AU where Jake is a part of the team at CSI too. I had an idea that's mainly ship based, but I felt like having Det. Berkeley on the team would make sense. This is a Jake/Natalia, Eric/Natalia, HipHuggers & CaKe fic. Only one ship gets endgame though.. sorry! This is my first story that gives a little more insight into Jake as a main character. Of course, I'm in preference to EDeN/NED/DelVista, but I'm open to exploring non-Canon/crack ships.

Ever since Calleigh dumped him, Jake Berkeley had been looking for a breaking. A rebound. Someone that would give him a bit of a challenge like the way the ballistics expert had. But that was easy for him to say, they were in academy together. He'd known her longer than all her teammates, even Horatio, but still portrayed their relationship as if it were just him that brought things to a crash landing.

Jake couldn't compete with any of her other lovers. He was never good enough for her, though he was still yet to accept it completely. The realization still overwhelmed him. Berkeley needed something to value his status as a boyfriend. To show Calleigh that he could commit and was willing to put his all into a relationship now. No more undercover work, he swore to that.

His new target of romantic interest; DNA analyst (and Eric's ex-lover) Natalia Boa Vista.

Natalia hadn't even acknowledged his crush on her. Hence, why he had to take a shot and hope that she was lenient enough for him to 're-introduce himself in a much more professional, and less cop, kind of way. They were going to be working together on a regular basis anyways. He smoothly approached the DNA lab, startling a focused Natalia Boa Vista that was knee-deep in work to catch up on.

"Hi Natalia!" He said, observing the piles of envelopes, files and evidence boxes on top and around her desk.

Natalia briefly smiled as she looked up at him. "Hi Jake. What case do you need results for? I'm very busy right now, but I think I might have it here somewhere-" "Um, not here for results." Jake interrupted, cutting off her stress-induced ramble. Boa Vista switched her focus back to her work. "Alright.. well, what is it?"

"Are you seeing anyone at the moment?"

Honestly, that came across shallow. Jake became worried that he'd messed it up in the first normal conversation they'd had as.. well, colleagues. Natalia wasn't too sure what brought on this suddenly interest in her personal life. A lot of people had warned her about the kind of guy Berkeley could be.. Calleigh and Eric being included. Jake and Ryan had their own kind of disagreement with one another, something that didn't quite fit into the way Calleigh was talking about him. "No?"

"I know this is a little out of nowhere, but I'd love to get to know you better.. I was thinking drinks tonight?"

Natalia gave a nervous laugh. "Depends when I get off shift.. but I'll think about it. Text you later?

Jake nodded in agreement. "Sounds good."

Close enough! He punched the air, proud of his achievement, on his way out of her lab. Natalia put her pen down and sighed. She couldn't believe that she'd remotely even considered saying yes. Her friend's ex? That title was a danger zone in itself. The latina grabbed both necklaces she wore around her neck, clasping them in her hand as she mused about how long it would take before the rumors started flying around. 'Damn it, Nat.' She mentally scolded herself. This wouldn't end well..

"Did you hear the rumors?" The A/V technician, Dave, asked Ryan as he entered the break room with his arms stacked with files.

Wolfe tended to ignore the break room gossip. Admittedly, he had as much tendency to gossip as the total nerd he was back in his school days - zilch. Ryan simply shook his head, throwing away his empty coffee cup and turning to Dave, Cynthia Wells (QD analyst) and new analyst, Amy Corazon, who worked in Toxicology. "No. I have a meeting in half an hour, tell me later."

"So you know that Berkeley asked out Boa Vista?"

Although rushing, Ryan gave him the 'are-you-serious?' kind of look that came across as threatening in some situations. "No. I didn't know.. you know what," Wolfe took out his phone as it started to ring, "You might as well spread it. Everybody should know that Calleigh's ex is fetching after Eric's ex."

The lab technicians were unable to determine if Wolfe was being sarcastic or if he genuinely wanted word to get out. Rumors spread like the plague. From the lab all the way down to the precinct. Suddenly other units start wondering what the hell is going on upstairs in the crime lab. Somehow CSIs were always last to know, even if the rumor revolved around them.

As someone who had been at the butt end of the rumors, Ryan knew how much it sucked to have people stare and whisper every moment. He spent his high school days trying to stay in the shadows. But his love for music, writing, science and math really did make it hard to remain unknown. Ryan wanted someone who judged him like Jake to experience that kind of pain. Pain that makes you want to die on the inside.

Playing guitar, dancing and singing wasn't Ryan's go-to. He chose science for a reason. Because it meant that he'd be doing what he loved, and it would be for a purpose.

But the one person who'd have something to say was Eric. Without a doubt.

Jake and Eric seemed to end up in shit with the same women, which didn't exactly appeal to those who were desperate to even attempt getting into their pants. Natalia was a different story to the both of them.