What horrors will the poor spider witness now?
Note: I shamelessly took chapter two from my story "The Winner takes it all" and adapted it here.
Doctor Garcia brought me back on the first week of March.
He didn't immediately hand me back to Grissom, though. First he wanted to make sure that my human understoodhow sick I had been. According to him, my recoverywas due to the fact that I had been surrounded by living creatures.
"In fact," he said, "She became highly active once she found herself surrounded by my assistants and by other spiders."
Well, yeah. As soon as I saw my surroundings I frantically tried to dig my way to freedom. I mean, it was awful! Doctor Garcia put me in a crystal bowl, one of the many that he keeps at his clinic. I was surrounded by dozens of girls who looked like me, something that would have delighted others, but not me. I was unnerved by their presence; I just couldn't relate to them. I mean, once you've lived with a human, you tend to set yourself apart. I might look like them and I might understand their language, but I don't share their interests anymore. I mean, all they talked about was feeding and mating, feeding and mating…
And don't ask me about Dr. Garcia's assistants! All I can say is that they made me crave my human's company -his face, his voice, his opera tapes… and the tasty flies he picks up for me, of course.
However, once I realized that I'd get out sooner if I cooperated with Dr. Garcia, I calmed down. I ate well, I pretended to enjoy the awful music those snot-nosed kids played, and I didn't pick up any fights, not even when those brats tried to alleviate their boredom by putting me inside someone else's cage.
And, miracle of miracles, I learned to control myself whenever the word 'dinner' was uttered in my presence.
And now I was on Grissom's desk at last, and I was eagerly waiting for him to pick me up and pet me. But his attention was solely on Dr. Garcia.
"Doctor Grissom," my vet said solemnly, "I believe she's been depressed by the lonely environment you provided for her."
Oh, the look of panic on Grissom's face when he heard this was priceless! He was afraid that the doctor would take me away from him! Awwww.
He gulped before asking,
"Do you think she got sick because I kept her in my office?"
"Couldn't you keep her somewhere else, Doctor?" he asked, and then he gestured at the dead specimens that adorned Grissom's bookcases, "I believe she became sick when she started mimicking the dead creatures you've surrounded her with."
Oh, pu-leeeze! Keep your psychobabble to yourself, doc.
But to my utter surprise, Grissom nodded gravely.
"I'll put up a fish bowl-"
"What she needs is constant human presence, Dr. Grissom. I'm afraid that with you constantly gone…"
"You don't expect me to return her to the zoo, do you?" Grissom asked indignantly, "Do you remember how traumatized she was?"
Oh, yeah. That was a terrible period for me. The guy who was in charge over there was a real psycho!
"I won't take her back." Grissom said firmly, "If she needs to see people, I'll make sure she does, but under my own terms."
And that's why I'm currently living in the break room, sharing space with the few humans who dare to enter now that I'm here. Actually, they all should ignore me, since I'm not precisely in their faces- I'm on the top shelf, well away from the snacks and the fridge. If they don't want to look at me, then they shouldn't look up. But I guess they can't help it. They look up and then they make a big deal out of my innocent presence. They even wrinkle their noses, as if I smelled!
But don't think for a minute that Grissom simply put my crystal bowl up here. Oh, no. I'm actually protected by a thick sheet of unbreakable glass, and Grissom's installed a nanny cam ostensibly to monitor my progress. Actually, he put it there as a message: Whoever touches me or fiddles with my home, will be in trouble. People weren't happy with this, however, and Grissom compromised: To avoid any complaints about 'invasion of privacy,' he removed the microphone. But the camera stayed. That means he can see if anyone tries to get to me, but he can't hear what they say about me or about him.
Female Trace Technician: "That creep!"
Male Trace Technician: "Aw, the spider's not so bad."
Female Trace Technician: "I'm talking about Dr. Grissom! He's gone just too far this time! What's next, a nanny cam in the bathroom?"
Same Female Trace Technician: "That creep just stares at me as if I were a piece of meat!"
Same male Trace Technician: "Who, Grissom?"
Female Trace Technician: "Nah, not him. The spider. Look at it."
Hey, give me a break, girl. What else can I do? It's not like I can close my eyes, anyway!
Ah, humans. About the only human I really like to look at –apart from my Grissom- is Greg. He's got spiky hair like me.
