TITLE: Damned Are They Who Refuse to See
AUTHOR: Gomey (grissomsgnomeyahoo.com)
ARCHIVE: Anywhere, just let me know so I can brag...hehe.
RATING: Strong R
DISCLAIMER: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.
SUMMARY: Don't lose sight of the things that matter...
NOTES: This is slightly darker than my other fics, but I'm trying to experiment a bit. I tried to be as scientifically correct as possible, so any errors are my own fault.
"It's all clear." The guard stepped aside, allowing the two CSIs to enter the bright hallway of Fremco Laboratories.
"What a waste of energy." Catherine Willows noted, her eyes travelling the rows of lights, fixed to the ceiling.
Gil Grissom glanced at his partner, then up to the ceiling. "Actually, they're halogen," he shrugged, "saves more energy."
"Doesn't mean they can keep it running twenty-four hours a day." She reasoned, stopping in front of the laboratory door. Catherine grimaced, "uh, you smell that?"
"Decomposition in its finest form?" Gil offered, cocking his head to the side. He snapped a pair of gloves on, and listened to Catherine echo the same motions. Bending down, he opened his kit and retrieved some powder and a fingerprint brush.
Catherine watched him intently, observing his technique. One thing she had learnt on the job was that no one was above learning; everyday, she would pick up another method of examination, or understand a concept to a higher degree. It was one of the reasons why she always jumped at the occasion to work with her supervisor and long-time friend: he would never deny her a chance to become even more educated. Opening up her own kit, she took out a piece of tape, and placed it over the area, peeling back a fingerprint. "Don't know how valid it is, it's just a partial." She logged the evidence, and tucked it into the case. "Besides, it's an office," she glanced around the hallway, her eyes taking in a multitude of doors, "pretty public place."
Gil nodded, not arguing with her logic. Closing his kit, he reached for the door and gently swung it open. Clicking on his flashlight, he quickly surveyed the scene before stepping into the office.
"Professor John Frempton – Fremco Laboratories, owner no doubt." Catherine picked up the name plate that lay on the desk. She rounded the corner and shook her head.
"How bad?" Gil asked, coming around the other side.
"Looks like he bled out." She observed the immediate surroundings. "All over his lab coat, pants, blood splatter on the wall and floor." She glanced up at her supervisor. "I think he was bludgeoned to death." She swabbed some blood from the pool that lay still, surrounding the victim in a red liquid casket.
"Hey guys." David Phillips stepped in, and then stepped back out of the room. "Oh, I don't deal well with blood." He held a handkerchief to his nose and mouth.
Gil motioned the body. "We need a liver temp, and then you can take him back to Robbins." He instructed the young pathologist.
David nodded and bent down beside Gil, taking out the thermometer. Pressing it into a specific place in the abdomen, he read the deceased's liver temperature. "It's seventy-five degrees." He looked at the temperature again. "That's a big drop – there's no decomposition –"
"- No decomp?" Catherine interrupted. "Then what was that smell?" Her face scrunched up slightly, she questioned both men.
"Seventy-five degrees..." Gil repeated, deep in thought. "Doesn't that seem," he frowned, "comfortable, to you?" It was a rhetorical question, and David shared a look with Catherine.
"I guess." David shrugged.
"He's only been dead less than two hours." Gil agreed. "Alger mortis – Latin for 'cold death', where the body temperature falls, but to the surrounding room temperature." He stood up, and searched the room, finally finding the object of his desire. He pointed to a small digital thermometer fastened to the wall, beside the door. "Eighty-five degrees."
"So if he's been dead for two hours, then why is the smell of a decomposing body in the air?" Catherine questioned again, searching the room. She walked up to a seemingly hidden closet, wallpapered over with only the door- handle as a hint to its existence. Opening the door slowly, she came into contact with a body. "Oh God!" She screamed, her arms flailing as she felt herself falling back.
"Cath!" Gil rushed to her side, tipping the body over and helping her to her feet. "You okay?" He asked, lowering his head slightly to catch glimpse of expression. "It's okay." He held on to her forearm, still trying to read her state.
"I'm fine." She batted his hand away, "I'm just..." She let out a shiver, and wrapped her arms around her slender frame.
Gil took off his glove, and brought his hand to cup her cheek. "Do you want to go sit-down or take some air?" He asked quietly, watching David cart the body away before returning his attention back to the strawberry-blond in front of him.
Catherine closed her eyes, leaning into his touch. "I'm okay..." She glanced back at the body and then turned around abruptly. "I'm going to take a breather." She all-but ran out the door.
Gil closed his eyes sadly, hearing her heave and empty her stomach in the hallway. "I'm sure the janitor won't mind." He called out to her, slowly making his way around the room. He smiled when moments later, a "shut up" danced its way to his ears. Letting out a chuckle, he heard water running from hallway and guessed his partner's current status. Allowing her to regain her composure, he decided to search the office by himself.
Catherine leaned against the wall, half shuddering and half cursing herself for her temporary weakness. She hadn't been physically effected at a scene since her rookie year, and she often prided her control when the rest were revisiting their last meal. Wiping an errant repercussive tear away, she closed her eyes, trying to calm her erratic heart beat.
Gil stepped up to a large shelving unit, placed several inches in front of the wall. His eyes traveled the various vials of liquids, each identified by their scientific abbreviations. Specimens lay suspended in jars, and stacks of paper cluttered several other shelves. Rocks and minerals proudly stood ground beside awards for various achievements in the scientific realm. His eyes shot up upon hearing a noise, almost like a metal-on-metal 'clink'. Nearing the end of the metallic unit, he narrowed his eyes, concentrating not on the shadows in the darkened room, but on the noise that the shadows might have been making.
