No Man Is An Island
By Joan Powers
Type: G/S drama, eventual G/S romance
Summary: Grissom has a serious accident that causes him to re-evaluate his life and his relationship with Sara.
Timeline: Post Bloodlines
I need to thank Rosa, Leslie and Jonathan for their beta work and wonderfully helpful comments. And always thanks to Tracy, for her insight and suggestions.
This story is dedicated to Leslie who has patiently listened to my crazy ideas and encouraged me all along the way, (I couldn't have done this without you! You're excellent!), and my accident-prone sister Diane, whose trials inspired this story. Love ya Di!
My goal is to post a chapter a week of this continuing story. All feedback is greatly appreciated at .Chapter 1
Gil Grissom stared at the pool of blood starting to collect on the floor. Initially, droplets had trickled into the grout between the ceramic tiles. Within seconds, as the blood flow became heavier; they began to adhere together to form a small puddle, a clear demonstration of the attractive forces between the molecules. He'd never observed this phenomenon from such an unusual angle; it was different than any other he'd experienced in his vast professional life.
Unfortunately, he was struggling to maintain some clinical detachment. For the blood covering the floor was his own, seeping out of his temple, as he lay on his side, naked, on the ceramic tiles of his bathroom.
He exhaled a shallow sigh of relief as the blood flow finally decreased to slow droplets. Perhaps there was a chance that he wouldn't bleed to death. However, the thought didn't comfort him much, for his situation wasn't good.
Goose bumps covered his naked body even though the steam generated by his shower hadn't dissipated completely. He hoped his body wasn't going into shock. When he attempted to reach for a towel, which lay less than two feet in front of him, draped over the seat of the toilet, his efforts resulted in excruciating pain flooding his head and racking his body. He passed out.
Later, when he regained consciousness, he realized that time had passed due to the amount of light coming through the window. Since strong sunlight was streaming through the slots of the Venetian blinds, it was possibly noon or one o'clock. He'd been unconscious for at least five or six hours.
He'd taken a shower around seven am, planning to be on the road before eight o'clock. He was driving to an entomology conference in Utah. After a two or three hour drive, he was supposed to be meeting with colleagues and attending seminars for two days, and of course, showing off insect collections with other professors.
He'd found a great specimen to present, a Ranchman's Tiger Moth (Platyprepia virginalis). While not rare in Nevada, this particular one had striking coloration. For that reason, he'd been anticipating the conference even more than usual. It was difficult to find an audience that would truly appreciate such a discovery.
That wasn't relevant anymore.
Always the scientist, he began to assess the crime scene. Who was he kidding, what crime scene? Any investigator worth his salt could discern within minutes that no weapon had caused his injuries, just clumsiness. He'd slipped stepping out of the bathtub after taking a shower.
In the process of falling, he'd banged his head, hard, against the marble vanity countertop. Possible concussion, he mentally noted. He'd also heard a sickening snap as he fell. Judging from the impossible angle that his right foot was dangling, he'd mangled his ankle, badly, as it slammed against the tub. He also must've bruised or damaged some ribs as he made contact with the bathroom floor since breathing was extremely painful. He was thankful that one of his ribs hadn't punctured his lungs.
He was moderately curious about why his hands hadn't flown out to brace him for impact with the floor. Wasn't that an instinctive reflex? The best hypothesis he could come up with was that as he fell, he was thrown off balance so suddenly that his body twisted sideways, and he didn't have time to compensate for the change in orientation. His arms and hands were sticking out straight in front of him, providing no support.
He urgently needed medical attention. But how could he get help?
His lab wouldn't be looking for him. Although they were unaware of his plans, they knew that he'd taken vacation time. The earliest they'd expect him back would be Wednesday or Thursday night. And then, when he didn't show up for work, how long would it take someone to drive all the way over to his town house and discover him, naked and sprawled out all over his bathroom floor, lying in his own blood? He shivered at the thought.
Could he reach his cell phone? Not if he couldn't move.
