Implied Connections
Chapter 22 - Diamond in the Rough

By: Braidless Baka

Spoilers: Quotes in here from: 4x12 "Butterflied"; 4x10 "Coming of Rage"; and 1x21 "Justice is Served"

Disclaimer: CSI and all the characters you recognise don't belong to me, any mention of Rachel Simmons or Nigel Bell mean they do belong to me. As does the betting on techs ;;

A/N: As with every other chapter I've written, humongous props to RainbowsnStars and Krazykid197 for the proof reading. I shan't be asking them to do it for the remaining chapters - I'm too shamefaced after my previous disappearing act... Any remaining mistakes and errors are, of course, my own. I'd also like to express my appreciation for the reviews that continuing in my absence. Because of that this will be finished ;; Basically, I've been in a barren wasteland without internet for several months. More props to KCEstel who has also read this (though not proof-read as such) and provided feedback.

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For once, Grissom realised the crime scene wasn't going to have to speak to him. He'd seen exactly what had happened, the sickening smile on her face when she'd lifted the gun to her forehead.

And proceeded to blow her own brains out.

Of course, he'd rushed to her side, felt for breath, for a pulse. But, no. You don't just recover from something like that. She was dead. And nothing short of a full scale miracle was going to bring her back.

Brass had told him, on the phone, that he should stick with the body. Just until they got there. But Brass didn't seem to understand what Rachel had implied.

'In a way, it's sad. I always know how these things are going to end. I already know who's going to die, who's going to live in eternal damnation, and who's going to die through no fault of their own.'

Now, and only now, did Grissom understand what she'd been saying to him. She, Rachel, was the one to die. Greg was the one to die through no fault of his own. And Grissom... Grissom was the one who was going to live in eternal damnation. But why was Greg going to die? Decisively the crime scene analyst got to his feet. What had she done to him?

'Gil? Are you okay?'

'Yeah. I'm just thinking.'

Cautiously, Catherine asked, 'Thinking about what?'

'Which bone in Rachel Simmons' body I'm going to break first.'

It was obvious, he realised as he tramped through the forest, calling Greg's name desperately, what she had meant. She wanted revenge on the department. Grissom was head of that department. It was people like himself that had falsely convicted Nigel Bell and built a case strong enough to give him the death penalty. Rachel didn't care who Bell was, no more than she'd cared who Greg was. She, like so many victims, wanted closure...

And that brought closure for her. Knowing Grissom was going to pay the price. Knowing that someone was going down. Just like the families of Bell's - no, Simmons' - victims had felt closure at someone paying for the deaths. Whether or not it was the right man... that just didn't figure into anything.

But, he reminded himself sharply, battling off a sharp branch, Rachel Simmons wasn't a victim. She was a murderer and an abductor. Greg... he was just the latest victim in the crime that was Rachel Simmons' life.

He swiped some more branches away. He was bleeding now. Not a lot, not even noticeably so, but the renegade twigs and branches had scratched up his hands. But he didn't even realise. He had to find Greg soon. He was still alive there, somewhere.

"GREG!" he bellowed hoarsely, not for the first time, his gaze swinging about the undergrowth. "GREG!" His voice echoed eerily about him. If Greg were even able to respond, what good would it do? Would Grissom even hear him? Or would Greg be too out of it to realise who he was?

Then, sharply it seemed, his cell phone rang. The ring was plain, like a house phone. None of those fancy jingles everyone else seemed to have. He took it up and spoke, his voice clipped. "Grissom."

"Hey," the voice in his ear was Nick's.

Grissom continued his search, now refraining from yelling Greg's name, but his search becoming more intent because of it. "What Nick?"

"We're on our way over, the chopper's just about ready."

"With - "

"Yeah, in all it's heat seeking glory." A pause. "You find anything?" Nick voice was hopeful.

Grissom shook his head. It was defeat. He should have found something by now. "No, nothing. Not even her car."

Nick's voice sounded understanding. "We find the car and follow the trail?"

"That's what I was thinking. Who's with you?"

