Author: Jinni (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Genre: BtVS/CSI Crossover.
Disclaimer: All copyrights remain firmly in the hands of their individual copyright holders – which are not me.
Distribution: WLS, WLF, NHA, BMP, TtH, TQC, Aislin.
Author’s Note: The Quickie Challenge: http://www.peoplefirst.com - I know this pairing isn’t on there – but it will be with the next update.
She looked so fragile, standing there over the victim’s body, arms crossed over her chest. The air was cold and her breaths came in little puffs of cloudy air from her mouth. If she was cold she didn’t say it, always the trooper, as she had been from day one.
The day she had started stealing his heart.
“Tell me what you see,” he asked quietly, waiting for her opinion of the body, the scene – of everything that there was to see and hear, taste and feel.
“Caucasian. Male. Gunshot to the left temple. . . lack of blood in surrounding area seems to indicate that he wasn’t killed here. Dumped, most likely.”
Nick nodded, gesturing for her to go on. She was good, he had to give her that.
“The tracks leading away from the body would indicate a larger truck – one of the kinds with two wheels instead of the normal one. They’re already been photographed and measured, right? The first good breeze could move the sand. . .”
“Done before you got here, Will. Anything else?”
The red head looked at the body, the area – then back to the body.
“He’s wearing club clothes. In the middle of the desert. He was either going somewhere or coming from somewhere. Hard to say. It’s still early. Most of the clubs are still open, ready for action.”
“Good job.” Nick smiled, clapping her lightly on the shoulder. She was the best junior CSI agent he’d come across in his years on staff.
Aside from, well, *him* of course.
He had doubted Grissom’s sanity when he was first told that he would be mentoring the woman, fresh out of college with a degree in forensics. Pair her with Sarah, he had insisted; only to be met with resistance.
But she had surprised him, proving immune to the charm he threw off without even realizing it most of the time. It didn’t phase her in the slightest, barely drawing a whisper of a smile at times.
And perhaps that was what intrigued him more than anything. Her aloofness, the way she held herself apart from everyone else, refusing to get close to anyone.
Except. . . Grissom. She was quite friendly with the night time director of CSI. They would speak, sometimes for hours when work was light, about scientific things that he couldn’t even begin to fathom. She was a fan of both the latest technology as well as the older ways of deciphering clues. Anything and everything was within her arsenal, and Grissom appreciated that. He commended her for it. She opened up to him and him alone.
Certainly not to Nick, though. Or Warrick. Or Sarah, though she did occasionally smile and joke with the other woman. Even Cat though she was a mystery.
Nick sighed, gesturing for the coroner to go ahead and bag up the body. Thinking of all the ways she had never warmed up to him was getting him no where and they had another scene to go to.
Willow watched Nick out of the corner of her eye, admiring the way he maneuvered in and out of busy Vegas traffic. He was an enigma to her – flirty at time, resigned at others. He hadn’t wanted her as his partner, she knew that much for sure – Grissom had admitted it during one of their longer conversations on why she had come to work for the Vegas crime lab.
Grissom knew what the others did not. She had left her home town, Sunnydale, after an attack left her best friends dead. It wasn’t a demon attack, which would have been easier in some ways to understand. No, this was random violence. A would-be mugger turned murderer when Xander wouldn’t hand over his wallet. She had been at home, waiting for them to come over with ice cream for a movie night.
It had happened only blocks from her house and she had heard the gunshots ringing out in the otherwise quiet streets, as she sat on her front porch looking up at the stars.
She had left after that, taking up forensics as a way to avenge them through helping bring the killers of others to justice. Magic played little part in what she did now. It hadn’t been enough to save Buffy or Xander – what use was there for it in the end?
Grissom knew all this and understood, cautioning her only to never let her emotions get in the way of her objectivity.
Which she wouldn’t.
And things were good – aside from her on-again, off-again not-so-cuddly partner.
He was a great guy and one hell of a CSI agent; she was learning a lot from him.
But what was up with this attitude? First he doesn’t want her to be his partner. Then he’s friendly, almost charming – and now back to the silence. She felt at times like she would never be able to do anything right by him.
But maybe. . .
Couldn’t be *her* fault, could it?
She gave a mental sigh.
It was possible, she conceded silently, that she had been a little colder than she had intended. Sarah had commented on it more than once, and Willow had brushed it off as nothing more than a ‘bad day’ those times.
But maybe. . .
She sighed, this time out loud, and turned her head to look out the window, the bright lights of the casinos slowly fading by until they were on the far end of the strip, past the Stratosphere. They pulled up in front of a little motel, the kind that families on budgets might would stay at. It wasn’t a family they were here to see, though. This was a single, Asian female. A prostitute, most likely. Found dead in one of the rooms by the manager when one of the other guests complained of a smell coming from the room.
A week-old dead body, complete with smells and rotting flesh. The air conditioner in the room wasn’t even enough to put a dent in the heat during the day.
Nick had almost asked what was wrong when she sighed.
By the time he thought it was a completely good idea and worthy of his time, she was out of the car and headed towards the crime scene, already pulling a pair of latex gloves from her pocket with one hand while carrying her kit with the other.
He followed along behind her, watching with a critical eye as she took her first, preliminary look at the scene. She was slow, methodical. Never missed a beat. Scientific poetry in motion. If asked, he would readily say that he was proud of how she was turning out. She would be ready to be primary on some scenes in the very near future.
The room was ripe with the stench of the decaying body. Even with the door open, the rank air escaping to pollute the motel’s shabby little courtyard, the room was still foul.
Willow didn’t bat an eye.
She didn’t care that the room smelled awful, though her little nose would wrinkle every now and then in distaste.
“Are you okay?”
It left his mouth before he could stop it. A question that was completely unprovoked. Why now? Why not in the car when she had sighed so sadly?
Ah. Confusion. Always a great thing to see in a woman’s eyes.
“You seemed sad back in the car. . .”
He watched her close up, the shields she had erected to keep her emotions away from the outside world coming up silently and swiftly. It was the wrong thing to say, apparently.
‘Stop it!’ Willow berated herself, daring a glance into Nick’s soulful eyes. She frowned, looking down at the body. Nick looked like a kicked puppy. She had just done the very thing she didn’t want to believe she was capable of.
She shut him out.
“I’ll be okay.” She managed, giving him a tight smile. “I was just thinking about. . . home.”
That was all the invitation Nick needed. Slowly, as she worked the scene under his watchful eyes, he asked her about her home, about what she had done before attending University.
And she answered, smiling a little, cringing at times and not answering at others.
It was farther than he’d ever gotten with her and was the only excuse he had for what he did next.
“Wanna grab something to eat tomorrow before our shift starts?”
Willow froze, the question ringing in her ears. Her heart screamed “yes – do it”, she had been lonely too long. Her brain cried out in negation. Everyone she had loved had died. Nick would be no exception.
But there was no way to know for sure.
Not unless . . .
Well, maybe it was time to take some risks again.
Nick smiled, nodding. “Great.”
“Great.” She echoed, and her grin was a little silly.
But it was cute, just like her.
For now, though, they had a dead hooker and a body waiting for them back at the lab.
Time was wasting.
It was time well spent, though.