Maybe he could throw something out the bathroom window to get a neighbor or passerby's attention? Once again, that would involve moving.
Motivated by gut clenching fear and frustration, he gritted his teeth and frantically tried to move again, to do something to alleviate his circumstances, yet the overwhelming agony caused him to pass out again.
As Grissom regained consciousness, he made himself promise not to attempt to move again, no matter how tempting, because next time, he might not wake up. The dim lighting in the room revealed that another significant chunk of time had elapsed. Nighttime was coming and he would be completely in the dark.
His situation was critical.
He took a mental inventory of his wounds. The blow to his temple could become infected; he may've sustained a concussion or minor brain injury. He was having difficulty concentrating yet that most likely could be attributed to the intense pain of his injuries, which only seemed to be getting worse. While the medics wouldn't be able to do much about the ribs, just being in a more comfortable position would surely help. The pain radiating from his ankle was unbearable. Most likely he'd need surgery, and months of recovery.
He was alive, for now. His throat was painfully dry and his body throbbed with pain, but he was alive. And alone.
He grimly laughed. Talk about irony, normally he thrived on being alone. He'd always found so many things that fascinated him, that people could become an annoying distraction. He loved to hide away in the lab, doing science. His work and his varied interests truly drove and propelled him; they fascinated and thrilled him. Almost every day brought novel facts and ideas to explore and investigate, which filled him with excitement.
Not that he didn't like people; they were just more, complicated. As a child, other kids had mocked his interests and the fact that he cared so passionately about them. Even very few adults had truly appreciated his talents, so early on he learned to close off his emotions, not to share that part of himself with others so he wouldn't be vulnerable to their taunting or their indifference. He could get along just fine with others; he just didn't want to play their games. So while the other boys tackled each other on the playground, he quietly pursued his own interests and was happy as a lark.
He loved science. Entomology and forensics were a rush for him. He loved going to work everyday, maybe that's why he never used up his vacation time.
Most likely that's why he hadn't aggressively pursued a wife as well. He was a normal guy; he was attracted to women. But, he wasn't very good with people, especially the opposite sex. Upon meeting an attractive woman, the Ph.D. scientist rapidly became a babbling idiot. Thus, he wasn't highly confident about his abilities to court a woman. His passion for insects also drove them away in swarms.
Another motivating factor for him was that relationships required the commitment of a lot of time and energy. He couldn't serve two masters, so he devoted that energy to his career, instead. For the most part, he had no regrets.
Was he going to die alone? The thought bothered him more than he cared to admit.
Who would miss him? Besides his mother, would anyone truly mourn his passing? He'd always felt he'd made a difference in the world by helping people, the victims of horrible crimes, but would those victims or their families attend his funeral? He doubted it. Who was he working so hard to protect? Who would even arrange for his funeral?
Was he going to be like that mummified woman, Madeline Foster, whom he'd found trapped in her closet? He'd felt her terror as he stepped into the closet and closed the door to simulate the experience. For almost a month, no one had bothered to check on her, only robbers breaking into her home had alerted the police. Not even her nephew had noticed.
Would anyone actually look for him? How long would it take? Would they find an injured man or a decomposing corpse?
As he swallowed hard, he realized that he'd overlooked something when he assessed his situation. What was the rule? The rule of three. Three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food. He fought to keep his body from shaking. Although they were critical, his injuries weren't going to kill him. He was going to die of dehydration in his bathroom.
The darkness enveloped him, silently surrounding him like an insidious protective cloak, exacerbating every ache and pain in his body. His vision was limited; he could barely discern the shadowy outlines of the sink and toilet. Distant beams from a nearby streetlight dimly touched his window blinds. Considering that he carried a weapon and routinely interrogated criminals and other unstable individuals, he'd never felt so vulnerable in his adult life.
Night lingered forever, it seemed. As the minutes dragged by, he readily admitted to himself that he was scared that he was going to die. He was sorely tempted to stretch out his arms and allow his agonizing pain to overwhelm him and put himself out of his misery. Yet with his continued weakened condition, he was apprehensive that he would never revive.
