Disclaimer: CSI and its characters do not belong to me. The story is for the reader's entertainment. No copyright infringement is intended.
Written for my e-pal in Belgium: StephJAG J
Bang, Bang, You're Dead
By Elena George
The house had been cleared half an hour ago. So it surprised Jim Brass when he heard two shots pop off in the backyard. Brass drew his weapon and headed toward the sound. He could make out a body lying prostrate on the ground near the alleyway. Only a quarter of the streetlights in this rundown neighbourhood burned through the dark of 1 a.m.
Brass approached the body cautiously until he saw "FORENSICS" on the jacket back. His heart stopped a moment as adrenalin pushed its way through his veins. He entered the alleyway looking quickly left then right. Nobody, nothing, but the sound of his own heavy breathing. Holstering his weapon, Brass knelt next to the crushed figure. Carefully, he rolled the man face up. He had taken one round in the chest. Brass felt for a pulse. Relieved to find the faint echo of life, he reached for his phone.
"This is Captain Jim Brass. I need a life flight air ambulance to our location. Officer down!" he reported. "Come on, Gil. Hang in there for me," Brass pleaded with his friend as he placed a cloth over the wound and applied pressure.
Grissom made no sound, no moves. Brass prayed quietly, hoping for a miracle. Sirens drenched the night with sound. He could hear the noise of rotors chewing through the air, echoing back and forth through the houses along the alley.
"Back here!" he called out to paramedics who took over.
They ripped open Grissom's shirt and applied the patches for an EKG. The sleeves of his jacket were sliced open for the twin IVs. Life flight landed on the street in front of the crime scene house. Just as quickly, they whisked Grissom away. Brass was still on his knees when Catherine arrived.
"Jim!" she looked around at the paramedic trash and pool of blood where her friend had lain five minutes before. "What the hell happened?"
Brass looked up, tears in his eyes. Slowly, he regained a more steeled cop posture and stood. Before he could speak, Catherine and he held each other, consoling and comforting, then they parted.
"I dunno. I was inside when I heard two shots. I looked around for Gil then headed out here. I found him there – no perp in sight or sound."
"Didn't patrol clear the building?" Catherine wanted to know.
"Yeah. It was clear. Gil got a shot off. Here's his weapon, fired recently," Brass handed the weapon to Catherine. She put it into a large plastic evidence bag as Warrick joined them in the yard.
"We've now got two crime scenes here, Warrick: one inside and one out here. Gil got one shot off before his attacker fled. See if he hit anything. I'm going back to the Lab then to the hospital."
Warrick nodded knowingly, "Catherine, Nick, Sarah, and Sophia, and I will take care of this end. You get to the hospital and take care of Griss for us all. Let him know we're with him."
Catherine nodded, holding Warrick's arm, partly to reassure him and partly to reassure herself.
Las Vegas was a city that remained in perpetual motion, especially in the middle of the night. The lights swirled, beckoning, bedazzling the casual tourist to "come and take a chance." Catherine was hardened to the synthetic allure. She was single-minded, "to the hospital or bust," having left Grissom's weapon Warrick's care.
She threaded through the ER traffic to the interior nurse's desk. She swallowed hard then spoke to the nurse whose back was to her.
"Excuse me, but I'm looking for Gil Grissom."
The nurse turned around, "And you are?"
Catherine flashed a reasonable facsimile of a smile and her badge, "The closest thing to a next of kin he has."
The nurse scowled.
"Look, he's unmarried, an orphan with no brothers or sisters," she concocted. "I am as close to Gil as a sister. May I see him please?"
The nurse continued to scowl, looked at Catherine, saw the badge and gun. She considered a moment longer.
"Here's his stuff," the nurse produced a brown paper sack with Grissom's name on it. "They took him to emergency surgery two minutes after he got here."
Catherine tried not to look stunned, "Prognosis?"
The nurse shrugged, "You can wait upstairs in the surgery waiting area, if you like."
Just that quick, she turned away from Catherine and went back to her own duties.
