A/N: Grissom is on the wrong side of the interrogation table. Can the CSIs (OK, one in particular G) find the evidence to clear him? We all know the answer, but hopefully it'll be an interesting ride anyway. Will eventually be GS. Special thanks to Kate for her help with this chapter.
Spoilers: The Accused is Entitled, Invisible Evidence, After the Show and No More Bets. But nothing directly.
Disclaimer: I think we've pretty well established that I'm broke. And the longer I live in Las Vegas, the "broker" I get.
Gil Grissom meandered slowly through the produce department, taking his time and studying the fruit as he did everything else in his life. The apples looked a bit bruised to his eye, and the bananas weren't any better. Perhaps the strawberries look better, he thought. His weekly Wednesday evening grocery shopping was a part of his routine. Sometimes he wondered if his life had become too compartmentalized and predictable, but it had worked well for him for many years and he wasn't inclined to make any drastic changes. He usually had Wednesdays off of work as well. Could I get any duller? he groaned to himself.
Placing the strawberries gingerly in his cart, he made his way to the checkout stand. The cashier and the bag boy both knew him by name. He made the obligatory small talk as they checked and bagged his groceries. The tabloid headlines never failed to amuse him. "Jacko Hiding Bigfoot at Neverland." "Miracle Baby Has Seven Heads." How did Scientific American always manage to miss these groundbreaking developments? He rolled his cart toward his car in the lot. As he placed the bags into his vehicle, he heard a voice calling out his name.
"Dr. Grissom!" the woman called as she approached him, grocery bag in hand.
"Yes?" He couldn't say why, but he was instantly on guard. The woman looked vaguely familiar to him.
"I'm so sorry to bother you," she spoke quickly, as though nervous. "I'm Megan, remember me? I'm the new receptionist at the lab. Been there a few weeks."
"Oh, yes. I've seen you."
"Well, God this is embarrassing, my car won't start. My brother's a mechanic. He can fix it for me in the morning, but I need a way to get home now. I just live up the street, right off Gibson. Can you give me a ride?"
Grissom definitely did not wish to have the solitude of the drive home interrupted by this woman he barely knew. But the polite thing to do would be to give her a ride, and Catherine's words of long ago echoed in his head. Politic, Gil. If he genuinely wanted to better connect with his employees, this would be a good place to start. And if he refused, he would be the bad guy once again.
"Okay," he sighed. "Hop in." Gil Grissom didn't know it, but that decision would forever alter his life.
"Thanks, Dr. Grissom," she said loudly as she opened the car door.
The following evening, Grissom arrived at the lab at his customary time and parked in his customary space. When he stepped out of his car, he was confronted by a young woman with deep bruising on her upper arms.
"Hello, Megan," he greeted slowly, noting the bruising.
"Hello? That's all you have to say for yourself?" Her voice increased in volume as she spoke.
"I'm sorry," Grissom responded with genuine confusion. "I'm not following you."
"Are you going to deny this now?"
Grissom looked around the parking lot and noticed that her loud voice had attracted the attention of others. "I don't know what you're talking about."
She lowered her voice, still seething with anger. "You raped me. You drove me out to that field and you raped me. All I wanted was a ride home."
"What? I certainly did not!"
"Do you expect me to work with you now? I have to leave. I can't do this, you sick bastard."
"Megan," Grissom was flummoxed. Why was she doing this to him? "Please keep your voice down. You could ruin my reputation if anyone heard you. I'm sure we can clear this up."
"I'll clear it up for you. I've been to the hospital and had the medical examination, but I haven't filed a police report. Give me $100,000, and I won't report you."
Suddenly, Grissom caught on to her scam. "Ah, so that's what this is about. You think I'm going to pay you to keep your mouth shut about something that didn't happen. Think again."
"You're throwing your career away," she warned.
"I didn't touch you, and I trust the evidence to speak for itself. You won't win this. Do us both a favor and drop it."
"I'll see you in court." Shaking, she climbed into her car and pulled away.
Grissom took a few minutes to settle him nerves and then retreated to the safety of his office. His thoughts were racing a mile a minute. If she filed charges, his professional and personal reputations could be destroyed, even if the accusation was proven groundless. If it progressed to the point of arrest, his career would instantly be over. Being cleared after arrest wouldn't help him keep his job. Surely, she wouldn't file charges, he told himself. He had made it clear to her that extortion wouldn't be rewarded. There was no need for her to take it any further.
He wondered briefly if she had really been raped. Maybe she had blacked out and confused him with her assailant. But if that were the case, would she be willing to settle for a payoff? He supposed it was possible; after all, no two people react to the same event in the same way. There was no point in worrying about it now; he had a shift to run. As if reading his mind, Catherine appeared in his doorway.
"Oh, Gil, do we get assignments tonight?"
"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute."
Grissom slept fitfully Friday, tossing and turning. The ringing telephone woke him at two in the afternoon. A quick glance at the caller ID box revealed: "Metro Police Crime Lab Ext 442." Damn, it's Cavallo. This can't be good. He took a deep breath to help clear the cobwebs in his brain and picked up the receiver.
"Grissom, this is Robert Cavallo. We have a serious problem. You need to get in here now."
"I'll be there." Grissom hung up the phone. He was stunned to realize that Megan had likely reported her assault and named him as the assailant. His hands shook as he mentally painted a picture of the comfortable life he'd so carefully crafted for himself going up in flames. Thirty minutes later, he started his engine and headed for the lab.
He found Conrad Ecklie, the day shift supervisor, in Cavallo's office with the lab director. "What's he doing here?"