I've seen Sophia, (and notice that I don't gag as I mention her name!) Just as I suspected, all that talk about leaving was a complete lie. And they went to dinner, by the way. Just a couple of nights ago, she made a reference to it, but since Grissom merely nodded, I'm not really worried. It was not a big deal for him and that's what matters.
But this Sophia is really unbelievable. I mean, who does she think she's fooling? She's a chameleon, that's what she is. And chameleons I know very well. She blends in; she acts tough when Brass is around, she acts all feminist-like when she talks to Sara or Catherine; and she even talks about spiders when she's with Grissom! Oh, please, can't anybody see that she's a big fraud?
Apparently, nobody sees that she's a big fraud.
I'll tell you all about it, as soon as I recover. Ough. I managed to keep my food down, but only because if I don't, Dr. Garcia will take me away from Grissom again. But oh, my eyes… Oh, what they've seen…
Don't these humans have any sense left?
It all started early today: I had been taking a nap when the sound of humans talking woke me up. I looked down and saw Sophia sitting at the table, holding Warrick and Nick's rapt attention. Before I could make sense of what she was saying, Catherine burst into the break room and stared at the three of them with an 'oh, shit' expression on her face.
She must have run to get here; she was disheveled and sweaty, and it took her a while to get her breath back.
"Nick?" she called out when she recovered, "Warrick?"
The guys barely nodded at her and turned their attention back to Sophia.
"So, the evidence was behind the CD boxes!" Nick said, "What made you look there?"
"Well," Sophia said, shaking her long mane, "I have to confess that I looked merely because it was a jazz collection. I love jazz."
"You do?" Warrick asked, perking up
"Oh, yes." she said dreamily. "Jazz is food for the soul."
Catherine rolled her eyes impatiently.
"By the way," Sophia said, gazing at Warrick, "I heard that you play the piano. Have you ever gone to the Oasis Jazz Bar on karaoke night?"
"Uh, no. You?"
"Every Friday." She nodded, "I always sing a couple of songs before coming here."
"You sing?" Warrick asked, surprised and delighted, whereas Catherine looked like she was going to throw up.
I knew how she felt.
"Great!" Warrick was saying, "I'll be there next Friday, then. We'll jam, me and you-"
"Warrick?" Catherine called out sweetly.
"Uh?" he reluctantly turned his gaze away from Sophia. "Yes, Boss?"
"Did you check the information that Brass gave you?"
"Oh." he hesitated, "No. I was going to- Yeah. Well." he looked back longingly at Sophia, and then rose and left.
Catherine kept her eyes on Warrick until the man was out of sight.
And out of danger, I suppose.
But Catherine's job wasn't over yet; when she turned she realized that Nick was completely enthralled by Sophia, who was talking about Texas –and with a Texan accent! Oh, I can't believe this! She really is a chameleon! Nick was hanging on to her every word, until-
"Nick," Catherine said. "NICK!" she repeated.
"Uh?" he looked around.
"Nick," Catherine said, waving a hand to get his attention, "The case I assigned you won't solve itself, is it?"
"Uh." he blinked, "Yeah. I mean -no." he mumbled. He looked longingly at Sophia, "Well. See ya later."
"Sure, hon." She said amiably.
After Nick left, there was an uncomfortable silence that Sophia herself broke.
"So, Catherine. I heard you used to be a dancer."
"Yeah?" Catherine belligerently stuck out her jaw. "So?"
"I was just wondering-" Sophia shrugged, "Since you don't seem to have any trouble with your joints-"
Catherine looked bewildered.
"What do you mean?"
"Well," Sophia said, "It's just that I get little pains and aches now and then, you know. It's been years since I danced, but I'm still paying the price. I was wondering if you might know of some liniment I could use-"
"You…You used to dance, too?"
"Oh, yeah." Sophia nodded, "I used to take it all off in New York."
Oh, come on! What's she going to reveal next? Wooden legs like Doctor Robbins'? A rebellious daughter like Brass'?
Surely, Catherine wouldn't believe this bullshit!
To my utter surprise, Catherine slowly took a seat next to Sophia.
"So, Catherine," Sophia said –and there was a gleam of triumph in her eyes as she asked, "Wanna trade horror stories about the old days?"
"Well…" Catherine hesitated, "Sure." she said.
Is Sophia taking control over the lab, or what? Oh, I'm so worried- and nauseous.