Gil jumped and turned around, his hand fumbling for his service gun. Placing a hand over his heart, he shook his head. "David..."
"Careful Grissom – you were about to trip over that shoe." David pointed to Gil's feet, where a random shoe lay partly wedged between the wall and the shelving unit, half sticking out.
"Thanks, could be the vic's." Gil nodded and watched the young coroner place the body on a cart.
"Man, what a smell, huh?" David attempted to make conversation. "I'd say, advanced level of decomposition....at least a month or so. Skin's almost worn off, the bones here," he pointed to a protruding bone near the knee, "have yellowed tremendously, and I would assume this to be the beginnings of decay." He began to push the body out of the office. "Man, who would keep a decomposing body in there?!" He asked himself.
Gil shrugged, eyeing the make-shift tomb. "I guess we all have skeletons in our closet." He raised his eyebrow, giving a half-grin to David, who obviously enjoyed his humour. After a few moments of pondering, Gil donned another pair of gloves and bent down to reach the stray footwear. Feeling the tip of the shoe, the part in sight, he noted the steel-toed shell that the shoe boasted. Grabbing the camera Catherine had been using earlier to acquire pictures of the victim, he snapped a few of the shoe's placement and placed the camera back near the desk. Kneeling down, he attempted to lift the shoe.
Catherine shuddered again, having just watched David cart the DB away. She shook her head, readying herself to join her supervisor back in the room when a loud crash sounded from the crime scene. Jumping to her feet, she ran to the room, only to be brutally knocked to the side by a masked figure, who proceeded to flee the scene. She considered giving chase, but her gut instructed her to check on Gil.
"Oh God! Gil!" She ran into the room, trying desperately to remove the metal shelving unit off his body. "Say something!" She pleaded, kicking pieces of glass and broken jars out of the way.
"Cath?" His voice was soft, pained. "Cath...I can't see..." His hand flailed blindly, aching to come into contact with the safety of her body. "What happened?" He cringed, hearing the crunch of glass beneath his hand. He felt her arms around his shoulders, and using his diminishing strength, he managed to aid her into getting his body freed from the unit's weight.
"Oh God! Gil – Gil we have to get you to the fountain." Catherine started pulling his body towards the exit, no longer caring whether the suspect had fled – right now, her friend's safety was all she cared about. Glass and awards shattered under their feet as Catherine raced Gil to the eye- fountain located right outside the room. She thrust his head in the cool jets, allowing the water to flush out the remnants of the liquid that had cruelly greeted him.
Gil gripped the side of the fountain, feeling the cool spray calm the fire that seemed to have been burning deep behind his retinas. "What's happening to me...?"
She couldn't deny the vulnerability in his voice, and she kept a hand on his back, rubbing soothing circles of comfort. Flipping her phone on, she barked orders to send an ambulance right away before returning to her worries. "Feeling better? Can you see..." She had seen the vial, broken by his head and the inscription terrified her. Thoughts jumped back to Chemistry class and she realized she did not know enough of the substance to console him further.
"I still can't see, Catherine." Gil said softly, his eyes once again soaking up the coolness from the fountain. "What happened?"
Catherine bit her lip, her other hand finding the nape of his neck. She let her fingers roam the curls at the base, trying to figure out how to tell him.
"Catherine..." Gil warned her, trying to force her to reveal her knowledge. "What happened?" It was more demanding, bordering irate.
She couldn't blame him for the anger that began to surface – she herself was filled with ire, directed at the suspect, directed at herself more-so. «How could I have just left him?» She berated herself. "When he pushed the shelving unit down, a lot of the vials broke..." She began. "Do you remember coming into contact with anything?" She asked, leaning closer to him.
Gil sighed, the water cascading down his face. Pain forced him to keep his eyes closed, and he hissed slightly; the burning sensation still present, battling his eyes against the fountain's splash. "I did feel some cool liquid and some glass shards." He let out a small grunt. "It smelt really bad and burned immediately, and I thought some glass shards might have –"
"Diglycidyl Ether." Catherine blurted out.
"What?" He went to lift his head up to see, but felt her hand push it down.
"Keep flushing until the paramedics get here." She ordered him. "It's highly acidic – which explains the burning...I don't know what else to say." She replied truthfully.
"It's a colorless liquid that has this strong odor to it." He let out a sigh. "It's a controlled substance, regulated by OSHA. It's on the Hazardous Substance List." He said, his voice becoming almost monotonous. "I'm a little tired, Cath."
"Stay with me, Gil...just keep talking." Catherine begged him, her eye catching sight of the EMTs rushing towards her. "Reaction to a chemical spill!" She called out, and watched as one tended to Gil, setting up the stretcher, while the other closed the door of the contaminated office, and placed a cautionary sticker.
"No one is allowed to enter until we have given the get-go!" He ordered her, helping the other paramedic with the stretcher. "What happened?"
"Diglycidyl Ether!" Catherine jogged beside the paramedic. "He was exposed to it, came into contact with it. He's been flushing his eyes for the last ten minutes or so." She watched as the paramedic loaded him into the vehicle and closed the doors in her face. She stood there, watching the van pull out of the parking-lot and head towards Desert Palms. "Gil – be strong." She whispered, watching it disappear down the street.
Jim Brass walked up to the strawberry-blond. "I just heard the end of that conversation...will he be okay?" He asked sincerely, his own fears betraying his voice.
"I don't know." She didn't take her eyes off the road last traveled by her best-friend.
"Will you be okay?" He asked her this time, concern present.
"I don't know..."