Inconvenient Anomalies in the Data
Title: Inconvenient Anomalies in the Data
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine, the worlds are not.
Summary: CSI/B:tVS. Greg meets a beautiful blonde, and conspires to cover up a crime. 1600 words.
Spoilers: General for CSI (Las Vegas); B:tVS post-"Chosen" (7.22); A:tS "The House Always Wins" (4.03) and "Not Fade Away" (5.22).
Notes: For emony2, who requested "CSI/B:tVS, Buffy/Greg, ham". Also kind of a sequel to my earlier ficlet, "The Evidence Never Lies." (I don't pretend to know anything about the Tropicana or real CSI procedure; feel free to let me know about any errors you find in the story).
The scene at the Tropicana was still pretty chaotic when Greg arrived. The murder attempt had taken place in a crowded auditorium, which meant that no one had seen who did it, any evidence left behind might already have been contaminated, and the perpetrator had probably managed to escape unnoticed in the crush. Still, the CSIs had a job to do, and you never knew what tiny clue might break a case wide open.
The cops were already questioning witnesses as he passed through; he caught sight of Sophia's blonde mane in the crowd, and the frown on the detective's face as she spoke with another, shorter blonde and a man in serious green make-up with little horns glued to his forehead. The man had to be the injured performer; the billboards outside had been flashing "Lorne: The Green Velvet Fog is Back" for the past several weeks, and from all Greg had heard he'd apparently been pretty popular. The girl with him wasn't showing enough skin to have been a part of his act, but she held a wad of gauze to his forehead and shook her head at Sophia. Girlfriend maybe? Something seemed familiar about her, but Greg couldn't place it. He worried on it for a minute, then shook his head to clear the cobwebs and headed for the auditorium.
Warrick was already checking the area where the angle of fire suggested the shooter had been seated; he sent Greg forward to recover evidence from the stage. The bullet that had caused the whole mess wasn't too difficult to find, though it didn't resemble any bullet he'd ever recovered before; at a rough guess, it seemed to have been made from a non-standard alloy for a non-standard gun. Also, strangely enough, the bloodstains on it didn't exactly look like *blood*, either. He picked the bullet out of the woodwork, dropped it into an evidence bag, then knelt on the stage to photograph and test a couple of scattered drops apparently of the same organic liquid.
A moment later, Greg stared at the stubbornly not-pink little cotton swab in his hands, wondering if the phenolphthalein solution he carried might have gone off. What other logical explanation could there be? It was hardly possible that Lorne Green, no matter what he preferred to disguise himself as, didn't have actual blood in his veins, was it? He flashed back on the scene outside, picturing the man in his minds-eye again... then froze.
Green make-up, glued on horns, yeah *right*. And *that* was why the blonde with him looked so familiar! Greg would have slapped himself for his stupidity, if he hadn't been wearing gloves. Of course he'd seen her before; she'd shown up at the lab back when they'd been investigating the death of a Wolfram and Hart lawyer, to talk them into letting Illyria Burkle walk for the crime. Catherine's predictions about federal interference had been off, but the one about the British guy feeding them improbable bullshit had been right on the money; a guy named Rupert Giles had done most of the talking for her. Only the fact that Grissom and Catherine had already been involved in the supernatural had kept the pair of demon-hunters from getting dragged out by the cops.
In the end, despite being presented with a weight of evidence suggesting the lawyer hadn't been what he seemed, Grissom still hadn't agreed to lie about what they'd found. He had, however, agreed not to pursue it if the perpetrator disappeared through other means-- and the next night, Miss Burkle had vanished from her holding cell. The fact that she apparently could have broken out at any time before that had added weight to the Slayer's tale.
The team had never expected to see demons in Vegas again, though, especially out in the open like this. It would only take one being discovered publicly, in some way Miss Summers' scarily competent friends couldn't cover up, for panic to hit, and then the demons' comfy days of preying on unsuspecting victims would be over. Surely they wouldn't want that. Unless this Lorne was the kind that didn't prey on people? Possible, Greg considered, especially since Miss Summers was out there with him. And if so, what better cover than as a stage performer?
