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Summary: 1x01 - Catherine, Sara and Ray investigate the mysterious death of an actress who was shot on-stage by her co-star whilst Nick and Greg re-open a cold case upon receiving some new evidence relating to the case.

Categories: CSI - General
Characters: Catherine Willows, Greg Sanders, Jim Brass, Nick Stokes, Other, Sara Sidle
Genres: Case, Drama, Series
Warnings: Adult themes
Chapters: 1 [Table of Contents]
Series: None

Word count: 3422; Completed: No
Updated: 20 Jun 2011; Published: 17 Jun 2011

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Author's Chapter Notes:
Disclaimer: I don't own anything of the CSI Franchise, that belongs to Anthony Zuiker, Jerry Bruckheimer and CBS. Characters which don't appear in the series are my own.


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"Honey, I don't think I can do this," said the tall red-headed woman as she took a seat on the frayed armchair, one which had clearly seen better days. "I love you, but this is my home and I don't think I'm ready to leave my life behind to go with you.

"Olivia, I promise you. You won't regret this," the other person, a man, handsome, slightly shorter than she was spoke.

The man strode over to the armchair Olivia was sitting on, bent down and gave her a light kiss on her forehead. He was slightly younger than she was; there was a sense of mischief surrounding him.

"Come on," he whispered to her, "Seattle will be perfect, you'll still be close enough to your parents yet you'll be far enough away from him. We could start a new life, I can transfer to the Washington branch and you'll get the lifestyle you always wanted. Not like this... shithole."

Olivia sighed, taking in what he had told her. "But... this is my home... I've lived here all my life, how am I going to tell my daughter? How am I going to tell her "say goodbye to your friends, your job, your boyfriend, we're moving twelve-hundred miles away." What about me? I can't just, transfer my job; ditch all my friends, my parents..."

"You've got me!" The man began to raise his voice, "Stella's a big girl now, I'm sure if she really cares about her life here she can stay with..."

"I am not leaving my Stella behind! And I certainly wouldn't leave her for you! What makes you think I would do that to run off with you?!"

"Because I make you happy, when was the last time he did..."

"No! I can't do this, just leave me alone," she forcefully pushed him aside, got up from the chair and headed for the door.

"Don't you turn your back on me!" The man called, his voice filling with rage as he opened a drawer on the table beside the chair and took out the gun and pointed it at her. "Don't move, or I'll shoot!"

"You're going to have to shoot me then!"

"If I can't have you... no one can."

A loud bang echoed around the room, Olivia let out a gasp before she slumped against the door and collapsed in a graceful heap on the ground, the spring green carpet beneath her revealing a brown stain dispersing from her fresh corpse. The audience expressed a mixture of emotions; some seemed impressed whilst others were startled by the authentic sounding gunfire. For a short moment there was just an eerie silence only broken by the ticking of the grandfather clock on stage. It soon became clear however that character had been broken and the overall mood changed to concern as it soon became apparent that this was not in the original script.

"Oh god, Lorna!" The man panicked, coming out of character and running over to where his fellow cast-member lay fallen. "Lorna, no! Somebody call nine-one-one!"

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Stifling a yawn, the slender strawberry-blond women ducked under the crime tape and proceeded to walk towards the main auditorium. Although not exhausted, she was still not fully awake having been called in early for this shift but she didn't mind too much as swing were busy with a drive-by on East Flamingo and the previous evening had proven to be uneventful, at least she wasn't stuck in the lab again.

The main entrance was packed full of eager spectators, many of whom were shocked or annoyed about losing their money's worth, as well as around a dozen police officers and detectives undergoing the tedious task of taking statements from all of them. The tense atmosphere clashed with the glamorous entrance decor, boasting numerous chandeliers, portraits and the room emanated a welcoming glow. Catherine looked over to the left to see a tall, burly detective finishing with an elderly woman. He caught her eye and gave her a wink and she gave him a smile in return before heading into the main theatre complex.

"What have we got then?" She asked the homicide detective, who clearly looked grumpy and deflated about the laborious task that awaited them.