Ooooh, boy! I'm happy, happy, happy.
It seems that Sophia has gone too far. Ha!
I'd been worried. For a couple of days, she'd been acting like some sort of queen holding court, while the other CSI's sat around her, listening as she told them how hard it had been her life as Eckley's right hand.
Only Sara voiced her skepticism:
"You worked almost four years with him," she said, "If he was so bad, why didn't you just requesta transfer?"
Yep, nice question, Sara.
Unfortunately, Warrick didn't give her a chance to answer.
"How have you been holding up?" he asked, "Everybody knows you should be in charge of the day shift. Many thought you would simply quit."
"I almost did," she said, "but Gil asked me to stay, and after he took me to dinner I thought 'why not' ?"
Sara was pouring herself a cup of coffee and her expression of pain was only witnessed by me, but the others immediately glanced at each other, as if they knew that Sophia's words might hurt her.
Sophia was apparently unaware of this; she started telling them how Grissom had taken her to La Lumière, and then she started describing the food.
After a moment of silence, Greg reacted.
"That was nice of Grissom," he said, "But that's what he always does, Sophia." He said dismissively. He cleared his throat and added, "I mean, when I threatened to quit, Grissom arranged for me to meet my favorite grunge group." He smiled smugly, "Poor Grissom; he was so worried that his DNA expert would quit, he even endured a couple of hours backstage..."
Uh? I didn't know that. Apparently, the others didn't know either. They looked at Greg with surprise written on their faces, until Nick smiled.
"Hum, that's true," Nick said. He paused, as if to put his thoughts in order, and then he added, "When I said I wanted to go back to Texas two years ago, Grissom got me tickets for a basketball game."
"A basketball game?" Sophia asked with a dismissive smile.
"Yeah. Remember the John Cadwell farewell tour?"
"The one that got sold out in just four hours?" Warrick asked admiringly, "Grissom got you tickets?"
"Yeah. The poor guy must have spent hundreds for them." Nick smiled smugly.
I was listening to this and wondering why I had never heard anything about Nick wanting to leave or about Grissom getting tickets for him. Something weird was going on-
"Well, that's nothing," Catherine said abruptly.
"Oh?" Sophia narrowed her eyes suspiciously, "Don't tell me you tried to leave too."
"Yes." She nodded eagerly, "Yep." She added, "It wasn't Gil's fault," she said, deliberately emphasizing Grissom's first name, maybe to remind Sophia that she had known Grissom for a longer time, "I, hum. I was having trouble with my ex-husband, Eddie-"
I wish I were able to roll my eyes. Catherine never misses a chance to talk about herself and her troubled life. I tuned her out for a moment.
"-so," she said in the end, "He sent me to Génétique Spa," She smiled smugly, "the poor guy was soooo worried about me leaving the lab, that he spent thousands-"
"Thousands?" asked Sophia.
"Oh, yeah. Génétique isn't cheap." Catherine said. "But he did it, to show me how important I was. But then he's always doing things like that."
By the end of Catherine's tale, I began to understand. They were all lying. They simply didn't want Sophia to think she was that special. And she got the message. She turned to Warrick and sure enough, he had a tale to tell too.
"Years ago," he said, "I was having second thoughts about staying in Las Vegas -you know, because of my gambling problem. But Griss convinced me to face my problems instead of running away from them."
Finally, someone had told the truth.
But the truth wasn't enough, and he had to improvise.
"And… well…" he mumbled, as if he didn't know what else to say, "About that time Ray Charles came to town, and…"
Sophia looked skeptically at him.
"And Grissom got you tickets." She finished.
"Yep." He nodded.
Sophia smiled faintly. She looked at them, one by one; I wonder if she realized that, while she had held their attention and even their admiration… she had never become one of them. She opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, Sara walked past them towards the door.
"What about you, Sara?" Sophia said, "Did you ever thought of leaving the lab?"
Sara stopped. She didn't turn.
"No." she said firmly.
And she left.
I waved madly at my human, and he smiled at me. He was bringing food and company, at last. I like this time of the day. He quietly and efficiently cleans my home and then he gets me a fresh ration of food. Then, after I've devoured the flies, he pats my head.
It's a relaxing moment for both of us and he always sighs as the tension drains away. Yep, there's no better therapy than gently patting the slightly prickly head of a spider.
