characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis,
CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission
to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this
story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't
This is in response to an improv challenge at the Unbound forums; the first and last lines were given, and the word limit is 1,000.
This is rated PG for mild ickiness.
"That's something you don't see every day," Grissom noted.
"No, but I have seen it before," Doc Robbins countered, peering with interest into the cadaver's chest cavity.
"Really?" Grissom cocked his head, surprised. "When?"
"Medical school." Robbins tilted his own head, looking down through his glasses and reaching for forceps. "You'd be surprised at what comes through in the donations for dissection."
"No I wouldn't." A smile was tugging at the corner of Grissom's mouth, and after a moment Robbins looked up with an answering grin.
"Guess you're right. Though--" He reached into the ribcage. "--between the two of us, Gil, and our years of experience, you'd think we'd have seen it all by now. And yet there are still things that surprise me."
Grissom pursed his lips at the long clotted strand that Robbins lowered into a waiting pan. It clinked as it struck the metal, and hints of glitter peeked through the substances coating it. "Yeah? Like what?"
"A bezoar. A pharmacobezoar, to be precise. That wasn't medical school, though, that was only about ten years ago." He set down the forceps.
"Huh. I've only seen a couple of those, but they were all trichobezoars." Grissom folded his arms and leaned in for a closer look at the corpse.
"Give me another couple of degrees on that light, would you?" Robbins asked, and Grissom reached up to tilt the lamp hanging overhead. "Thanks. --Anyway, that wasn't what killed her, though it might have contributed to her death."
"So what did kill her?" Grissom asked after a moment.
"Simple heart attack." Robbins fumbled for the forceps again. "Rather boring, actually." He looked a little sheepish at the admission. "So what was your weirdest?"
Grissom thought for a minute. "There are a couple that could qualify," he said slowly. "The Bradley murder was definitely unusual. But the case where the guy just dropped in the middle of a fight in Interrogation--you remember?"
"Of course." Robbins reached into the cadaver. "Huh, two of 'em." He pulled out a second chain. "Definitely one to write up," he said absently, depositing his find next to the first chain.
"Well, as I recall, you never did find a cause of death," Grissom said in a dry tone.
"Nope." Robbins glanced up at his friend. "They don't all have answers, Gil, you know that."
"I don't have to like it," Grissom shot back, amused, and handed Robbins a scalpel before the older man could ask for it. Blood smeared his glove, but the only notice he took was a subconscious reminder not to spread it to another surface.
"There was Milander," Robbins said thoughtfully, slicing at something. "Neither he nor she."
"Yeah, but that wasn't discovered in autopsy," Grissom reminded him. "There was one...well..." He trailed off, and the medical examiner looked up.
Grissom blinked, focusing. "You tell me. Doctor Grunheld is deceased, and the records are long gone...no reason to keep it a secret." He laughed a little. "To tell you the truth, I haven't thought about this in years."
Robbins made an encouraging noise without looking up, and Grissom went on. "We got called out for a body in an alleyway one October...this was not long after I started working full-time at the coroner's...it looked like your standard wino, male, unkempt, reeking of alcohol."
"But...we couldn't find a cause of death. Or an ID. Grunheld was going to label him a DFO--unofficially, of course--but then changed his mind. It was a slow night, so we might as well look a little more in-depth."
"Borderline," Robbins commented without accusation, and Grissom shrugged in acknowledgment.
"Yeah, but Grunheld was good at walking the line. Anyway, we opened him up, and found that his internal organs were more decomposed than his exterior seemed to account for. We couldn't find a reason for that either."
Robbins shrugged. "So? If it was a body dump, there could have been something hinky with the storage beforehand."
"That's not what was weird."
The medical examiner looked up. Grissom was smiling slightly, but his eyes were distant and just a little wide, as though looking back at something incomprehensible. "He had at least a couple of organs we couldn't account for or identify, Al. One of them looked something like an extra stomach, but it was too decomposed to be sure. The other one--well, it was near the liver, but its function, if it had one, was beyond us."
Robbins blinked, and regarded him. "If this were April, and you were anyone else, Gil, I would say you were pulling my leg," he said mildly.
Grissom shrugged again. "In your position, I'd say the same. We took photos and samples, and when the tests came back inconclusive, Grunheld filed the report in the back of the cabinet and sent the body for cremation. Too bad he didn't keep any tissue samples--it would be interesting to run a DNA sequence on them now."
He chuckled. "I was all for making a fuss about it, but Grunheld sat me down and explained that without hard proof, lots of it, no one would listen to me, and what we had just wasn't enough to do anything with. He told me it was one of life's little mysteries, to remember and wonder at."
"And you left it at that?" Robbins said skeptically.
"I had to." Grissom grinned. "The report was locked in Grunheld's file cabinet; it went with the rest of the records in a fire six years later. I'm the only one who remembers." For a moment his expression was both sharp and wistful, the hunter denied a hunt. Then he waved at the cadaver between them. "I take it our thief was swallowing gold chains while the salesman's back was turned?"
Robbins shook his head ruefully. "Only in Vegas," he sighed.