CSIFO June 2012 Fan Fiction Challenge

(csiforeveronline dot wetpaint dot com)

Must use the following prompts in the story: La Perla; "Geez, that's not how I'm used to doing it!"; "You have got to be kidding me!"; "She taught me everything I know"; Latex; "Didn't you ever..."; French

Setting: Season 6, while Nicky was still sporting the "pornstache"! GSR distinctly possible, but we'll see.

Disclaimer: None of the characters or the concept of CSI is mine, I'm just playing with them a little.

AN: Yes, I will finish my other WIP, and sorry for making another one here, but life has not allowed me to finish pulling this one together (glares at Muse that insists on giving me ideas on very short notice until the deadline).

A Complete Drag

"You have got to be kidding me!"

All around the lab heads popped out of doorways and people froze in their tracks as they heard their supervisor's stentorian bellow roll through the hallways. The grimacing face of Conrad Ecklie was briefly visible before the door to Grissom's office closed, muffling whatever Sheriff Atwater was saying to try and placate the red-faced entomologist.

From the breakroom doorway, Catherine Willows glared at various lab techs until they resumed their duties before turning to share anxious looks with the reunited nightshift. "Well, either Gil is going to get himself another sheriff bestowed vacations and we'll find out from Ecklie what is going on, or he's going to come in here once he's done ripping Atwater a new one, and we'll find out what's going on. Until either of those happen, work on any open cases and paperwork you have and stay available in here ... I'll be in my office sorting tonight's cases and calling the various detectives to let them know we're delayed." Receiving nods from the four criminalists, the strawberry blonde shook her head worriedly and exited the room.

Making a production out of going through the folders he had brought to the table, Greg Sanders waited until he saw Catherine disappear into her office. "Man, what the hell? Have you ever seen Griss blow up that bad before? I mean, I've seen him pissed – back during the Zach Anderson case, and that time he knocked the coffee pot out of Ecklie's hand, but that?" the former lab tech waved his hand vaguely in the direction of their leader's office, while looking to his teammates for answers.

Sara Sidle, her dark gaze locked on the closed blinds of Grissom's office, as if she could, by sheer force of will, see what was happening inside, spoke up softly. "Rampler, the second victim of Milander, Griss nearly exploded in the interrogation room when he realized he'd been played ... and when Warrick and I had to investigate Tyner in that suspicious shooting ..."

"It's gotten pretty heated between Brass and Griss over the years ..." Warrick Brown added thoughtfully, leaning back in his chair. "And between Griss and I a few times ..."

"Not to mention Griss and Cath, especially right after Brass was moved back to PD," Nick Stokes added, rubbing his finger against the mustache he had grown during his recuperation over the summer months. "But that loud? Grissom usually get's pretty quiet and concentrated when he's mad."

Shaking their heads, all four looked with concern at the closed office before reluctantly diving into their paperwork, knowing there was nothing they could do but wait.

Meanwhile, In Grissom's Office ...

Sheriff Atwater held up his hands placatingly, attempting to soothe the irate man who was moving around the desk toward him. "Gil, just calm down a moment, and let me explain–"

"Explain? Explain! I think I grasped the concept the first time, Rory!" Grissom growled out, his hands flexing convulsively as he paced back and forth, attempting to bleed off some his fury. "My people are criminalists, investigators, dammit! They're not trained for undercover work – that's what the police department is for!"

"And if that over-eager rookie hadn't given a reporter a tour right past the room where the undercover squad were briefing for this very case, we wouldn't need to be looking outside the PD," Ecklie shot back, dropping the newspaper he'd been carrying on Grissom's desk – open to the pictorial spread identifying the "brave officers who risk all going undercover for Sin City."

The sheriff watched the nightshift supervisor stare at the exposé, at a loss for words. "And this came at the worst possible time, since that Charity Calender came out last week ... we don't have four experienced men to handle this operation, Gil."

Grissom blinked, recalling the calender that had included most of the men from the detective squads, and the fact that the proceeds for it were going to the PD widows and orphans fund. But then his eyes cut over to the assistant lab director and he opened his mouth ...

Before he could utter a word, however, Ecklie cut in. "Swing can't do it as they were featured in those media spots on child safety kits that have been running for the past month. And dayshift is tied up in court at the minimum for the next two weeks on several high profile cases – their faces have been all over the paper as well."