"Victim's name is Lorna McAlman," he began reading from his notebook, "36 years of age. Plays the main female role in this touring show, "Vegas to Seattle With Love"."

She let out a slight snigger as Brass read out the title with a hint of sarcastic romance, particularly emphasising "with love".

"Well," he continued, "we're still awaiting about a hundred or so statements but so far they all seem to claim that the leading guy shot the female vic during the performance. At first they thought it was part of the performance before they saw the blood and the guy broke out of character and called for an ambulance."

"Where's the leading male?"

"His name is Martin Salisbury, we're taking him downtown."

"Okay, but if you're going to kill someone, why do it in front of an audience of six hundred?"

"Beats me, but we're going to talk to him just in..."

Brass was cut off suddenly by a short, eccentric looking man dashing around the room like a headless chicken, sporting a large pair of aviators which clashed horribly with a garish Hawaiian shirt and jeans. His hair was messy and greying and it looked like several had been pulled out. He was on the phone and speaking frantically in a wheezy sounding voice. "Yeah... yeah I know they're gonna be pissed... I can't afford to refund them all do they not know how much it costs to set up a touring show in Vegas... yeah... yeah just call her in, I need her at rehearsals tomorrow seven am sharp!"

Hanging up he tried to dart away but Brass prevented this by patting his shoulder, gaining the peculiar man's attention. "Hey, hey, who are you?" he asked the man.

"Quinz Martinez Algora Risetti, Production Stage Manager of "Vegas to Seattle With Love," he replied. "The show is ruined. We've already had to cancel tomorrow's performance and how are we going to keep to schedule? We're supposed to be in LA next week, complete sell out on all four nights."

"With all due respect, a woman has been killed," Catherine pointed out.

"Lorna's death is an utter tragedy. She was an absolute star and she had such a promising career ahead of her. I don't know how my show will survive without her!"

"Okay, Mr Risetti..." Brass began.

"Martinez Algora Risetti," he piped in. Brass shot him a look of disapproval before continuing.

"Okay, Mr Risetti, I'm Jim Brass, this is Catherine Willows from the Crime Lab we need to ask you a few questions."

"Can you talk us through tonight's performance please?" Catherine asked.

"Well," Risetti began, ""Vegas to Seattle With Love" is a dramatic comedy about a beautiful love affair between a marrie..."

"Okay, okay, stop there", Brass interrupted, "Spoilers and yadda yadda. Where does the gun fit into this, ahem, comedy?"

"Well, the gun incident occurs towards the end of Act One where Olivia gets intimidated about moving to Seattle with her new-found lover. He tries to shoot at her as she leaves. Only he's meant to miss, and she's not supposed to die. Oh and that gun's not supposed to be able to fire real bullets! I can't believe someone would try and sabotage my show!"

"Sabotage?" Catherine questioned, "so you think someone else replaced Martin Salisbury's prop with a real gun?"

"I'm almost certain. Martin would never wish to kill Lorna; they had such great chemistry behind the scenes as well as on-stage. They were even going to set up their own theatre school in Sacramento once we'd finished touring! They were best friends, no wait, they were bigger than best friends, I don't believe for one second he would intentionally hurt her."

"Okay Mr Risetti," Brass continued, "we're going to need a list of anyone who had access backstage, to the props, dressing rooms etcetera."

"Sure." His phone began ringing again, "sorry, I gotta get this."

"Don't leave town," Brass called out as he scuttled away. "So Cath, what're you thinking?"

"I don't know, I really don't see why Martin Salisbury would kill his co-cast member on-stage?"

"Maybe to throw us off?"

"Maybe. I'll page Ray and Sara and start processing; I'm going to start on the stage now. We need to find out what happened and fast. It looks like we already have the press on our asses and I don't need to Undersheriff doing the same. Whatever happened, this comedy into a tragedy."

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"You called?"

Nick turned around to find the younger CSI beaming at him, eager to be assigned a new task from the assistant supervisor. Nick was slightly envious of the alertness of his fellow co-worker, having had little sleep the day before, although that could be down to the copious amounts of coffee that Greg appeared to guzzle daily.

"Hey Greg," Nick replied, "Judy just sent me this."

