No pairing, although there's a brief mention of GS UST

After a hard night's work, what is Grissom's only consolation?

I published this story a while ago, but after Mea Culpa it's become relevant. I did a little revision of the text and added part two.

I've been Grissom's pal for years. Yeah, believe it or not, he has a friend. Me.

I've been observing him lately… and I think he's reaching a breaking point.

For instance, the shift has barely started and he's already showing signs of weariness. He's sitting behind his desk, facing two of his colleagues: Nick Stokes (who's had the nerve to say, 'I'm not you, Grissom') and Sara Sidle, (who said, 'I wish I were like you; I wish I didn't feel anything').

(As you can see, I never forget when someone hurts Grissom. I'm vindictive, so you better be careful…)

Nick and Sara are standing apart and the tension between them is almost palpable.

"So, Nick-" Grissom says and Nick continues his explanation right away.

"I told the victim's father that his son had been killed during the robbery-"

"Actually," interrupts Sara, "what you told him was that his son had been killed while trying to stop the perps from escaping -"

"He was killed by the perps as he came out of the store, Sara, it's a fair assumption."

"Nick, I've told you not to assume-" Grissom says tiredly.

"Hey, Grissom you weren't there." He interrupts, "You didn't see the pain in this guy's eyes. His son was dead, and the cops weren't giving him any information… All I did was to lessen his pain." He glances at Sara, "I gave him a little sympathy, because we're not machines processing data. We're human beings…"

"But you gave away information about the case-"

These two grown people are acting like bickering siblings and Grissom watches and listens until he finally interrupts and asks them to please leave and process the evidence as soon as possible.

Grissom sighs after they leave.

Before he can read the first report, Catherine Willows (who said 'You've turned into a lousy leader, Grissom') came in and told him that she wouldn't hand her current case, a big robbery at the Rampart, to Warrick.

"Catherine, there's a conflict of interests here. You're related to the casino's owner-"

She leans on his desk.

"Are you questioning my ethics, Grissom?"

"I'm trying to be practical, Catherine. If this case goes to court, your evidence might be put into question simply because you're his daughter."

"Grissom," She says and she leans on his desk, "You should know that the possibility of Sam worrying over a simple robbery is remote."

"It's not a simple robbery, Catherine-"

"Grissom," she softens her tone, "Look; I really want to show him that I'll always do my job regardless of who he is."

He relents.

"All right, do it." He says, and she turns. "Just please document everything-" he adds, and that makes her stop.

"I know how to do my job, Grissom." She says curtly and leaves.

Grissom sighs… and I think I know what he's thinking of.

Barely a minute later, Eckley comes in and sits on a corner of Grissom's desk.

"Willows was giving you a peep show again, huh?"

Grissom continues reading.

"She sure grabs one's attention with those skimpy tops of hers." Eckley muses aloud, "She gets close to a guy, opens her mouth but doesn't say anything, shows off her tits and waits … and if a guy so much as peeks, she turns into Loretta Bobbitt-"

"Conrad?" Grissom interrupts, "Is there something I can do for you?"

"Actually, no. But I can do something for you. In about ten minutes there'll be a press conference held by Donny Charles' father-"

"Donny Charles, the kid who got killed during a robbery-"

"Yes. As you know, I'm friendly with some members of the press," he pauses, "Right? Well, according to my sources, Mr. Charles is going to praise CSI for their human approach and for their offer to solve the case in twenty four hours. Which might sound like a nice advertisement, but it's not. The day shift doesn't want to be included, thank you very much."

"Damn." Mutters Grissom, reaching for his phone.

"What is it with Stokes, Gil? Can't he keep his mouth shut?"

"I'll talk to the DA-" Grissom says calmly, "Thanks for the tip, Conrad"

Eckley leaves, and Grissom spends the next ten minutes kissing some asses in order to stop the conference…

And I know what Grissom is thinking of.

Later, Greg enters the office.

"Here are the results you asked for, boss." he says, waving a sheet of paper, "Donny Charles definitely was one of the assailants. The blood on his knuckles proves that he hit Mr. Jones, the store owner. Mr. Jones fought back and managed to take off Donny's ski mask; the other perps panicked and shot them both. And before you ask, I'm not assuming," he adds, "Everything was recorded by the security camera. Unfortunately for them, but luckily for us. Archie will bring you his report-"

"Uh, huh. Thanks, Greg."