"Have a seat, Grissom," Cavallo told him, closing the door behind him.
"Why is Conrad here?" Grissom asked again.
Cavallo ignored the question. "Are you familiar with Megan Phillips?"
"Yes," he replied softly.
"She filed a report this morning. She says you drove her out to a vacant lot and sexually assaulted her."
"She came to me demanding money last night. I never touched her."
"She says you did. This is an official investigation, Grissom."
Grissom pointed at Ecklie, who smirked. "Tell me he's not the investigator."
"You don't expect me to let night shift handle this, do you?" Cavallo asked. "They're way too close to it. It's Ecklie's case."
"No," Grissom insisted. "He has his own agenda."
"It's my decision."
Grissom offered a compromise. "At least let one of my CSIs work with them."
Cavallo thought about the entomologist's request for a moment. "Okay. One night shift CSI to work the investigation alongside the day shift. That way they can watch each other and we'll all be reassured that everything's on the up and up. Name your CSI."
Grissom found himself at a loss for words. Name your CSI. If he went by seniority, the choice was Catherine. She was also a good CSI who would bring her best game to the table. If he wanted the one who would work best with the day shift CSIs, the choice would be Nick. He got along well with everyone. If he wanted someone who knew when to keep his mouth shut, the obvious choice was Warrick. But he needed someone who encompassed all of those characteristics. Sara. She would be discreet, she got along well with most people and she was the best CSI in the lab. But would she be willing to help him after everything that had happened between them? She had never allowed her personal feelings interfere with her investigations in the past. He was extremely uncomfortable asking her, but this was his career on the line, and only the best would do. "Sidle. I want Sara Sidle."
"Okay. I'll get Sidle in and the investigation can get underway. As of now, you're officially on leave. You can be here when we talk to Sidle. After that, do not set foot in this building unless you're called in for questioning. Understood?"
Gil nodded. "Understood."
Sara's expression as she entered Cavallo's office was one of cool detachment. If she was nervous, she hid it well. She had received a telephone call from the lab director instructing her to come in immediately, but no explanation had been offered. She sat down in the empty chair in front of Cavallo's desk, surprised to see Grissom and Ecklie there as well. Grissom appeared to her as though he were sitting in the electric chair awaiting the charge.
"Director Cavallo," Sara nodded politely. "Grissom, Ecklie."
"CSI Sidle," Cavallo began, "you're here because you've been requested by the suspect in the case."
Sara shook her head, remembering the last time a suspect's request had been granted. Grissom looked at her and studied her expression. Was she thinking of the last time a suspect had chosen a CSI? She had not been at all pleased with that situation.
"Dr. Grissom has been accused of a felony. The case belongs to day shift, but I'm willing to allow one night shift CSI to work with them so that he feels fairly represented."
She didn't know exactly what she'd been expecting, but she was certain this wasn't it. Grissom was the suspect who requested her? Why? What was the case? "I'm flattered," she replied. "But, no."
"No?" Cavallo seemed surprised by her response. "You do realize what's at stake here?"
"Do you mind telling us why you're refusing? You are refusing, right?"
"I think Dr. Grissom knows why. There are some…issues… between us. I don't think I'm the best one for the job." She stared straight ahead at the director, unable to look at Grissom.
"You don't think you'd be objective?"
"Oh, I know I could be objective. I just don't think anyone else would think I could be objective. Do you mind if I ask what the charge is?"
"Rape." Grissom spoke for the first time since she'd come into the room.
"Rape?" Sara repeated. Surely she hadn't heard that correctly.
"Sara," Grissom implored, "I really need your help here."
"I wish you'd talked to me before putting me on the spot like this."
Ecklie sighed impatiently. "Are you in or out, Sidle?"
"Director Cavallo, could you give me a little time to think this over and talk to Dr. Grissom? I'll have an answer for you in a couple of hours."
"Okay. Take a break. Talk it over. You have one hour."
Wordlessly, Grissom and Sara walked briskly through the maze of corridors to his office. Grissom shut the door behind them.
"Why are you doing this? Are you that angry with me?"
Sara inhaled sharply. "Oh my God! Angry? Do you think I'm that petty? Do you think I'd hurt your career over some personal issue?"
Grissom looked away guiltily.
"Uh huh. You know what I'm talking about. But suddenly I'm your CSI of choice. What's that about?" She stopped to calm herself. "No, Grissom, this is not about throwing a tantrum or seeking revenge. Believe it or not, it's about doing what's best for your case."
Grissom turned back to her. "How so?"
"If this goes to trial, any evidence I collect in your defense will be called into question. Like I said, no one else is going to believe that I can act objectively here."
"No one knows. There's nothing to know."
"You know that isn't true. It's already happened once. If Phillip Gerrard can figure it out, so can others."
Grissom's confusion was evident in his face. "What are you talking about?"
"You never read the transcripts from that trial?" Sara asked with surprise.
"You should. Then you'd know why I don't want to be involved in this."
"Ecklie's team will be there. With them supervising the handling of any evidence, there shouldn't be a problem." Grissom fell into his chair, covering his face with his hands. "Sara, you know me."
She shook her head sadly. "I'm not sure I do."
He looked up at her again, his eyes pleading with her to understand. "You know me well enough to know I didn't rape that woman."
"I believe you. But I still don't think I'm the best person for the job."
"Sara, please," he said plaintively.
"They're going to pick your life apart and put it under a microscope. Are you sure you want me privy to that?"
"I need you."
Sara paced back and forth across the room then came to a stop in front of her supervisor. Her decision was made. "I'll do it, but I still have reservations."