"Gee, thanks," muttered Catherine as she left.
Three hours into the interminable wait, Brass and the sheriff appeared. Catherine had just finished her seventh large cup of coffee.
"Jim, Sheriff," she greeted them.
"Any word?" the sheriff wanted to know.
Catherine shook her head; "I just missed seeing him before they took him into surgery. They've been working on him," she paused to look at a clock, "for at least three hours. No idea how much longer he'll be. You may as well make yourselves comfortable. The coffee's not bad," she offered.
The sheriff nodded and poured himself a cup as he yawned. He took a big gulp and nearly spit it out instantly.
"Oh, that's awful! How can you drink that stuff?" he demanded to know.
Catherine shrugged, "I guess it takes getting used to. I'm on my second pot."
Brass rolled his eyes and sat down to wait for word on his best buddy in Vegas.
Somewhere near six in the morning, a surgeon stepped into the waiting room. He held a chart in his hands. He looked at Catherine.
"Downstairs tells me you're his sister?"
"That's me," Catherine quickly offered. "How's Gil?"
"There was significant damage to his left lung. The bullet fragmented and bounced around. He's lost a lot of blood from lots of perforated blood vessels. I think we got them all stitched back together, but time will tell if he leaks. His next hurdle is getting from Recovery to the Unit. Then we may know more in a few days."
"Jim Brass, Las Vegas PD," Brass offered his hand. "I want to thank you, Doc, for saving Gil's life."
"He's nowhere near out of the woods," the surgeon said stony-faced. "He's got a long way to go. If the damage doesn't get him, infection could. Al whole host of things can go sour."
"My, you're a cherry soul," remarked the sheriff caustically.
"Sheriff, I do this work for a living. I'm just laying it all on the line for you. That way if he goes south, you'll be prepared."
"May I see him, please?" Catherine pleaded with her eyes.
The doctor looked at her for a long moment and the conceded, "This way, but only for a very few minutes."
A nurse helped Catherine into a mask and gown before taking her to see Grissom.
Catherine's hands trembled and her eyes involuntarily flooded when she saw his crumpled form on the bed. A sheet covered the lower part of his body; a white dressing covered the sutures; a yellow-brown stain covered the rest of his chest. A tube extended down to a jug that caught the reddish fluid draining from his lung. Slowly, she took his right hand in hers.
"Gil, it's Catherine. I'm right here. I've been here all night. They're only giving me a minute or two, but I want you to know how much you mean to me, to us. I, we love you and need you back with the team, with me."
The nurse gently touched Catherine, "Time for him to rest now."
Catherine bent closer to Gil and whispered in his ear, "Gil, I do love you. Don't forget that, ever!"
She ran her hand through his sweat, dirt, and blood-encrusted hair, "I'll be seeing ya soon."
The chirps, chimes, and hums of Recovery faded as Catherine headed back to the patiently waiting Brass and sheriff. She took one last deep breath before exiting through the automatic doors. The swoosh of the doors brought her two compadres up from their chairs.
"How is he?" they said simultaneously.
"Very pale, very hot," she paused, "I already donated blood, how about you two?" she patted her arm.
"Yep," Brass replied. "We're going now."
"You look like you could use some sleep, go home," ordered the sheriff.
Catherine nodded even though she had no intention of doing so. Home would just have to wait. She had spoken to the nanny who would launch Lindsey toward school while Mom went back to the Lab.
Nick had pieced together the bullet fragments that Greg got from the hospital. He was running a ballistics match program.
"You ever find the bullet that Grissom fired?" Catherine wanted to know.
Heads rose up from work, a chorus of "How is he?" went up from all parts of the lab as they gathered around her.
An exhausted Catherine explained as best she could the good and the bad.
Warrick then supplied the answer to her question, "No, we did not find Grissom's shot. It could still be out there, in a passing vehicle, or in the perp."
Nick's program toned to say it had found a match on the slug retrieved from Grissom's chest.
"We've got a match," he announced. "Looks like this is the same weapon used in that string of six armed robberies in that neighbourhood. We've got a one man crime wave."