We were contentedly sharing a quiet moment, when there was a noise behind his back.
Sara was standing by the door.
"How is your spider doing?" she asked as she entered the room.
"She's getting better. Apparently, she likes being here."
Sara smiled faintly.
"You do realize that people are getting nervous, right?"
"Yeah." He admitted, "I heard people aren't taking as many coffee breaks as before." He glanced at me, "I'm going to remove her in a day or two, but first I have to make a few changes in my office. I'm going to replacemy specimens with nicer objects. A plant or two, maybe-"
Uh, oh. The word 'plant' seemed to have an odd effect on her. It apparently reminded her of something unpleasant, because suddenly her smile turned bitter.
"By the way…" she said, picking up the coffee pot, "We had a very interesting conversation today."
"Who?" he asked distractedly. He was fiddling with the nanny cam and not looking at her. She poured a cup of coffee and took it to the table in the middle of the room. She sat.
"Well… Catherine, Nick, Warrick, Greg, Sophia, and me."
"We were talking about the job, and about how some of us have, at one time or another, threatened to leave."
He froze, but only for a couple of seconds.
He turned and faced her.
"It seems everybody had a tale to tell." She added.
"Really?" he asked noncommittally.
She looked at him, and it seemed to me that she was making an effort not to be emotional… but I could see a trace of sadness in her eyes. Maybe she knew, because she lowered her gaze to pick up her cup. By the time she had taken a sip of her coffee, she had recovered her cool.
"Yeah," she said, trying for a light tone, "They all mentioned how you convinced them to stay by doing things –nice things- for them. For instance, you got basketball tickets for Nick-"
"And you sent Catherine to Génétique Spa-" she added.
"And you helped Greg meet his favorite grunge group."
Grissom looked at her as if she had spoken Chinese. Actually, he might have understood Chinese better.
"Génétique?" he repeated, completely bewildered, "Grunge?"
"Yeah," she nodded, the bitter smile back on her lips, "You also took Warrick to see Ray Charles." She said. And then, she slowly added, "And, of course, you took Sophia to dine at La Lumière in order to convince her to stay."
If Grissom had tried to deny this, he would have failed miserably. Guilt was clearly written on his face; he looked like a kid trapped with his hands in the cookie jar.
For a moment, I thought that Sara was going to cry. The sadness in her eyes and the way her lips turned down at the corners were a sure sign.
And then suddenly, I realized that she wasn't sad; she was simply getting mad.
"I can't believe it, you know? I mean, you faced these people and you gave them things and you took them to places, and you did it all personally, whereas with me, you didn't even bother to talk. You sent me a plant- a plant that was delivered by a guy who smelled of marijuana and didn't even type my name correctly on the card, for God's sake! He wrote 'To: Sana Didle From: Brisom' Sana Didle! Can you believe it?"
Uh, Sara? I waved like crazy, hoping she would look at me, but of course her eyes were on him. I was only trying to convey a message to her, 'Tone it down, girl. Grissom doesn't know how to handle hysterics.'
"And the worse part," she added angrily, "the pathetic part is that I was happy to get it!" she looked at him, "But that's nothing new, right? I've always been happy to get any little crumb of attention you throw my way-"
Grissom was clearly uncomfortable.
"Sara-" he started.
"I'm not saying that the orchid was cheap." She interrupted, "It wasn't. Actually, it's a very valuable, delicate orchid; in fact, she's so delicate that I hire a nanny for her whenever I can't go home to water her and feed her, and take her to the garden. Ms. Priss can't survive without at least two daily hours of sunlight, but if she gets more than two then she droops and practically goes into a comma until I revive her with a few drops of Evian water and vitamin pills that a friend of mine smuggles from Canada-" her voice trailed off when she noticed that Grissom was trying hard not to smile.
"You're laughing at me." She accused.
"Ms Priss?" he asked. "You gave her a name?"
She smiled despite herself, but only briefly. She was deeply hurt and this time she wasn't going to back down.
"Damn, it, Grissom." She shook her head, and I could see that sadness was slowly replacing her anger, "I used to think I was special to you." she took a deep breath, "I accepted the fact that you couldn't accept my invitation to…" she gulped, "I understood that as a coworker, you'd never…" she stopped again. "But now I find out that you took her to dinner...And not only that;" She added, "I've also found out that you did all those things for the guys and for Catherine-"
Ha! Like she cared about that! It was the dinner invitation that had needled her badly.
