Disclaimer: These characters are the property of CBS, inc.
I was so ready to focus on schoolwork, and then I watched CSI last night. Wow! They really know how to mess with a person's head. I was seriously depressed. This is the only therapy I can think of. So I am back at work on this. I will post a chapter every 2-3 days until I finish this or get tired of being jerked around by the producers of the show. This fic will reflect my own feelings of frustration. And believe me, Sara will be no doormat. And Grissom will have to wake up or get out. Having said, there will be definite GSR angst. Also, pulling in a shameless Without a Trace tie-in. Just 'cause I feel like it. Why should I play with rules if they don't.
Afraid of the Light
Grissom felt something odd when he walked into the lab. He got smiles from people; smiles that might be better described as leers. He responded with severe looks. For reasons unknown to him, his colleagues were assuming a familiarity with him that he fully intended to discourage.
He retreated to his office. It was his refuge from the chaos of a busy lab. Only three days away and mail was already piled on his desk. He settled in, turned on only the light on the desk, and began pulling up e-mail and sifting through letters. A couple of other overly bright smiles peered in his office, and one terribly annoying wink from David Hodges. Grissom had a feeling in his gut that he couldn't identify. He tried to shoo it away as if a pesky insect, but it wouldn't budge.
A knock interrupted his reverie, and he looked up. Catherine stood in the doorway, a smile plastered on her face. "Have a nice time in Palm Springs, Gil?"
He narrowed his eyes at her. "What's going on, Catherine?"
She shrugged. "Just wanted to know how your trip was?"
"Why? What's going on around here?"
She folded her arms and regarded him for a moment. "Okay. Here goes. A couple of hours after you left last Friday, we had a body out in the desert, filled with your little friends, and we needed time of death. Bugwork, but no bugman. So Sara who is the designated nerd when you're not around got the kit together but couldn't find the right collecting jars—"
Grissom winced. "I forgot to order them."
"Well Sara thought that you had just put them elsewhere, and so she called, hoping to catch you before you got on the plane."
"I didn't get a phone call, Catherine."
"I think you were probably in the bathroom or something when Sofia picked up your phone and answered it." Catherine paused for a moment to let this sink in. "And she was helpful. Offered to have you call as soon as you returned. I'm sure she picked it up because she thought it was her phone. Your cells probably look alike. Although, your cell shows the caller by name, and so it's funny that she didn't notice the name Sara on your phone before answering it."
Grissom closed his eyes and let out a deep breath. "So she told everyone in the lab I went to Palm Springs with Sofia."
She shook her head. "No, she didn't. Didn't talk to anyone about it. But Greg was there when it happened, and he, of course, said something to Nicky who said something to Warrick who said something to Jacqui who said something to me who…."
Grissom groaned. "Apparently, having a private life is too much to ask."
"Hey, you are the one with the girlfriend marking her territory."
"She's not my girlfriend."
"Well, what do you call her?"
"None of your business."
She leaned against the doorframe and met his eyes.
"Is Sara okay?"
Catherine shrugged. "She and Brass have been pulling out all the stops on a case that came in Saturday morning. Pretty much worked straight through. I let her 'cause we were short handed with you and Sofia gone. Teen-age girl dead. Tortured. Been missing the last three weeks."
Grissom was up and leaning across the table. "And it made sense for you to let her work straight through on an abuse case involving a young girl."
Catherine smiled a little and shook her head. "Why? She's your project. I'm hands off. Remember. She's all yours. Been that way ever since you and Ecklie faced off two months ago. I have no idea what's going on with her. Neither of you has deigned to fill me in on anything."
"There are issues that you are not aware of."
"Where are they?"
"Interrogation room A."
Grissom brushed past her. Catherine turned to watch him go. "Hey Gil."
"You know, she and I barely talk these days, and yet I feel like I have more respect for her than you do sometimes."
He furled her brows at her as if trying to understand, but just shook his head and walked off.
Sara stared at the dapper man seated at the table. He was alone in the room, sitting up, his hands palm down on the table. She was stared at him through the mirror with amazement. Such a mild man, balding, small, wearing wire rimmed glasses and dressed in a grey suit. Brass had left him in there for 45 minutes, and he hadn't moved. She found this remarkable. Suspects were restless people. They paced and fidgeted and talked to themselves. But this man sat quietly as if meditating in his own home.
Hatfield Corcoran, 47, was an accountant in Vegas. Moved there 9 months earlier. Clean record. No complaints of any kind, but within minutes of running his name through CODIS, an FBI alert had flashed, and now she was waiting for Brass to get back from the airport with an agent from New York.
She wanted to go in, and start an interview, but Brass was clear. She wanted to ask him about burning the girl's hands and cutting her all over. She wanted to know how he could stand her screams, begging for her life. She knew that he took his time, days even, bringing her back from unconsciousness, and then hurting her more. She wanted to understand the mind of a killer like him. She wanted to know what drove people to enjoy the pain of others. It would explain so much about her own life if she only had more insight into this need to control and inflict pain.
The door opened behind her, and Grissom filled the space. Sara sucked in her breath. She had hoped he wasn't coming back today. Actually wished that he and Sofia had stayed longer. She was not interested in dealing with him and the feelings that had so long held her hostage. Losing herself in a case had always been her best defense against this.
"Hey, Sara. How are you doing?"
"Tough case, Grissom." Self consciously, she smoothed her shirt, and ran a hand through her hair. It wouldn't help to look like she hadn't slept in two days.
"I heard. Hitting a little close to home?"
She tensed. The man runs off for a weekend with the lab's resident Vulcan, and he expects her to be vulnerable with him.
"Sara, I want to apologize—"
She put a hand up. "No need."
"I really want us to talk."
She shook her head. "Not now. I'm in the middle of something big."
"You look tired. How long have you been here?"
"Boy, you just don't stop, do you?"
"I think you need to go home and sleep. I can take over from here. I'll get the case file from Jim."
"Over my dead body." Her voice was a low whisper.
"Sara, you promised me that you would back off if I felt like a case was affecting you."
"That promise was not made for cases like this."
He stepped forward, and she backed into the wall. "You're angry with me." He said.
Her eyes reddened, and she took a deep breath. "When am I not, Grissom?"
He spoke in a voice laced with a frustration she had never heard in him before. "I never know what to do about you."
"As soon as this case is done, I'm gone. I promise you. You will never have to think about sad, angry Sara again."
"That's not what…I don't want that." He stood awkwardly in front of her, glasses in hand, rubbing the bridge of his nose.
"It's too late for it to be anything else." She looked down at her feet. "Grissom, don't take this case away. I need this last case. Please."
A heavy silence fell between them. He finally spoke. "Then I'm working it with you."
She shrugged and turned back to the man in the mirror.
"This is our suspect?"
Without turning, she said. "File is on my desk."
He hesitated, unsure of what to do or say next. She stayed glued to the mirror. Finally he turned and left.