Greg joined them, "Looks like it's been a bad night in Vegas. There have been a dozen gunshot vics tonight, not including Grissom. Sophia is still out collecting the rounds dug out of those vics."
"Well let's hope one matches Grissom's weapon," Catherine exclaimed. "Have we run his weapon yet?"
"Done," nodded Warrick, holding a baggie with a clean round in it.
By noon, the eighth round inspected proved to be a match to Grissom's weapon. By noon, Grissom was in ICU on a ventilator. Catherine had showered and changed before she went back to play sister. She looked at the monitors: pulse 120; respirations 15; temperature 104, BP 100/55; O2 sats 85. The number that jumped out at her was his fever. Her Dr. Mom alarm bells were ringing loudly in her head.
"what's being done for his fever?" she asked.
The nurse pointed to the smaller IV bag piggybacked into the larger one.
"Antibiotics and lots of fluids for now. So far he output is okay; no indication of renal failure. And we've got him on a cooling blanket," she pointed to a green plastic pad under Grissom.
Renal failure, mulled Catherine in her mind. She'd never imagined that complication.
"Bleeding? The surgeon wasn't sure if he'd plugged all the leaks last night," she inquired.
"So far, we don't see anything to indicate that is a problem. I do wish we could get his O2 sats back up to 100. Here you can sit with him for a while. I'll let you know when you need to leave."
A curtain was pulled closed for some privacy. Catherine sat on a stool and held Gil's hand in hers again. She thought she felt his hand close around hers.
Nothing. It must have been her imagination. His fingers flinched again. She tightened her grip, not wanting to let go.
"I'm here, Gil, I'm here," she kept repeating. "We need you back. You hit the guy. We've got him. Turns out he's the same guy who's been sticking up convenience stores. He's over at Valley View Medical Center. Brass read him his rights a few hours ago. It's okay now. Lindsey wants to come up and see her Uncle Gil, too." She sighed, "We'll wait until you're awake."
Grissom did not move. The drug-induced coma allowed him to hear when he was "awake" but not respond. He wanted to reach out to Catherine, but he was frozen. She watched his chest rise and fall with the rhythm of the ventilator. The rest of this team came by and spent a few minute with him as the days wore on. Warrick reminded him again that he was grateful for being pulled back from the brink. Nick told him raunchy jokes. Sarah just did not know what to say and would occasionally attack the air with "I'm sorry, really sorry you're hurt." Catherine recounted Lindsey's school days giving the whole situation a veneer of normalcy.
Catherine was with Grissom when the fever broke four days into the vigil. He went from shivering to swathed in sweat. It was the first good news the team had all week. The ventilator assisted his own breathing as the drugs were carefully withdrawn. Grissom started to wake up. His eyes were still bathed in glycerin and closed, but his right hand responded to his command to close around Catherine's hand. He squeezed ever so lightly. She giggled to find him half-awake. A few days more in ICU and Grissom was ready to go to a regular room.
Physical and respiratory therapies were added to his daily regimen. Just sitting up in a chair was a struggle at first. Catherine would walk up and down the hall four times a day with Grissom as he rebuilt his strength. The day before he left the hospital, Brass smuggled his bottle in for a toast.
Catherine took him home.
"Come on in, Catherine," Grissom invited.
She smiled and followed him inside.
"Something to drink?" she asked while he sat on the couch.
"I think there's some soda in the fridge," he remarked.
She'd been here many times in the past. She found herself a beer and a ginger ale for Grissom. Returning with two glasses, Catherine offered, "Another toast to your recovery!"
"A toast to my friends who made it possible," he raised his glass. "How many units of blood did you all donate?" he smiled.
Catherine smiled and sat next to him. He took the glass from her hand.
"Been meaning to ask you what you meant."
"When?" she looked into his gentle blue eyes.
"Early on, I remember you whispering in my ear that you loved me…" he began.
"Gil…" she put two fingers to his lips and moved closer, "Really good friends really make the best lovers."