.................................Salvar: to save, to overcome, to preserve, to rescue, to cover, to passSalvarse: to survive, to escape|
CHAPTER 11: LAS RELACIONES A ESCONDIDAS, PART 2
Warrick set down the walkie talkie and let loose a frustrated growl. It wasn't that he didn't know what to do. It was that, technically, there was nothing he could do. Negotiating with hostage takers was, as they'd learned in Nick's coffin debacle, strictly banned by LVPD protocol.
Sitting in Grissom's office -- Grissom had been MIA all day -- Warrick put his feet up on the desk and stared up at the ceiling. But he knew it held no answers.
He closed his eyes and took another deep breath. He reached for his walkie talkie again.
Catherine answered quickly.
"What kind of vehicle?"
"Um... not sure." He could hear her point the question to someone else, no doubt one of the robbers.
"Something big. Less hard to spot on the road."
"So a popular SUV works?"
She seemed to get where he was going with the question.
Warrick shook his head, trying to find the right thing to say to calm the situation. He could only think of one thing, though he couldn't help but doubt the accuracy of the hypothetical assertion. Nonetheless, weighing the fear that was, no doubt, pounding through Catherine's mind, he said it anyways. "I'll find it."
The SUV, he knew, would be the easy part. Negotiating with Bruce Jared, casino magnate, to sit down in an SUV filled with bank robbers and murderers -- probably not so easy.
Nonetheless, he reached for his keys, grateful that, after enough cases at the Tangiers, Rampart and other establishments formerly owned by Sam Braun -- now owned by Bruce Jared -- he had the location of casino's headquarters memorized.
"Yeah?" Warrick looked up from the food he was helping place in Tupperware containers.
"We need to talk to Nick."
"My sentiments exactly."
"I'm guessing he wasn't quite ready to handle the news when you broke it to him about the locker?"
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.
He chuckled sadly. "And I thought cooking would be the hard part."
She let out a grin, though her mouth was still clenched in frustration with the impending, but necessary task.
Fortunately, Wendy, who looked particularly exhausted after pulling so many shifts as both a CSI-in-training and a lab tech, had left quickly after dinner, helping Catherine bring in dishes and then sneaking out with quick goodbyes to all visible team members.
Grissom's location was a mystery, although Catherine had seen him pull out his phone. Warrick and Catherine both knew that Grissom had the discretion to avoid the conversation and would, if necessary, sneak out of the house or into another room to stay out of their way until it was over.
Warrick forced a smile as well, clearing his chest and pushing a foot forward. "Well." He looked up, seeking her affirmation. "No time like the present."
Catherine nodded as they headed out to the living room, where she had instructed Nick to wait.
BRUCE JARED'S OFFICEThe drive over to Mr. Jared's office was a blur.
Finally, Warrick found himself looking down at the information table.
"Tangiers. How may I help you?" A skinny young man with short red hair barely looked up from his computer to greet Warrick -- if it could even be called a greeting.
The kid barely looked old enough to be in a casino, let alone working for one. His voice exuded boredom. From the pace of clicks and taps on the keyboard, Warrick would comfortably wager that the receptionist was in the middle of some game; since they were, after all, in Vegas, it was probably internet poker of some sort. Given the apathetic tone, Warrick wasn't optimistic about the kid's inclination for helping Warrick as quickly as possible.
Hopefully, he thought, sounding official and urgent would get the job done.
"Hi. I'm with LVPD working on the Tangiers investigation. I need to speak to Mr. Jared, immediately."
"Um..." The man shot a brief, concerned look at the computer before turning down to face his desk, clearly in thought.
Thinking the man might need an extra push, Warrick added, "Any delay could cost the investigation and even count as interfering with an investigation --"
'Interfering with an investigation' probably wasn't the most accurate term. If the receptionist -- or whoever it was that worked the Tangiers information booth -- had taken a while to find Mr. Jared, it wouldn't exactly have constituted a crime. It would just be an interference. Fudging the truth, Warrick thought. Brass would certainly understand. Sometimes -- not often, but sometimes -- the ignorance of the general Vegas population could be quite useful.