"Sara," he said gently, "I never sent Catherine to Génétique Spa."
"She said you did." She insisted.
"I don't know why she said that." He shrugged, "But we can ask her if you want. And I didn't get any tickets for Nick and Warrick." He shook his head in confusion, "None of them has even said anything about leaving the lab."
"They said they did." Sara frowned. "When Sophia saidshe tried to quit, each of them said they had tried, too." She looked up, "Do you think they were bluffing?"
"I don't know." He said honestly. "All I know is that they never told me anything."
Sara looked at him like she really wanted to believe this.
And then her eyes brightened up,
"Then… that means you never took Sophia to dinner-"
I looked at Grissom, fervently praying: Don't say it, Grissom; don't say it, don't say it, don't-
"Uh," he said, "actually, I did take her to La Lumière."
NOOOOOOO! No, you big dummy! This is NOT the time to tell the truth!
My God, why is my human so dense, sometimes?
Crushed, Sara leant back on her seat.
"Sara," He said, "it was just dinner."
She nodded, looking at him. Then she picked up her cup and took a sip. Her hand was trembling a little.
"Look…I couldn't let her go, for a number of reasons." He explained, "First, I feel guilty about her losing her promotion, and I don't want her to lose seniority by going to some other lab. Then there's the fact that Eckley expects me to fail as Supervisor and I don't want to give him that satisfaction. And… I need Sophia to take over during the last weekend of March. I'm taking a few days off."
Sara smiled bitterly.
"You're leaving her in charge of the lab?"
I'll never understand why Grissom can't lie as easily as other guys can.
By Sara's expression, being rejected as a CSI was as bad as being rejected as a woman.
"I could have covered up for you." she said.
"Sara, I couldn't ask you. You have the weekend off, remember? It's the first you get since the year began-"
"I don't want the weekend off!" she retorted, "I didn't ask for it! What the hell am I supposed to do with all that free time?"
"You could travel," he suggested.
"I don't want to travel-"
"Well, it's too late to say no." he said, "I've already made plans."
She cautiously put the cup back on the table.
"Yeah." He said matter-of-factly. "I thought you'd like to spend a weekend in San Francisco." He smiled, "I got you a package. Airplane ticket, hotel room-"
"I have the brochures in my desk." He added.
"But…" she hesitated, "But why?"
"Why not?" he replied, smiling.
"I haven't threatened to quit-" she said. "You didn't have to do this."
"I know you don't want to quit, Sara," he nodded reassuringly; "I just wanted to do something nice for you."
They were silent for a moment.
"I do appreciate this, Grissom-" she said, staring at the cup that she was holding between her hands, "But if this is some sort of consolation prize-"
"No," he said softly. "No, it's not."
Grissom looked at her. I knew the expression on his face. He was trying to say something that was very difficult-
"Then, why…?" she prompted.
"I thought we could spend some time together," he said, "and talk."
She looked questioningly at him.
"Some time together?" she asked.
"I'm going to San Francisco, too." he explained, "I just thought…" he started.
"Yes?" she prompted gently.
"That's where we met, Sara." He explained, "I remember how happy we were there, and… After all the mistakes I've made during these past five years-" he paused, "I thought that if we went back, we'd have a chance…" he gulped, "to start over."
He looked at her, waiting for her reaction.
"And you're leaving the lab for a whole weekend?" she smiled faintly.
"Yes." He said.
"You're leaving the lab in the hands of a woman who might be Eckley's ally." She warned.
Grissom smiled, showing off blindingly white, slightly crooked teeth.
"If they are allies, then they are only two." He said, "We are more, aren't we?" he asked, "Think of what Catherine and the guys did. They banded together." She smiled, and Grissom felt more confident. "You're coming to San Francisco, then?"
Her smile was sweet.
"How could I say no?" She asked. And then she surprised me by adding, "But what about your spider?"
Aw, how sweet…
"Oh, it's ok," Grissom said carelessly, "Sophia can take care of her."
Whaaaaaat? Oh, no, no, no, no.
I started waving at Grissom again, demanding his attention.
"Why don't we take her to my place?" Sara said, "Ms Priss' nanny can take care of her at the same time."
"Really? She won't mind?"
"She loves exotic creatures," Sara said.
Aw…I've always liked this girl.