He pointed at the large peach fabric stretched out over the table in the layout room. It had clearly had quite a journey before arriving at the lab, there were various rips and tears in the fabric accompanied with various brown extracts dotted around. Most noticeable of course was the huge red stain which encompassed the middle of the fabric and extending towards the corners.

"Someone get a little clumsy with their wine?" Greg suggested, "I'll test it for blood."

"Yeah, anyway Judy said someone dropped it off earlier, found it on their driveway, thought it looked suspicious and suggested that we should have a look. Bit peculiar though, any normal person would just throw it away, but still, could be something we might have missed on another case."

"Positive for blood," said Greg, holding up the magenta cotton swab which confirmed his findings.

"Okay, send it to DNA. I'll see if I can get this soily stuff to trace, looks like we've got a busy evening ahead of us after all."

Nick switched off the lights and ran the fabric under the ALS. Having swept over the fabric numerous times, he found nothing new which proved to be of any interest.

"What are you thinking Nick?" Greg had returned from his excursion to DNA accompanied with a handful of cookies and another cup of coffee.

"Whoa, no food in here you dope! And why are you on a break already, we started work only... fifteen minutes ago."

Greg shrugged, replying with a mouthful of cookies "Am hongry. Wha' you thimkin' then?"

"I'm thinking, we got a body dump missing a body."

At that moment, Judy appeared in the room carrying a letter in her hand. "This just came for you," she handed him the letter, "well, I assumed it was for you."

Nick peeked at the letter as Greg inspected the envelope noticing that there wasn't a postage stamp, and there was also something strange with the address, "Judy, this is addressed to a Gregory Hojem!"

"Like I said," she replied, "I assumed it was for you."

Judy walked off, he heard her heels clinking on the laminated floor and getting further away. He had another peek at what the letter said, he glimpsed at some words he could not understand before Greg gave him a look which expressed 'out of my territory.'

"I'll... I'll get this substance to trace," Nick said, slightly awkwardly as he collected the soil sample and left Greg reading the mysterious letter alone.

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The room which Sara found herself in had been left in pristine condition, were it not for the various costumes, props, make-up assortments and books, it would have been like nobody had ever stepped in there. The east facing wall was lined with mirrors, reminiscent of a showgirl's dressing room, albeit without the glamorous headdresses. Not one speck of dust was in sight, not even along the top of the mirrors. As if Lorna McAllman had cleaned up before the scene of her crime.

Of course, nothing of great interest or suspicion was obvious, even to the eyes of a crime scene investigator, after all, this was not the primary crime scene and it was doubtful that any evidence found in the room would be anything but circumstantial. Despite this, she carried on snooping around, taking pictures as required, and trying to identify anything that looked remotely out of place.

"She sure liked to sparkle," a deep voice emerged from behind Sara; it was Ray examining a short dress consisting entirely of sequins and glitter.

"Oh yeah," she replied, indicating to the dress, "I'm sure Greg would like that."

"Well that'll make this year's Christmas shopping a little easier."

Sara smiled to herself as she went back to her snooping, trying to get the image of Greg dancing in the sequined dress out of her head. Something caught her eye and she called out to Ray, "it looks like she was celebrating something."

She snapped a photo and picked up the bottle of champagne. It had been opened but only a little of it had been drunk. It was probably the best thing they had gotten so far so she emptied the champagne into a container and bagged the bottle.

"You don't drink champagne alone do you?" she asked Ray.

"I don't drink it at all," he replied, "but if I did, I'd consider it more of a social drink."

"Yeah, me too. Looks like someone else was in here, but then again that doesn't mean they killed her and judging by the amount left here, it looks like they weren't interested in the alcohol. "

Ray nodded in agreement.

"Looks like she had a family as well," Ray said showing her a picture of a balding man in his forties and a pretty girl, who looked vaguely similar to the victim with long red hair and distinctively emerald green eyes. She could not have been any older than fourteen.

"Husband and daughter?"

"I guess so."

The two of them spent the next hour processing the remainder of the room; the lack of anything useful had begun to frustrate Sara as she grew ever more annoyed at processing the same corner of the room three times.