The kid reached for the phone in front of him as his eyes darted around the room, looking at Warrick briefly. He hung up the receiver and motioned for someone standing further behind Warrick, off in another room to the left. "Mr. Martino! Police guy wants to talk to you!"
Warrick sighed, trying not to roll his eyes at being called 'Police guy.' The first thing people noticed about Warrick, other than his impossible turquoise eyes, was his skin color and big, burly build. When they heard LVPD, or, often, even 'working for the city,' they just assumed his vocation consisted of shoot-outs and beating and/or intimidating confessions out of druggies and suspects. But he was a scientist before he was a police officer.
A slim man moved quickly toward the counter. He was clearly a somebody in the casino. He was dressed crisply and professionally, with full, dark hair combed neatly across his head, though not in a comb over, but barely venturing to touch the clear, deep olive skin. "Hi. I'm Rex Martino, Mr. Jared's assistant," he said, reaching out a hand. Warrick noted the strong handshake. This is a man of confidence and efficiency.
"Warrick Brown, crime lab."
Mr. Martino nodded. "Your team is investigating the murder at the Tangiers." It was more of a statement than a question.
"My team was investigating it."
"Was?" Mr. Martino wrinkled his thick brows. He began to speak but was interrupted by Warrick.
"The robbers came back."
Mr. Martino looked Warrick in the eye, searching for the rest of the story. He kept a good poker face, but Warrick could see the anxiety belied in the calm expression.
"The perps came back and took my team hostage. We have three men -- err, three officers -- two men and one woman down there." He added quietly, "The perps threatened to hurt them."
Mr. Martino pursed his lip, reaching up a hand to rub his chin; he was clearly lost in thought. "This certainly complicates matters."
"What do they want? Money?" Warrick could see the anxiety growing in the man's voice, even as his face hid it well.
"I think they already found the money."
"How?" Mr. Martino looked thoroughly baffled, but waved it off. "Never mind. Um..."
"I need to speak to Mr. Jared, right away."
Mr. Martino nodded. "I'll go find him. Follow me."
Warrick heaved a sigh of relief, knowing he was one step closer to the goal that had, minutes ago, seemed insurmountable. It still seemed insurmountable, of course, to get Mr. Jared to go along with the plan -- to jump in the escape vehicle of four crazy robbers with who-knew-what on their minds. Nonetheless, Warrick reminded himself. This is one step closer. One step closer to bringing them all back, safe and sound. One step closer to quashing the fear in Catherine's voice.
Mr. Martino's walk was brisk and Warrick was surprised to find himself struggling to keep up with the petite man. Guess I'm getting older than I thought, he thought with a shake of the head as he followed Mr. Martino, weaving between people and offices. He was surprised by the sheer size of the office.
Mr. Martino knocked at the door, hand steady. "Mr. Jared!"
A moment passed, and Warrick thought he could hear someone on the phone behind the door.
"Bruce!" Mr. Martino yelled again.
"Come in, Rex." The voice from behind the door was smooth and patient, surprising for a man of such power and responsibility.
Rex opened the door before leaning in to whisper into the ear of the man at the desk.
The man, turning around to face Warrick, nodded. "Thanks, Rex. I'll take care of it."
The door closed and Warrick got a good look at the man in front of him. His face was aged, but gentle, and it surprised Warrick, once again, that such a man could grow into the role of one of Vegas's premier tycoons. Wispy grey hair was combed over his balding head, and slight grey eyebrows were barely visible above large, open eyes. The title at the desk confirmed that this was indeed Bruce Jared.
"Rex has informed me of the entire situation."
Warrick looked up, perplexed that Mr. Martino had even had the time to give all of the information in a second's worth of whispering.
Mr. Jared, as if in response, tapped a cell phone. "He informed me on the way over."