Someone else had obviously figured it out, though, Greg thought warily, and glanced back over his shoulder. Warrick wasn't looking in his direction; neither were any cops. Hastily, he turned back to the stage and collected as much of the "blood" as he could see, capping the swabs he used properly in their little specimen tubes, then bagged the microphone and the glass Lorne had been using and gathered up the rest of his evidence kit.
He managed to sneak out of the theater while Warrick was bent over tweezing something up from a seat cushion, then made his way to where he'd last seen Sophia with the Slayer and the demon. Lorne was the only one still there, waving off the first aid personnel trying to treat him and demanding a Seabreeze; Greg walked right by him, trying not to stare too obviously at the first non-threatening example of demonic life he'd ever seen, and did a visual scan of as much of the casino as he could see. Hopefully, Miss Summers hadn't left the Tropicana entirely.
His hands had begun to sweat by the time he finally spotted her, chatting on a cell phone over by the nearest exit. The gravity of what he was doing had begun to register; he knew what the consequences were if he got caught messing with evidence or covering up a crime. The Burkle case had been trouble enough for the team, but at least that time, all their evidence had been circumstantial, and redirecting attention from the cooling case had been easy; this was different. He *had* to talk to her.
Greg really wished he dared ask Grissom for advice, but there wasn't time. He took a deep breath, then headed toward the Slayer, wearing a determined expression.
Or, more properly, headed *past* her. He didn't want to be caught in obviously suspicious behavior by the cameras in the casino. As he passed the woman, heading outside, he murmured quietly: "I know who you are. Find me outside."
Nervousness churned in his gut as he continued out, walking to his car. Was this really worth it? he asked himself, as he spotted the lithe form of the Slayer propped up against the driver's side door of his ride. He allowed himself a moment to just be a guy, appreciating the slim, leather-clad legs and the toned, tanned arms emerging from her clinging white blouse. Then he cleared his throat and spoke.
"Hi," he said, loud enough to carry over the several yards still between them. "I have evidence here that your friend isn't human. I don't know if Grissom will agree to paper everything over like last time, but even if you mug me for it, you're going to have to get Lorne away from here immediately."
"Excuse me?" She stepped away from the car, a puzzled frown marring her attractive features.
"You probably don't remember me-- I didn't say much last time you were here-- but I know you remember Grissom's speech about impeding justice," he replied. He slowed as he approached the car, and held his hands up in a non-threatening gesture. "I thought it might be better to let you know ahead of time, this time, while we can still pass it off as contaminated evidence. Get your friend out of here so there's nothing to compare it to, and I'll make sure the investigation dead-ends."
"Hunh," she said, giving him a visible once-over as she took another step away from the car. "So not what I was expecting when you said you knew who I was." She thought a moment, frowning, then nodded. "I was planning on getting Lorne away from here anyway; I was only in town to ask him some questions about some mutual friends of ours, and it looks like someone else doesn't want them answered. You can tell your team he won't be back, and he wouldn't be pressing any charges even if you did find the shooter."
"Thank you," Greg said, his shoulders sagging with relief. "This is the second best lab in the country; they won't just ignore inconvenient anomalies in the data unless there's a really good reason not to pursue them, and I didn't think it would be a good idea if the truth went public."
"We could have dealt with it," she said, smiling, "but it would have been a lot messier."
He took that for a thanks, and let his hands drop, grinning as he prepared to press his luck. "You're welcome. Hey, maybe next time you're in town we could just do lunch instead. I make a mean grilled-cheese and ham sandwich?"
She laughed good-humoredly. "I'll think about it," she said, and walked away.
Greg watched her go, mesmerized, then sighed. "She didn't even ask my name," he said bemusedly as she disappeared from view.
"Who didn't ask your name?" another, familiar voice asked from immediately behind him.
Greg jumped, then turned, heart racing, to face his co-worker. "Warrick!" he said. "Don't sneak up on me like that."
Warrick frowned. "Where you been? I thought you were still collecting evidence, but when I looked up you were gone."
Greg shook his head. "I've got to get this to Grissom. But later? Man, have I got a story for you."