Besides, that would be a coward's way out, he wanted to live. What did Nietzsche say?
To die proudly when it is no longer possible to live proudly.
He still had his pride, whatever that was worth.
Although he'd stepped away from the church years ago, he was sorely tempted to pray for help. What other options did he have? Yet, what was the point? He was a man of science, not faith. At this late hour, even if there was a God, he must be laughing at his circumstances, punishing him for his disbelief. Grissom didn't feel as if he'd done anything to deserve this type of punishment.
As he advanced in years, he began to envision his death. He'd assumed that rather than silently slipping away, dying of old age at a rustic retirement retreat, that his death would be violent and sudden. After all, two serial killers had threatened his life. If it hadn't been for Catherine's swift thinking and decisive actions, the strip strangler would've killed him. And Paul Millander's games, staging suicides of men who had birthdays identical to his, then toying with him during the course of the investigation, had disturbed him more than he cared to admit. Within the confines of a holding cell, Walter Darian had physically assaulted him while he was attempting to collect evidence; lunging for his neck with such speed he was shocked that his jugular was still intact. Even the police weren't a safe haven, for Officer Fromansky's behavior had been clearly threatening to him on more than one occasion.
Of course, there was also the possibility of freak accidents at crime scenes such as being grazed by a stray gunshot or blown up by a pipe bomb while innocently opening a closet door. There were myriad opportunities for an untimely death; his job was rife with hazards.
His only consolation was that under any of those circumstances, death would have been swift. Not tortuously slow and painful, not humiliating and degrading like this.
That reminded him of another quote.
This is the way the world ends,
Not with a bang, but a whimper.
That's what it felt like. Instead of leaving this world in a resounding and satisfying flash, he would be doomed to linger in a decidedly undignified lackluster fashion.
He strove to recall other quotes about the nature of death, to try to derive some comfort or meaning from them, for his knowledge was his treasure in which he'd invested his life.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
No matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't escape his Catholic upbringing. His mother would've been pleased.
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come? (Shakespeare)
That's more like it. What dreams, indeed? Death would be a welcome relief from his excruciating wounds. But, despite his fear and discomfort, he wasn't ready; he refused to accept the possibility. Despite the circumstances and the odds, which he'd diligently calculated, he still had the irrational hope that he could survive this ordeal and return to his normal life.
Was he fooling himself?
All we are is dust in the wind. (Where did that come from?)
Was his life ultimately worthless in the scheme of the world? He didn't think so. Yet, what legacy would he be leaving behind? Whose lives had he touched? Where had he made a difference?
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time. (Mark Twain)
Had he fully lived his life?
He'd managed to drift off into a fitful sleep, for a short time. However, it was still pitch black, possibly hours from sunrise, when he awoke. Normally the stillness of the night was comforting to him, he enjoyed the silence and he preferred working at night behind the scenes of the regular crowd. Now those former daytime distractions would've been welcome with open arms.
His condition was deteriorating rapidly, as he expected. His ankle had swollen to enormous proportions while continuing its relentless throbbing. The effects of dehydration were already setting in; swallowing was extremely difficult due to the dryness of his mouth, and his head ached. The fluid accumulating in his ankle wouldn't be helping matters either. He estimated that his ability to think clearly would be severely hampered by the next day, as his bodily systems would become even more stressed. His blood would become thicker and more difficult to circulate which would tax his heart. His kidneys wouldn't function as well so the level of waste products would start to increase in his blood stream.
He was slightly encouraged as he recalled that the rule of three referred to ninety-degree desert temperatures. The ambient temperature of his surroundings could buy him more time. Symptoms of moderate dehydration had already set in. If (or, who was he kidding, when) he became more than ten percent dehydrated, he could become delirious or go into a coma. His prospects weren't promising.
What had he been thinking about before he dozed off? Oh, regrets.
