The Tomato by librarylady61

response to the "Unbound Improv Challenge" June 1, 2004

Grissom approached the tomato warily. He had just returned to his office after hours at a nasty crime scene. The tomato, large and ripe, was in the middle of his desk, atop the heap of paperwork that awaited him. It hadn't been there when he had left.

Curiosity overcame caution; he took a closer look. There was nothing unusual about the tomato, except for its unexplained presence on his desk. Maybe one of the others had left it here, but why? Who had been in here? He picked up the tomato, planning to put it the break room fridge. Hearing the crinkling of paper, he turned the tomato over and looked at the bottom of it. A tiny sticky-note was attached; it read, "check the DNA lab." The note was hand-written, but he didn't recognize the writing.

He pondered the situation; someone, it seemed, was playing a game with him. A game he didn't know, with an outcome he couldn't guess. While intrigued by the mystery; he also felt hesitant. This game might be innocent fun; but it could also be potentially humiliating. Even dangerous.

His eyes kept returning to the tomato in his hand. With a smirk, and a little shake of his curly head; he bowed to the inevitable. He knew himself well; just as Pavlov's dogs salivated at the sound of a bell; so must Gil Grissom solve any puzzle placed within his reach. He headed for the DNA lab.

Greg was not there; his lab was empty. What Grissom found instead was a tray of white mushrooms, occupying the spot where Greg's boombox usually sat. A closer look revealed the note, this time sending him to the garage. The garage held a basket of uncooked pasta; and a note directing him to the layout room. Grissom smiled to himself; somewhat surprised to realize that he was enjoying the game.

He continued to "chase the evidence", and each new discovery added to the mystery. He had not seen any of his team, nor had he uncovered any clue about who was behind this increasingly elaborate game. He had found a bottle of red wine, a brick of romano cheese, a head of garlic, two red bell peppers, and a box of chocolate-covered grasshoppers. The last discovery was in the break room, an exquisitely decorated cake. It bore the message, "Happy Birthday, Bug Man."

Hearing a noise behind him, Grissom turned to see the whole team smiling at him through the glass wall. Sara led the way as they entered the room. She walked up to him and gave him a hug. Grinning her brightest, she said, "It was my idea. It's your 50th, and that's a mile-stone. Your friends want to celebrate it with you."

He was touched at the gesture, but also a little confused, "Thank you. But may I ask, why all the groceries?"

"They're so I can make you a pasta dinner later. For now, we have the cake, and some of Greg's gourmet coffee."

Greg took the chance to describe the wonderful - to him - qualities of the coffee he had chosen for the festivities, but no one listened. Catherine interrupted Greg's long-winded oratory. "Gil, there's more. We all chipped in for this." She handed him a gift bag that had been hidden behind the couch.

"Thanks, Cath. Um, everybody." The gift was a very old, leather-bound volume of Shakespeare's comedies. "Thank you all. This is a wonderful gift. I wasn't expecting ..." He quickly turned away to hide the sudden swelling of emotion he was feeling.

Sara started singing, capturing everyone's attention. Warrick moved beside her, and began to sing in harmony with her. They hadn't rehearsed, but it was the best version of "Happy Birthday" that anyone had ever heard. They received a round of applause.

Catherine cut the cake, and drafted Nick to hand out the slices, starting with Grissom. Greg and Sara passed around cups of coffee, and the party was in full swing. Word had spread to the various lab techs and soon they began to drop in to share the fun..

"Thank you, Sara." Grissom spoke quietly, "I haven't had a birthday party since grade school. But, this has been fun." He glanced around, then continued, "So, you mentioned a pasta dinner?"

"Tomorrow before work, my place."

"I'll be there."

"How long have you been planning this? And how did you manage to keep it secret?"

Sara laughed. "First, a couple weeks ago. Second, the plans were never discussed here in the lab."

He smiled at her, "It's scary how well you know me. You left that tomato on my desk; one object, utterly harmless, but completely without context. You knew I wouldn't be able to resist."

"Yeah, I knew it would drive you crazy." She giggled.

Just then, Warrick turned on some music. Greg and Nick were rearranging the furniture, creating a space for dancing. People started to dance. Grissom turned to Sara, and saw her watching the dancers. "Um, Sara, I'm not much of a dancer, but I'll certainly try." He led her to the floor. He was a better dancer than he thought.

Grissom got a bit bolder and led Sara in some intricate dance moves. He twirled her, and - in a very daring move - he dipped her. But, just at the bottom of the dip, the point where she was completely off-balance and dependent on him for support, Greg bumped into him. Grissom lost his balance; he and Sara fell to the floor. Unfortunately, he landed with his face in a piece of cake. A nervous hush fell over the room. He pulled himself up, and graciously assisted Sara in regaining her feet. Then, the absurdity of the situation struck him, and he began to laugh out loud.

Sara was very relieved that Grissom wasn't embarrassed. She chuckled as he picked debris from his beard.