. They figured that a guy like him couldn't exactly forget to eat, but apparently they'd been wrong.

"Hey, Nicky," Catherine started. "How 'bout we take you out to eat?"

"Actually, I had a whole dinner planned out for Amy, before she cancelled. Why don't we just make it a group dinner?"

"That sounds nice, actually. Haven't had one of those in a long while." Like since Sara left and Greg died... "Okay," said Warrick sheepishly. "I'm just not so sure my apartment's in great shape for a big get-together."

"Not in shape for a team dinner, but in shape for a date? Do you not remember the three D's of working CSI?"

Warrick chuckled. "You underestimate me, Cath. Dead bodies, dumpsters and..." He jokingly scratched his head. "Decomp."

"Good work. You're better than I thought, Brown. Now do you really think we would be grossed out by your apartment?"

Warrick chuckled. "It's not that big. Hey, actually, if you wanna offer up your house as the spot -- it is closer to everyone -- then we have a deal. How 'bout that?"

"Sounds good," Catherine said with a grin. She turned around to find that the third participant in their conversation had already left. Nick was gathering his things in the locker room. "Hey, Nicky! We're headed over to my place. Got it?"

Nick shrugged apathetically. "Sure. Sounds fine, Mom."

Catherine rolled her eyes. "You wanna tell Grissom, or should I?"

Warrick grinned. "You volunteered your house, so I'll go tell the bug man."

"Be my guest. I'll go track down Wendy."
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