Blue eyes widening as the enormity of the situation that had descended on the LVPD struck him, Grissom silently mouthed several obscenities before sinking into his chair. "All right ... I cannot believe I'm agreeing to this ..." Pinching the bridge of his nose to fend off the headache he was sure he would have before this meeting was over, he vaguely waved at the two men to pull up chairs. "Fill me in."

Approximately Fifteen Minutes Later

Catherine was on her way back to the breakroom, a frown creasing her forehead, and her hands empty of case slips, when Atwater and Ecklie exited Grissom's office. She quickly adjusted her course, making a beeline for the open doorway when her pager went off. Muttering a curse, she snatched it up, only to see a message from Gil. My office, now. She had barely gotten two strides closer when she heard noise from behind her. Glancing back, she saw the rest of the nightshift hurrying in her direction. With a shrug at their questioning looks, she lead the way into the entomologist's lair.

As the team piled into the office, Grissom looked up, his eyes meeting each member of his team briefly. "Better close the door, Nick, and everyone take a seat." His blue gaze flicked over to a worried brunette and she relaxed minutely as he silently told her he was fine. Then he turned his attention to his co-supervisor. "No, I'm not taking a 'vacation' again, Catherine. And no," he turned to the men, "nothing is happening to the make-up of the team. But I do have a case to inform you about, and I doubt you'll be any happier than I am about it."

Taking a deep breath as everyone got settled, Grissom steepled his hands and looked around at his team. "It seems we have been chosen, by default of their not being anyone else available in the entire LVPD, to take on an undercover mission." Before any of them could draw breath to question or object, he continued. "Believe me, I argued quite vehemently against this, but I have to agree with the sheriff that this cannot wait until officers that did not have their images plastered over a newspaper spread," he paused a moment to hand the paper in question around, "or that did not pose in the latest LVPD Charity Calendar can be found and brought in." He nodded solemnly at the looks of shock on his team's faces. "A series of brutal beating attacks have occurred to patrons of the French Palace over the past month, with the attack last week ending in the death of the victim. It was only after the latest attack that the prior victims came forward to report their experiences. Apparently the victims were drugged, taken to an unknown location where they were severely beaten before a mask was made of their faces using liquid latex. Whether it was an escalation or an accident, the last victim drowned when the latex went into their lungs."

Grissom gave them all a moment to absorb the facts of the case before he continued. "Catherine and Sara, you will be handling communications and be ready to back us up with the help of Brass and those police officers he is choosing for the task force. The rest of us will be the ones going undercover."

This time he couldn't head off the interruptions that came from both of the women, though the firey redhead overroad the irate brunette to be heard first. "What the hell are you trying to do, Gil? 'Protect' the fairer sex? Sara and I are perfectly capable of handling an undercover operation as well as any of you guys, probably better since it's at the French Palace!"

"Not in this particular situation, Catherine," he replied quellingly. When he was sure she was going to hear him out, he glanced over at the equally fuming Sara. "Believe me, I know full well that under normal circumstances that it would seem to make more sense to send you two ladies in as the undercover agents ... but the victims were not the performers but members of the audience. And all the attacks happened on Wednesday night." At Catherine's gasp of surprise, he nodded his head wearily. "And that is why you two cannot be the 'bait' in this case."

The rest of the team looked on in confusion as the strawberry blonde began to giggle uncontrollably as she stared first at Grissom, then at the other three men in the room. "Oh ... my ... god ..." she managed to gasp out before covering her mouth in disbelief.

"Would someone please explain to me what is going on?" the brunette finally burst out, not understanding the reaction of her co-worker, nor the faint blush that was climbing up her secret lover's neck.

Grissom scrubbed his face with his hand, before answering with a heavy sigh, "The French Palace is normally a strip club. But on Wednesday night's they host a ... special revue. While there might be a few women in the audience, they are something of a rarity and tend to stand out more than would be practical for an undercover operation." Hoping that his hearing would survive the outburst he was sure was about to follow, the entomologist gave them the final bit of news. "The Wednesday night revue is–"

"A drag show!" Catherine burst out almost gleefully, her laughter in full force at the aghast looks on the faces of the three younger men.