'To get murdered.'

'No,' Grissom admitted. 'But this strikes me as one of the least desirable.'

'I hear that,' she said, and strode out.

He smiled to himself, pleased at how unfazed by the crime scene she'd been. He had picked Sara personally, when a CSI had been killed on the job and needed replacing; she'd been a student who excelled at his seminars, and he'd been impressed and sought her out and brought her in, and she had not disappointed.

On the other hand, he was disappointed in himself, sometimes, as his affection for this bright young woman had on occasion threatened to take him over the professional line.

And that was a line Gil Grissom did not wish to cross.

The supervisor returned his attention to the dead body.

Some sort of liquid pooled on the victim's back and he bent down to take a closer look.

Little sailors,he thought, as he took a photo of the semen gathered at the small of the victim's back. Setting the camera aside, he then swabbed a small portion of the fluid for DNA testing later. Something about the sample troubled him, though; this was part of the M.O. he had recognized, but it was a little…off.

Then he had it: The fluid on the back was meant to suggest that the killer had masturbated onto the victim, but the semen pooled neatly in that one spot on the vic's back.

It's been poured there,Grissom thought with a grim smile.

If the killer had ejaculated, in a sick frenzy attached to the murder, the result would hardly have been one tidy little pool. Most likely, other droplets would be here and there, spattered….

He bagged the semen sample, finished taking his photos, swabbed the blood in the rug, and went over the body for any trace evidence. He found nothing. The last thing he did was carefully remove the rope and bag it. When he had completed his initial pass at the body, he withdrew his cell phone and punched the speed dial.

On the second ring, a brusque voice answered: 'Jim Brass.'

'I've got something you need to see,' Grissom said, without identifying himself. 'It's not in your jurisdiction, but it's right up your alley.'

'Cute, Gil. But haven't you heard? I'm on vacation.'

'Really kicking back, are you?'

Silence; no, not silence: Grissom, detective that he was, could detect a sigh….

'You know as well as I do,' Brass said. 'I'm bored out of my mind.'

'You know, people who live for their work should seek other outlets.'

'What, like collecting bugs? Gil-what have you got?'

'An oldie but baddie-I wasn't with you on it…kind of before our time, together.'

'What are you talking about?'

'The one you never forget-your first case.'

The long pause that followed contained no sigh. Not even a breath. Just stony silence.

Then Brass said, 'You're not talking about my first case back in Jersey, are you?'

'No. I've got a killing out here in North Las Vegas that shares a distinctive M.O. with your other first case.'

'Christ. Where are you exactly?'

'Just getting started.'

'I mean the address!'

'Oh,' Grissom said, and gave it to him.

'Twenty minutes,' Brass said and broke the connection.

The homicide captain made it in fifteen.

From the open doorway, Grissom watched Brass's car pull up and the detective get out, and cross the lawn like a man on a mission. Which, Grissom supposed, he was.

The compact, mournful-eyed Brass-always one to wear a jacket and tie, no matter the weather-had showed up in jeans and a blue shirt open at the neck.

The uniformed officer, Logan, went out to catch Brass at the front stoop, thinking a relative or other civilian had arrived. The detective flashed his badge, but Logan seemed unimpressed.

'What brings you to our neck of the woods, Captain?'

Leaning out the doorway, Grissom called, 'He's with me, Officer. It's all right.'

Logan, apparently not wishing to tangle with Grissom again, sighed and nodded and let Brass pass.

'You could've told him I was coming,' Brass complained.

'Yeah, well I'm still working on my social skills,' Grissom said.

'Really? How's that coming along?'

Shrugging, Grissom stepped back inside and got out of the way so Brass could see the body.

The detective took one look and shook his head. The blood had drained from his face and his eyes were large and unblinking. 'Well, son of a-'

'Is it CASt?' Grissom asked.

Catherine came back in from the kitchen, kit in one latex-gloved hand, gesturing behind her with the other. 'I didn't find anything except dirty dishes…' Seeing Brass, she froze and blinked. 'Aren't you on vacation?'

Brass nodded to her. 'I was.' His sad gaze fixed on Grissom. 'Well, it sure looks like CASt's handiwork….'

'Cast?' Catherine asked, joining them. The three had the corpse surrounded-he wasn't going anywhere.

Closing his eyes, Brass touched the thumb and middle finger of his right hand to the bridge of his nose. 'You didn't work that case…you might even have been a lab tech still. I dunno.'

Catherine looked at Grissom and tightened her eyes in a signal of, Help me out here? Grissom, of course, merely shrugged.

Brass was saying, 'I know you've heard me talk about it-my first case here? Never solved? Lot of play in the press? Worst serial killer in Vegas history? Cop in charge an incompetent New Jersey jackass? Sound familiar?'

'Taunted the PD in the papers,' Catherine said, nodding, thinking out loud. 'Used the initials…C period A period S period tee.'

' 'Capture,' ' Grissom said, ' 'Afflict, and Strangle.' '

'I did a little lab work on the case,' Catherine said. 'I was nightshift then, too. And wasn't it a dayshift case?'

'Yes. This was ten, eleven years ago.' Brass rubbed his forehead. 'I just transferred in, from back East. Still shellshocked from my…my divorce. Not exactly on top of the Vegas scene, yet….'

'All I remember about the case is pretty vague,' Catherine admitted. 'More from TV and the papers than anything in-house….'

Grissom said, 'Lots of media, but we were able to control it better in those days. And fortunately it never caught wide national play.'

Brass said, 'Yeah, we kept as much out as we could. My partner, Vince Champlain, didn't want to muddy the waters.'

'Good call,' Catherine said. 'Wish we had better luck with that, these days.'

Brass continued: 'Vince was the senior detective. He figured, more we put in the paper, more crackpots we'd have to deal with. S. O. P. And yet, of course, there were plenty just the same. We must've had twenty different whack jobs try to claim those crimes.'

'None of the wrongos looked right?' Catherine asked.

Brass shook his head. 'Nah, standard issue nut-cases. Serial confessors.'

Catherine said, 'What did you have?'

With a dark, defeated smile, Brass looked at her and said, 'Victims-we had victims. Five-all male, all white, all in late middle-age, and all on the heavy side…'

As if it had been choreographed, the detective and the two CSIs looked as one at the dead body.

'…and all strangled with a reverse-eight noose.'

Catherine frowned. 'Which is what, exactly?'

'A knot-a 'wrong' running noose,' Grissom said. 'It's about which end of the rope you pull to tighten the noose. This knot's backward…and other than yo-yos, you never see it used.'

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