Warrick nodded, knowing he hadn't been able to keep track of Mr. Martino half the time as he followed the man into the office.
"One of the best assistants I've ever had, Rex is. Very efficient," Mr. Jared added as he edged his chair closer to the desk, and to Warrick.
Warrick nodded. "Ah --"
"Yes, yes," Mr. Jared smiled at Warrick -- gravely but reassuringly. "Let's get right to business. So, what is it that they want?" His voice remained sublimely calm and gentle. Warrick couldn't help thinking that he must have made a terrific poker player at one point in time.
"Ah, at this point?"
"Rex mentioned that they probably already had some money?"
"Yes. Something to that effect. But, Mr. Jared..." Warrick felt the sudden need to rush, even in the slower pace of Mr. Jared's southern hospitality and grace. "That's not what they want. And they're going to hurt my friends -- the investigators down there -- if you don't go to the scene."
Mr. Jared raised an eyebrow, which Warrick suspected conveyed all the more on such a poker face. "Me?"
"Yes. I don't know why. I'm not really sure what the deal is --"
"Mr. Brown," Mr. Jared replied, clearly picking Warrick's name off of the CSI vest. "We don't negotiate with terrorists. I'm sorry. I really am. They ask for my cooperation now, but next thing you know, it'll be the entire casino."
"Mr. Jared, with all due respect, they couldn't handle everyone at your casino. There's only four of them."
"Mr. Brown." Mr. Jared leaned forward again. "Don't doubt the abilities of four men to handle a hell of a lot."
Warrick leaned forward as well, meeting Mr. Jared's eyes. "Right now I'm only concerned about their abilities to handle my friends and teammates."
"Mr. Brown --"
"Call me Warrick."
"Warrick, I... I don't know what to say. I'm sorry about the situation. I really am. But I can't just go out every time a bunch of terrorists or robbers or murderers makes that sort of threat. Giving in only encourages them, and others like them. The more we give in, the more they'll ask for, or the more other robbers will ask for."
"But they're only asking for you. Seriously, what could they want?"
"Well, I'd imagine they want the correct combinations to open one of our various deposits. I'm the only one who knows all of the combinations at present. Their asking for my help is no different than them asking for all of the casino's money. And if we gave that to them, they'd just as easily drive every one of my employees out of a job. Given the number of casinos under my direction, they could easily bankrupt half of the major casinos in this city. Surely you see that this is no light matter, Mr. Brown. It's a question of the entire Las Vegas economy, of present and future."
Warrick grit his teeth, seeing the man's logic. "Well, you wouldn't have to give them the information."
Mr. Jared bristled at the comment. "They'd get it out of me, one way or another. Threaten the hostages some more, threaten me."
"I really am sorry, Mr. Br-- Warrick. I really am. In the words of a great hero, 'With great power comes great responsibility.' It may be clichéd, but it's true. I'm responsible for everyone who chooses to make their living, or even those who choose to spend their living here. I'm sorry. But my hands are tied."
Warrick didn't know how to respond, but to grit his teeth again. With Mr. Jared's hands tied, his were too.
"Mr. Jared --"
"Call me Bruce."
"Okay, Bruce. Would you give me a minute?"
Warrick slipped out of the room and pulled out his walkie-talkie.
"Rick?!" He could hear the fear and franticness in Catherine's voice.
"I just talked to Mr. Jared. No go."
He could hear a commotion on the other end, as Catherine no doubt broke the news to everyone else hidden in whichever back room of the casino.
A new voice broke through the static, this one cold, male and melancholy, with a frightening hint of rage. "Put Mr. Jared on. Please." It was unmistakably an order, not a request.
Warrick handed the phone to Mr. Jared and watched as the man's face grew white. He shooed Warrick out of the room and Warrick obliged.
