EPILOGUE – Part 5 of 5
Walking into Grissom's home office, Catherine chuckled, "It must have killed you to watch her cube kiwis."
Shutting the door behind them he replied, "After the last twenty-four hours, she could have shredded them for all I care."
"The ring looks great." She took a seat.
"I was surprised the guys didn't give us a hard time about it." Moving behind his desk he sat in his chair.
"Guys only look at a girl's ring finger when they think there's a chance she might be single."
"So…" Catherine glanced around. "What are we here to discuss?"
Her curiosity was piqued.
He couldn't put it off any longer. "I have to give up one of my team members to be the new day shift supervisor. You've earned it. You'd be great at it. And if Warrick wants to transfer with you that's what we'll do."
"Thank you." Sitting back she considered the offer. "It's what I've been working toward for a long time."
She was surprised to hear the next words come out of her mouth. "But after last night I don't know if it's what I want anymore."
"Really?" It wasn't the answer he expected.
"A bullet in the Kevlar can make a woman rethink her priorities."
"And it can make people around her do the same."
"You see…things are going well right now and I don't need more responsibility and more time away from home. With my current schedule, I can be home for Lindsay when she needs me the most. I've got a great housekeeper watching her at night so I don't have to worry about that anymore. It's working." At peace with the decision she said, "The lab will always be here. Down the road, when the timing is better, I'm sure an opportunity will present itself again."
"I respect that decision, Catherine." Then he groaned. "Of course now my job is harder because I have to choose between Warrick and Nick."
"You always hate this supervisory stuff."
"Why do you think I'm not thrilled at the prospect of having to bring a new people into the team? I'll be found out."
"I know the real reason." After all these years, they were a family and he was having a hard time letting go.
In the kitchen, Sara was surrounded by stacks of dishes and curious men.
"So Sara…" Nick needled her. "We couldn't help but notice that ring on your hand."
She knew it was only a matter of time and apparently time was up.
"Yeah, Sara." Brass flashed her a smile. "You uh…find that in a cracker jack box on your day off?"
"A shoebox actually." She laughed. "Do you really expect me to stand here and rinse dishes while all of you harass me, do you?"
"I'm not sure I believe you know how to rinse dishes," Warrick replied.
She offered an alternative. "How about going in the backyard."
"Like the dogs that we are?" Brass headed for the back door and Greg was right on his tail.
"Look! They have a hot tub," Greg pointed out as he walked through the door. "Should I grab my kit so we can swab the perimeter?"
"Not necessary." When Warrick reached the door he produced a swab. "I've already got one."
Gaping at Nick, she asked, "They're not really going to do that are they?"
On his way to the sink to help with the dishes he cracked up. "Sounds to me like you're worried they're going to find something."
Sara walked over to the window. "They're really doing it!"
"They only give you a hard time because they like you so much." He laughed again. "Well that and it's fun seeing you squirm."
Opening the window she yelled. "You need a warrant for that!"
Brass quickly corrected her. "You invited us in remember."
Nick tossed a dishrag over his shoulder. "Nice try."
Finished with their chat, Catherine and Grissom walked into the kitchen.
"Where is Warrick?" Grissom asked.
To which Sara cheerily replied, "Outside swabbing our hot tub with the other juvenile delinquents."
He shook his head. "I should have…"
"Yeah well, too late."
Catherine took Sara by the arm. "I want a house tour while Grissom speaks to the boys."
"Love to." Sara glared at Nick. "Finish the dishes."
Catherine smiled. "Sounds like you really are ready for marriage, Nick."
When they were alone, Grissom said to Nick, "I need to discuss something with you."
"It wasn't my idea to swab the tub."
"Not that. It's work-related."
Nick stopped rinsing dishes and leaned against the counter.
"Brass is asking that I give up one of the team to days. He wants a new supervisor in there."
"We'll all miss Catherine."
"She turned it down." Pausing for a breath, he took another moment to think through the decision. "I…I'm giving you the opportunity."
Thrilled and stunned at the same time, Nick asked, "Why?"
Grissom was surprised by the question. "You don't think you're qualified?"
"I do but I want to know why you do."
Shoving his hands in his pockets, Grissom walked about the room. "Because the last time you received a promotion it was taken away from lack of funding and you didn't complain. That showed me you love the job."
"And we all know when someone who loves the job leads the team, everyone benefits." Nick smiled at his mentor. "Much more important than being good at paperwork or politics."
"Thanks. I appreciate that."
"And we'll still get to work together every now and then. Plus we'll get to hang out at departmental meetings together."
"Are you kidding?" Grissom rolled his eyes. "I never go to those."
Walking down the hall, Catherine said, "I know you forbid the boys but…I get to see the bedroom, right?"
"The boys are outside swabbing my hot tub. Can you blame me for keeping them out of the bedroom?"