"No blood. No hairs," Sara said with a tone showing she was clearly fed up, "quite a few prints though, although seeing as this is a dressing room I wouldn't be surprised if all of them had a reason to be in here. What do you make of this though?"

She pointed out something on the vanity table and Ray went over to examine for himself.

"A pair of hand prints," he recalled, "but, they're the wrong way wrong. The right hand's clearly on the left hand side and vice versa. Size of the hands suggests both prints are from the same person and are possibly consistent of someone leaning back on the vanity table?"

"Or, maybe she wasn't alone. Private dressing room, ideal place to get your rocks off, things get a bit steamy, she needs a little support."

"That finding seems plausible."

"Right, I think Catherine might need a hand processing the prop room," Sara told Ray, "you could go give her a hand and I'll take what we've got back to the lab, see if I can get anything useful from it."

"Good idea, I have a feeling we'll be more successful there."

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"So let me explain the situation to you, Martin. We all know that you killed Lorna..."

"I didn't mean to!" Martin slammed on the table, eyes filled with anger and sadness glaring at Brass.

"Whoa whoa, don't jump the gun," said Brass calmly holding out his hands, "just let me finish. We all know you killed Lorna, maybe by accident, we don't know, we're still investigating. Unfortunately for you, we've got nothing to present to the jury that says that you weren't responsible for her death. Now see the jury, they're not the brightest bulbs in the box, but they have six hundred eye witness statements, and video footage of the performance, which shows you shooting Lorna. Now here's your chance to give your statement, what's gonna make us think you didn't intend to kill her?"

Martin Salisbury contemplated for a few moments. Brass noticed the guy was nervous, sweating like a dog in a Chinese restaurant, his hands were shaking and not once did he make eye contact. Usually these were signs of a guilty person but he knew that this case was different; they all knew that he had killed her but then again he could be telling the truth, he could have been unintentionally covering up the dirty man's work. He almost felt sorry for the guy but he knew that he'd have to play him just like every other person who sat opposite him.

After a few seconds thought he replied softly, "because we're best friends."

Brass smiled meekly before replying, "because you're friends. Well, I know friends, I have a few myself, and I know that friends sometimes fall out. And I also know that friends sometimes kill each other..."

"Lorna and I were more than friends! We were more than best friends! We were going to travel the country, even the world! We were going to set up our own theatre school in California, advance our careers..."

"Yeah okay, you two were close, but that's not enough to say you didn't do it. Oh and you're an actor, how do I know everything you just told me isn't a lie?"

"I can't believe what you're saying..."

"Well that's funny, cos I'm having trouble believing you myself," Brass retorted. He noticed that Martin was starting to turn a deep shade of red and was visibly shaking. Worried that he might lawyer up, he decided to move the interrogation into a different direction, "okay, let's move on. How did the real gun end up on stage?"

"I don't know," Martin replied having calmed down slightly, "that's the prop department's responsibility. All I know is that the gun is kept in the table drawer for most of the first act until it gets to the right scene. I assume they put it there just before the show begins."

"Okay, fair enough, but before you fired, did it not occur to you that you were holding a real gun? I mean, there's an obvious difference between your standard pistol and a stage prop."

"No, the stage prop is actually supposed to be a modified standard pistol; I honestly noticed no difference between the two."

"Apart from the one you used went boom?"

Martin nodded slowly and then went silent. He looked glum, exhausted, this didn't look like a guilty man in Brass' eyes. He knew that unless he got a confession, they'd need some more concrete evidence to detain him any further, and the prospect of a confession was looking extremely unlikely. Brass too was keen to get back to the theatre again; there were still questions to be asked around the crime scene, and he knew he hadn't actually been telling Martin the truth they had video footage, that was only based on the assumption it had been filmed illegally and he had nothing left to go on.

"Okay Martin, you're free to go, but don't go far, even if you're not our killer we're going to need you for paperwork, testimonies and legal crap like that."

Martin got up in silence and left with the same depressed expression on his face that he had arrived with. Before retiring to his office, Brass quietly whispered to the observing officer:

"Keep an eye on him. Make sure he doesn't do anything stupid."

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TBC