He'd visited so many crime scenes during the course of his life. A large number of those scenes included pictures of loved ones – parents, sons, daughters, and grandchildren. Some picture frames cluttered their shelves or decorated their fireplace mantels while other families even plastered their walls with the faces of those they held dear. Inevitably these same victims had grieving family members come to the morgue to identify their bodies and arrange for their burials.
What was on his walls? His beloved butterflies and insects, which were already lifeless corpses. They wouldn't notice if he passed away and his rotting body stunk to high heaven. It wouldn't bother them in the least.
However, that had been the way he'd deliberately chosen to live his life. For years, he'd successfully strived to maintain acquaintances at a distance, so as not to allow anyone close access to his personal life.
Why did he feel this way? He wasn't entirely sure, he wasn't a man given to deep reflections on his emotions.
Current circumstances prodded him to examine the question in more detail. Upon more intense scrutiny, he realized that it wasn't that he couldn't love others or that he didn't want to care for others. He did have strong feelings regarding his coworkers.
The experiences of his childhood had taught him repeatedly that no one appreciated who he truly was. Adults and children alike had mocked him and rejected him when he allowed himself to get close to them. The fact that he was raised essentially by an absent father and a divorced deaf mother didn't help matters either. However, his mother's limitations had never been the problem. Even though she didn't always understand him, his mother had always unconditionally loved and supported him. Unfortunately, It just hadn't been enough to salvage the doubts inflicted by others.
As an adult, he'd realized that there were other people in the world who had more in common with him, who were passionate about learning and asking questions. College had been a wonderfully eye opening experience, it was the first setting where he'd felt free to thrive. Yet, it was too late to connect with these people on a more intimate level, the seeds of fear had already been planted deep within him and their roots had grown deep. At all costs, he had to protect himself from rejection, thus his brusque manner arose.
Despair was mounting up within him. He found himself fighting back a sob. At this point, he didn't actually care about crying, he was too miserable to be embarrassed. However the physical act was going to wreck havoc on his broken ribs. He struggled to control the intensity of his sobs as the pain shot through him. Hoarse cries escaped his throat as his chest heaved, although few tears accumulated in his eyes due to his dehydrated state.
He'd discovered that there was something even worse than his horror of being rejected. That he was going to die alone unloved and missed by no one other than his mother.
Bright beams of sun touched upon his closed eyelids, Grissom squinted as he opened them. Apparently daylight had arrived. Was it Tuesday or even Wednesday? He'd been drifting in and out of consciousness for so long, he'd no idea what day or time it was.
How much time did he have left?
Did it matter any more? There was no rational scenario he could concoct to get him out of this predicament. No one had any sustentative reason to stop by his town house and check on him. Most likely he'd be lying here until the neighbors reported the stench of his corpse.
He'd tentatively tried to move his arms with the idea of tinkering with the plumbing beneath the sink to obtain some water. Yet, his pain, which had dulled to a fuzzy haze, reared its ugly face in full force with the slightest effort of motion. Dragging himself over to the bathtub wouldn't be a viable option either.
What was the point? Was he postponing the inevitable?
Besides, what condition would he actually be in if he did survive? Would his heart and brain be able to function normally? How much surgery and rehab would he have to endure? He'd never been a patient man when it came to physical limitations, especially his own. Other than his impending deafness, he'd never had to accommodate them before.
Since he'd fallen early on a Monday morning, Grissom had estimated that he'd be dead by Thursday or possibly Friday. Time was slipping away from him.
Other than the agony of his wounds coursing through him, his senses felt diminished somehow. His hearing was fuzzy, his vision unclear. Of course he wasn't wearing his glasses either. His eyelids felt leaden, as if weights were upon them.
His initial impulse was to fight sleep, but why?
To die, to sleep---To sleep, perchance to dream (Shakespeare)
The nothingness of unconsciousness, the sleep of death, would be preferable to being tortured by his aches and doubts.
Another quote came to his mind.
Death may be the greatest of all blessings (Socrates)
And finally, a bible quote which spoke directly to his heart:
For everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)
He'd accepted it; he was going to die.