Little Birdie – Chapter 03



Chapter 03

The Superbowl was on the television, but Nick hardly paid any attention on it.  He hadn’t had a good night’s sleep yesterday (or in his case, good day’s sleep?) and it was starting to affect his ability to stay awake for more than ten minutes at a time if he wasn’t standing up and working.

Suddenly, his nose caught the scent.  Yes, THE scent that was surely a gift from the heavens, granted to the poor mortal souls that required sleep to function.

“I wish I had a camera.  That was a priceless face, right there.”

Nick peeled open one eye and felt his lips lift when he saw the owner of the voice … and the steaming mug.  He perked up just at the sight of it.

“Lay off, Greg.  I think you just brought me the answer to all life’s problems.”  He gratefully accepted the cup of Hawaiian Blue and took a sip.  He didn’t bother hiding the long hum of pleasure as the liquid assaulted his taste buds.

“You mean 42?”

“If a number had a physical form, this’d be it.”

The two sat in semi-silence, with only the TV as background noise, as Nick polished off half the cup before finally feeling enough anchored to the real world to interact with it.  “Thanks, that was just what I needed.”

“No problemo.  Did something happen?”  Greg looked over his own drink apprehensively.  “You’re not usually this bummed.”

“Naw, it’s nothing.  Just a little tired, that’s all.”

“Girl?”

Nick practically snorted his coffee through his nose.  “With our job?  I’d have to be the luckiest man in the world to find someone.”  He coughed a bit more.   “Dang, this stuff really sticks in your throat…”

“It’ll go down with some water.  Do you want the rest of that?”

Nick thought Greg looked much too hopeful to not have ulterior motives, and he said as much.

“What?  I can’t let any of that stuff go to waste.  That’d be a travesty to the beans, the coffee, the planters, God, the coffee machine… Not to mention me and my wallet…”  Greg looked mildly offended.  Not for the first time Nick wondered just how expensive a pound of the brand was.

“Well you can’t have it.  I’ll finish this off, don’t you worry.”

“Worry about what?” a new voice added in.

~

“Hello Catherine,” both boys greeted her.

“Hello.  What do we have here?”  She didn’t even have to ask.  Her nose answered perfectly well for her.

“Would you like some?” offered the youngest member of the team.

She smiled in gratitude.  “Yes, definitely.  You think I’d pass up on this rare encounter with the elusive Greg-made coffee?”  She took the proffered cup and sipped.

“I must say, Greg, if you ever want a second job, you should open your own store,” said Nick.  Catherine held back her snort because she knew that he was only half-kidding. There were times when she felt like the drink messed with her brain.  It made her think really odd things.  Surely it had the same effect on her junior colleagues.

“What?  No way!  If I opened a store, I’d need…” the labrat trailed off.  He seemed to be in deep thought, although Catherine wasn’t really sure that Nick’s question warranted such serious consideration.  “…to first find a spot, build the store, manage the stock, and a whole bunch of other troubles that don’t even need to be listed.  Naw, I’m fine with my own personal supply that I like to dole out in portions out of the goodness of my heart to my poor fellow colleagues.”

“Yeah, yeah, we’re all eternally indebted to you and your 42,” said Nick as he waved his hand impatiently.

“42, eh?”

Greg shrugged.  “The answer to all life’s questions.”  He lifted his cup in toast before chugging the last bit down.

“Bottoms up.”  Nick followed suit.  Catherine did as well.  The slight burn accompanied by the tinge of burnt roast warmed her to the gut.

“So,” Nick turned the conversation.  “How’s your new roommate turning out?”

Greg set to cleaning the equipment.  As he was turned away, Catherine couldn’t tell what his expression was as he replied, “Well, he’s pulling load.  I was afraid he’d be a slob like he was back in college, but turns out he’s all right.”  He sounded almost wistful, she thought.

“What was he again, an engineer?” Nick asked.

“Yeah, ‘nerds unite!’ that sort of thing.  He’d stay up all night and be so exhausted that his junk would just keep piling up higher and higher.”

“You’re living with a new roommate?” asked the elder CSI.  It was rare an aspect of her colleagues’ lives hadn’t made it up the proverbial grapevine.

“Oh yeah, someone I knew from way back.  College was just the first time we’d actually roomed together, and, man, never before had I realized just how far he’d go without his parents around.”  Catherine could totally appreciate that sentiment.  Without her around, who knew what state Lindsay’s room would be in.  She mentally shuddered.

“So, childhood friend?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that.”

Nick walked over to Greg and slapped him on the back.  “Well, you know our Greggo.  He could get along with every person, animal, and creepy-crawlie thing on this planet.  What’s a messy roommate or two?”

“Technically, insects and arachnids are also considered animals.”

Nick jumped at the new voice, while Catherine just smiled at the exact point Gil had decided to interrupt their conversation on.  Not one to be surprised easily, Greg wiped his hands on the towel before turning around.  “Yeah, and so are sponges and worms.  What have you got for us?”

Gil held the folders under his arm up with an odd grimace-smile combination that only he seemed to pull off.  “Why, cases, of course.”





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