Catherine continued to bargain. "I'm planning on redecorating my bedroom now that Warrick's moving in so I wanted to see how you designed yours. You know…trying to blend the masculine and the feminine."
Reluctantly, Sara opened the door. "Go on in."
Surprised she was allowed access, Catherine breezed into the room. "Wow."
"I take it you like it."
"Love it!" Walking further into the room she eyed the details. "You have excellent taste, Sara."
"Thanks." Sara shut the door and joined Catherine in the center of the room. "You should have seen it before when it still had Mrs. Goodfella's décor." Thinking about it gave Sara the chills. "Gaudy gold and crystal fixtures, mirrors everywhere, red plush rug…think of the protein and microbes that were swimming in that rug."
Catherine cringed. "Sounds like the VIP room of a club I used to dance at." Standing next to the impressive mahogany bed she cracked a devious grin. "Four posters, huh. Better to tie…"
"Do I have to evict you?" Sara chuckled. "I thought you were here for decorating inspiration."
Catherine strolled to the other side of the room. "Colors?"
"Sage, Plum and Wheat. All sateen. Nothing under a 320 thread count."
"Well it's where you should be most comfortable."
"Speaking of comfortable…" Noticing a scant piece of lingerie peeking out from under the bed skirt, she delicately extracted it. "Someone didn't do a good enough job sweeping the scene."
Blushing, Sara blurted, "I'm glad you found that instead of Greg."
"La Perla Black Label." Catherine tossed the scrap of lace onto the bed. "He buy that for you or did you buy it to surprise him?"
"I bought it."
Raising her brows, Catherine replied, "Good girl. So I guess the drawstring pajama bottoms are out?"
"No, I still have them but only for special occasions." Sara grabbed the lingerie and stuffed it in a drawer. "Changing subject."
"Meet any of your neighbors yet? Or being the reclusive duo that you are, do you spend all of your free time locked away in the house?"
"You'll love this." Sara sat on the edge of the bed to tell her story. "Last month we were invited to this neighborhood party. Three different neighbors made a point of stopping us asking if we were planning to attend. Very nosy people around here."
"Well they were probably curious as hell about the two of you." Catherine peered out the window. "Staying out all night, bringing home bugs and never talking to anyone. I'm sure Mrs. Kravitz had a ton of blanks to fill. Did you actually go?"
"We did! We figured it was the only way to get them to stop bothering us."
Highly suspicious she probed, "How long did you stay?"
"Thirty minutes. We had it worked out in advance. I paged him, he paged me and we told everyone duty called."
"Now that sounds more like the two of you." Moving back toward the bed she asked, "What are you going to do to avoid the next one?"
"Well…I doubt we'll be invited back. Grissom went on and on about his Madagascar Hissing cockroaches when the guys were talking sports. And while I was stuck in the kitchen with ladies, one of them asked if I thought the dip smelled sour which of course I segued into 'you don't know a bad smell until you've processed decomp'."
Catherine sighed. "It's a good thing you have each other."
"Sara…all joking aside, I have something serious I want to ask you and I apologize in advance if it makes you uncomfortable. That's not my intent."
"Sure." She couldn't imagine what it would be. "About Grissom?"
"No." Taking a seat next to Sara, she said, "Last night, after getting shot I started thinking about my life and…what if Warrick and I both had…well…what would happen to Lindsay." Sadness filled her voice. "Eddie's mom, her grandma, has cancer and she's not expected to make it and my family…you know they disowned me, not that I would want her with them."
"You're just upset about last night. That's why you're worried."
"Sara…I know you understand what it's like to wake up one day and find out you have no place to go."
Lowering her head, Sara nodded.
"I don't want Lindsay to be in that position. So if it's okay with you and Grissom, could I make arrangements for you to take her in should something happen to us. I know you would be able to help her get through it and give her the stability she would need."
"Catherine I…" Shocked by the intimacy of the request she stammered. "You have that much faith in me to take care of your daughter. I've never even cared for a dog. Do you really think I could…"
"Absolutely." She smiled. "I've seen how compassionate you are with victims and their families. I've seen you and Nick working on that foster kid program and how you light up when you're able to give a scared kid the support they need. Look at this house, you've turned into a home filled with warmth and love. You're a nurturer, Sara."
"I…I guess I've never looked at it that way."
Taking a deep breath, Catherine forced herself to lighten up. "I'm a Cat you know. I have nine lives. So I'm not planning on going anywhere. But I'd be an irresponsible mother if I didn't plan for this so will you talk to Grissom and see if he's okay with it."
"Yes. I will."
"Thanks." Standing up she grinned. "Now let me crack a joke about something in here so I can snap out of this somber mood."
"Go for it."
After walking into the backyard, Grissom pulled Brass aside. "It's done."
"Really?" Brass nodded with approval. "We'll make it effective next week."
"I told him not to say anything yet."