"Nick couldn't believe it." Greg said, shaking his head, "But Archie did a great job with that security tape-"

"All right, Greg." Grissom interrupts. "By the way," he glares, "the Sheriff called me to complain; he says he caught you reading comic books."

"Jeeze, Grissom, what's his problem? They are harmless-"

"Get them out of the lab."

"But Grissom-"

"Out, Greg. Tonight." He said firmly. "Ok?"

"Yes, Sir." he says finally and turns to leave, only to meet Nick by the door.

Nick waits until Greg's out of sight to talk.

"Grissom, I'm sorry, man-"

"Nick, you shouldn't have talked to anybody," he interrupts, "You hadn't even looked into the evidence-"

"I know, but-"

"Mr. Charles' lawyer says he might sue CSI for the pain and suffering we've caused to his client-"

"I just wanted to give him some consolation. I just can't be like you, man."

"Nick," he says, with supreme patience, "I don't care if you're like me or not. But right now, being like you might cost us a million dollars."

"I'm sorry," Nick gulps, "I'm just…"

And he goes on with the apologies, but Grissom has already blocked him out. He's just thinking… thinking…and glancing at me.

He's so concentrated on his task that he doesn't realize Sara has entered his office until she's standing in front of him. He almost jumps. No wonder; someone should tell her that black is not her color.

"…And yet you gave him the promotion." She says quietly.

Grissom puts his pen down and removes his glasses.

"Yes, I did."

"Are you happy?" she asks quietly.

"I never aspire to happiness, Sara." He says, "Life is less disappointing that way."

She looks hurt.

"I have aspired to happiness," she whispers, "I would have shared it with you."

And, as always, Grissom doesn't react the way she hopes.

She mutters a 'see you around' and leaves… and he watches her go. Wistfully. As always.

What the hell has happened to these two? They used to have the greatest conversations; witty, flirty, sweet-

I look at Grissom and realize that I don't know what he's thinking of.

Well, the shift is about to end, and there comes Ms. Willows. She's pissed. Maybe it's the tight pants she's poured into. I don't think anyone would be comfortable in them.

"Sam Braun was present during my investigation" she states. "I'm telling you first, so you don't get the news from the cops."

"You didn't remove him from the scene?" Grissom can't help it; he's truly amazed.

"He wanted to talk about Lindsay-"

"Because he 'cares' about her, Catherine?" he challenged, "Or because he wanted to make sure that your evidence gets thrown out of court?"

She scoffs.

"You know Grissom, sometimes I'd like to be like you; you sit there behind your big desk, worrying only about ant farms and worms, while the rest of us have to deal with real life. Real life, Grissom; messy and imperfect. You can shut out people in your life, but I can't. He's my father-"

Grissom's expression is blank, but I know him; he's hurt and pissed by her words. He simply looks at her (in the eye, always; he's not Eckley).

"Catherine, is the case safe?" he interrupts her at last.

"Yes, it is."

"Fine. Keep me posted then."

When she leaves, he looks in my direction, but before he can say anything, he gets a phone call. He listens for a moment

"Yes Jonathan, she's just told me-" he listens for a moment; (I'm guessing it's Jonathan Silver, the DA. "I will personally vouch for any of my colleagues' honesty, Jonathan. If she says she didn't let Mr. Braun come near the evidence that she collected-" he pauses again, since he was rudely interrupted by the DA. He closes his eyes and sighs, "Why can't we use that evidence-?" but he knows the answer. Braun's conversation with Catherine tainted it. "I allowed her to go to the Rampart." He says, "It was my decision, Jonathan." He listens for a moment, "Yes. I understand." He finishes and then he quietly puts the phone down.

He looks at me.

"Hey." He says, and he gets up.

He isn't managing his stress the way he used to and it worries me. Another year like this will kill this sensitive man, unless he learns how to manage this bunch of people he loves as the family he's never had.

He approaches me and reaches into my crystal bowl.

I know what he's going to say; he's been thinking about it all night.

"Hey," he says, gently petting me, "If things around here get ever too difficult, can I count on you to put an end to my misery?"

I'd never do that. But I pat his hand reassuringly with my front limbs.

He smiles and relaxes.

"Nice Arachnid" he says fondly.


Thank you for reviewing… coming up: the aftermath of Mea Culpa