"Everyone."

Grissom nodded quietly. "Figures. Stay in touch."

"Will do." Another pause. Nick was getting good at those. "Good luck man."

A few minutes later, the cell phone was returned to its pocket, and the frantic search continued. There had to be something. Anything would be better than nothing at all. The rest of the team would be there in, say, half an hour. But Greg could be dead by then. He could be dead already for all they knew. For all anyone knew.

He was a good kid. With that thought, Grissom shoved some more tree branches aside. Now he was getting angry with himself. This wasn't something Greg deserved.

That got Grissom thinking. What did he really know about the DNA tech? He knew that he had an irrational love of Blue Hawaiian coffee. He was into latex and scuba diving. What else? Oh yeah, he wore braces. Or at least, he had done in the past. That discovery was fairly recent, but to look at Greg it was something Grissom could easily imagine. Nobody was born with teeth like that. A grin like that usually came with serious orthodontic work.

'Yeah, I had it all -- palate expander, braces, retainer, head gear. Ah, five years of misery, but worth every penny, don't you think?'

After that statement, he'd flashed a smile in Sara's direction and wandered off to meet some demand or answer some summons. He always seemed to be answering someone's summons, even if he made like he wasn't.

"GREG!" The hunt was starting to show more vigour. Old memories just made Grissom want to find Greg faster. But they kept coming. Greg was one of the most capable people he'd ever met, but he had the innate ability to talk the hind legs off a donkey. Or at least, in the figurative sense.

'Propylene glycol. Active ingredient in rogaine for male pattern baldness. Personally, I don't use the stuff, but my grandfather, Papa Olaf -- he was Bruce Willis at age 16. Lucky for me, baldness comes from the mother's side, so I'm safe...'

All Grissom had learned from that exchange was that, at the time, he'd been very tired, and Greg wasn't likely to be prone to premature hair loss. He didn't really care about Papa Olaf, he hadn't then and he'd never started.

Speaking of hair...

'Did you ever hear a dog say "woof-woof" Greg?'

Greg had simply shrugged in response. He wasn't used to Grissom being so talkative, instantly suspecting something in the way of prioritising evidence.

Grissom had continued. 'I mean, what is the origin of that? And what do we sound like to them, I wonder.'

Greg had simply shrugged again, but this time harbouring a slight smile. 'Probably blah, blah, blah.'

Grissom had then gone on to inquire about Greg having come with some "blah blah" for him. That day, what Greg had come up with was something they already knew about, but that didn't make him any less brilliant at his job. Nor was he any less eager because of it. He seemed like, and played up to the role of being, a goofball. But he was a likeable goofball. In fact, he had surprised everyone. He had been taken on while Brass was still the supervisor, and Brass was a man with an incredible turnover. He fired people left right and centre, or they simply left. He had high standards. Secretly the CSIs would give every tech odds of survival, usually decided by Warrick. Greg's had been... well, Grissom didn't remember his exact odds, but they had been pretty unfavourable. In fact, they consisted of him getting fired within the first two days. Greg had surprised everyone, and lasted to the present day. Even looking to move out of the lab and into the field. He'd been an unusual find, a diamond in the rough. He knew exactly what he was doing, while giving the distinct impression he was a dunce dressed in a lab coat.

That was when Grissom's cell phone rang again. He answered it just as curtly as he had the first time. "Grissom."

But, instead of Nick, this time it was Catherine on the other end. "We're nearly there."

"How long?"

"A few minutes. Should we pick you up?"

Grissom shook his head, pushing another branch out of the way. "No, I'll stay on the ground. Let me know if there's a car or a body."

"Ditto."

After returning the phone to his pocket a second time, Grissom simply continued his search. "Almost there Greggo," he said, the words spoken quietly to himself. "Almost there."

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A/N-2: I'd just like to point out that, while I appreciate your patience up to this point - if I disappear again I beg your patience again. We're almost there, only one or two chapters to go. I'm aiming to finish before New Year. Again, I apologise for my absence.