Catherine was relieved when the conversation ended. Nick had taken it stoically -- almost too stoically. He was uncontrollable, and she was grateful for the opportunity for control that was hidden under her bed. Finally alone in her house, aside from her sleeping daughter, she made her way back to her room, to reflect on the dinner and the case that would, hopefully, ease her team's tension.
The conversation had been followed by an awkward silence, which Nick quickly broke, announcing that he had a hard case and had to be up early for the next shift. Grissom, sure enough, had left immediately afterwards, with a gentle goodbye to Warrick and Catherine, as well as a sincere thank you for the news they broke to Nick. Warrick had followed quickly out the door.
Upon reaching her bedroom, however, Catherine was beckoned by the soft pillows and comforters. She had been working too much lately, and sleep was too inviting and precious a commodity. But Nick... he needs closure, and he needs it now, she thought. Then again, she realized, at the rate she was going, working the case as a solo during the limited time that she had off, who knew when it would actually be solved.
She groaned, knowing what she had to do, and reached down for the box.
Minutes later, the gentle swoosh of the front door again interrupted her from the task at hand. Peering out, she saw Warrick, heading toward the kitchen. Staring back at the box with fatigue, she chuckled and followed Warrick.
He turned around, looking not quite startled but not quite expectant either. "Aw man. Did I wake you up?" he asked with a grimace.
She chuckled, looking down meaningfully at her jeans and blouse. Her night's culinary feats was still barely visible. Specks of olive oil dotted a sleeve, clear evidence from the "crime," as Warrick had called it, of sneaking a green bean off the hot skillet.
"Well, sorry," he said, laughing. "I forgot ladies of class never conk out fully dressed after a long day's work. I guess it's just lazy bachelors like me."
She laughed back. "Well, lazy bachelors habits aside, I'm assuming that you didn't plan on conking out, after a long day's work, in my kitchen. What brings you back here, Mr. Brown?"
Catherine tried -- and failed -- to stifle a laugh. "Mashed potatoes over sleep?"
"Did you try those mashed potatoes?! If you did, I think you'd see that there's no comparison."
"Okay," she said, still laughing. "I'll give you that."
"More specifically," he explained, "I promised Amy I'd save her some. So she can have a part of the romantic dinner I had planned."
"Oh, Warrick. What a gentleman." She rolled her eyes. "You couldn't just order out?"
"Hey now. We'd agreed that I could take some of the food home afterwards. Specifically, you asked me to because you said you and Lindsey couldn't go through all of the leftovers and you didn't want it to go bad."
Catherine chuckled. "Very true."
"So, what's keeping you out of bed?"
She looked guiltily to the side, giving herself away immediately.
Warrick laughed. "Judging by the guilty expression, I'm gonna go with porn?"
Catherine raised her eyebrows in mock-offended shock. "Hey!"
"Just kiddin' with you, Cath."
She turned to look at him smugly. "This is Vegas, Warrick. If I want porn, do you really think I would risk downloading it and watching it at home? That's what 'Boys Down Under' is for."
Warrick choked back a surprised laugh at the Australian porn show that made its home in Vegas.
Catherine followed Warrick's stare to the clock in her kitchen. Ugh, it's getting late. And I still have to work on that case. Ugh. Wait.
"Actually," Catherine said, turning serious. "I'm working on a case."
"I thought you never work on cases at home."
"It's not a case for the Lab."
He looked back at her, puzzled, waiting for an explanation.
"Ari Marvin's case."
"Wait -- what... I thought that was closed. I mean..."
"Not the case. Not Greg's case. Ari Marvin's original case. The one he was convicted of. In 1985. Tam Jared."
Warrick furrowed his brows, clearly of many emotions at the news of Catherine's new case.
Catherine began, calmly but quietly, with, paradoxically, both resoluteness and trepidation. "We can't find closure for Greg. We can't find his body. But we can at least find out why. Why they came, and robbed... Why they killed him."
Warrick pursed his lips, finally looking up to stare at Catherine. It was a look of affirmation.
"What do you need help with?"