"Good. I'll talk to him later and go over the details. Then you can tell the team tomorrow."
"Okay." Grissom sighed. "I'll do the paperwork for his replacement."
Smiling, Brass reminded his friend, "Change is a good thing. Look at all the ones you've made in the last seven months."
Having reached his maximum, Grissom snapped. "But I'm still not going to the departmental meetings."
When Catherine and Sara returned from their tour, they were shocked to find Warrick, Nick, Greg, Brass and Grissom lying around on the living furniture clutching their stomachs and moaning.
"No!" Sara panicked "This can not be happening!"
"Gotcha!" The guys yelled, clearly pleased with themselves.
"Yeah…very funny. Party's over!" Sara grumbled. "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
Warrick stood up and said, "Gris sounds like she's talking to you too."
"No. He can stay." She smirked. "But I'll make him pay for it."
"That's our cue." Catherine snapped her fingers. "Let's go boys."
They all followed her out the door except Nick who stopped to pat Grissom on the shoulder as he walked by. "Don't worry, if you don't show up for shift we'll send someone over to untie you."
Sara guided Nick towards the hallway. "Don't you have a date later? Better get some rest." Laughing she shoved him out the door.
An hour later, happy to be guest free, Sara and Grissom embraced what was left of their honeymoon time.
"Am I doing it right?" Sara whispered.
"Slow down a little and…"
"Hmm…let me show you." Taking her hand in his he gently guided her.
"You're right…that's much easier."
In her ear he confidently said, "Well, I have been doing this for a long time so I should be good at it."
"And it's my first time so I'm glad you're here to help me." Smiling she asked, "So how old were you when you set up your first ant farm?"
"Seven maybe?" He helped her carefully pour in the last cup of sand. "I remember being very excited about it."
"That's not hard to imagine." She teased. "You always light up like a little boy whenever you're talking bugs."
"Well back then they brought me happiness and I guess I still feel that when I'm working with them today." He explained, "I could spend hours watching bugs because when I was consumed I didn't have to think about anything else."
"I used books to escape the world around me."
"And now we use this house to escape but the difference is…" From behind he wrapped his arms around her waist. "We have each other's company."
Smiling she asked, "Do you think we're ready?"
"I think we are."
"Okay." Sara opened the lid of the jar and released the ants Grissom had scooped up from the backyard, into the new home.
"And they're off and running."
"Look at them go." She relaxed against him.
With a hint of regret in his voice he said, "Unlike people, ants don't waste any time."
Not missing a beat she countered, "We've made up for plenty."
"When Catherine was telling us what happened did you think about…"
"Only for a second because I know now that 'what ifs' are a waste of time."
As he kissed her neck, he whispered. "Ants never ask what if."
"No. I'm sure they don't." Pointing to the farm, she said, "So far it looks like our ants are adjusting well."
"All forty of them."
"I'm growing attached to them already." She chuckled. "And to think only hours earlier I was frightened at the prospect of motherhood."
"Maternal instinct is biological."
"Are you saying forty ants just activated mine?"
Joining her in a light laugh. "Ahh…now we know Catherine's true intentions for giving the gift."
"Yeah. Here we are talking about the thing we stopped thinking about." His arms still wrapped around her, she turned to face him. "Although…I didn't really stop thinking about it. I just stopped talking about it. I've been confused ever since the subject came up."
Reaching up he brushed her hair off her face. "Me too."
Cautiously she asked, "Do you think we would be good at being…?"
"There's no way to know. It's not something science can test for and determine before people have…"
"If it was, a lot less people would be having…" A nervous laugh tumbled over her lips. "I can't believe we're talking about this. How does this work for other people? Is this something we should instinctively know definitively?"
"I can say definitively that I'm not ready to say no to the possibility."
Cupping her face in his hands he softly said, "So how about this. We open an investigation."
"And what would we investigate?"
"We analyze how it could work, what sacrifices we would need to make, make sure there aren't any medical issues to address. This way, we have all the information necessary to make an informed decision."
The ends of her lips tipped into a smile. "A feasibility study for lack of a better term?"
"Yes." Cracking a grin, he said, "And during that time maybe we'll even get comfortable enough to actually say the words we keep leaving out of our sentences."
She smiled brightly. "And the ants could function as a relevant experiment during the investigation phase."
"Yes." Leaning in he dotted her lips with a kiss.
"Should this be an open-ended investigation or do we want to establish a timeline?"
"Well…unfortunately time is not on our side so we don't have the luxury of a lengthy investigation."
She nodded. "So…we should pick a date for the review of information."
Their foreheads met and their voices turned to whispers.
"Any ideas?" She pulled him closer.
"I can only think of one."
His lips met hers as he answered. "Your birthday."
THANK YOU FOR READING!
I HOPE YOU ENJOYED THE ENTIRE RIDE !
Nextstory in the Series: Feasibility Study