By Joan Powers
Summary: On a fact-finding mission, Brass reluctantly drops by Grissom's town house to shed some light on recent events.
Spoilers/Timeline: Post Committed Season 5
A/N: I am so excited to be posting a story at this time. I wrote my first fanfic story approximately this week ten years ago, in response to a cliffhanger season finale of a show that was being cancelled. While I haven't been writing consistently over the years, it's sure been fun while I have! As always, thanks to Leslie and Ms. Grits for the greatly appreciated critical feedback.
WARNING: Although, I've been enjoying the fluffy fanfic challenge pieces recently posted on the Grissom/Sara board, this is NOT a fluff piece.
This is nuts, you know that? He's gonna take one look at you and throw you out.
Brass was reluctantly driving to Grissom's town house. He didn't feel quite right about it but his sense of loyalty was compelling him. He'd hastily volunteered for the assignment, otherwise some idiot like Ecklie might dare to intervene, and that wouldn't be pleasant for anyone involved. Brass was fully aware that Gil was an intensely private person, yet his recent actions required an official explanation.
He'd only been over to Gil's place a handful of times over the past years, typically by invitation only. The stark décor, with its utilitarian furnishings and museum like exhibits of insects, didn't lend itself to creating an overall warm or welcoming atmosphere. He couldn't imagine himself stretching out on that cramped leather sofa with a bag of chips to watch the game. It was almost as if his house was an extension of himself; Grissom's very nature didn't encourage one to simply 'drop by' unannounced.
Brass felt as if he was violating the man's sanctuary. But, steeling himself, he took a deep breath and reminded himself that this needed to be done. He was trying to help out his friend in the best way that he knew how. The department was becoming insistent; Grissom's stunt had ruffled a lot of feathers. In the absence of hardcore information, the rumor mill was having a field day. Since nature abhors a vacuum, utter garbage had rushed in to fill the vacancy.
Although he felt he'd uncovered the pertinent facts during his whirlwind investigation, he could construct a reasonable scenario; on an emotional level, he needed to verify things directly from his friend. This was the only way, after all, Grissom had been ignoring all of his phone calls and messages. He'd given him no choice.
Ok, here I go.
He pressed the doorbell. After several attempts, along with a few hearty knocks, there was no response. Grissom's Denali was clearly parked in his driveway. As much as he hated to do it, it would be better for everyone to resolve this situation as quickly as possible. He tentatively grasped the doorknob and tested it. It was unlocked.
The murmur of the television greeted him as he stepped into the entryway. The sound was on so low that he couldn't distinguish what type of program was on. He shouted a quick 'hello' to announce his presence, for he had no intention of potentially embarrassing his friend. He paused before proceeding, straining to hear a voice. Still, there was no response.
So he cautiously turned the corner to enter the living room. He didn't make it very far; he froze, rooted to the spot. Some of the sights that greeted him took him off guard. Apparently Grissom had redecorated.
In addition to the omnipresent insect displays, scenic California landscapes now shared the walls of the enormous room. His crowded bookcases were crammed with additional volumes. The overflow was housed in several precariously stacked milk crates that served as makeshift shelves. Multiple cardboard boxes were stacked up and shoved against a wall. Fashionable blue curtains framed the formerly bare windows, and they even complimented the matching L-shaped bulky sectional sofa with over stuffed cushions and a high back.
Now that looks comfortable. Way to go Gil. It's about time.
Grissom was sitting on the couch, with his back against the pillows and his legs stretched out in front of him. He hadn't reacted or acknowledged Brass's presence. His eyes were oddly out of focus, seemingly fixed upon the TV screen that was showing a baseball game. Yet, Brass highly doubted that he was aware of the score, or even which teams were playing. His mind was somewhere else. He hadn't seen Gil this out of it since they'd interrogated Dr. Lurie last year.
Sara was laying on top of him, huddled against him in a crumpled, defeated heap. A blanket covered most of her slight frame, but he caught a glimpse of her pale tear stained cheek. She was asleep.
Brass tactfully cleared his throat; still Grissom didn't flinch. Jim sighed, fully aware that his friend could be incredibly stubborn at times. He'd seen him try to ignore serious problems in the past, foolishly hoping that they'd simply disappear on their own, since he was too afraid to confront them head on or even acknowledge their existence. He'd almost lost his hearing because of his refusal to address his circumstances. And before today, Brass had been certain that he'd lost any chance he ever had with Sara, the one person he claimed that he could really care about.
Gil's light blue oxford shirt was badly wrinkled and stained with smudges and blotches across the chest. He was wearing the same clothes that he had on at work earlier that day.
Just do it. Get it over with.
He cleared his throat again as he perched on the opposite end of the sectional. "I hate to do this buddy, but I need to follow up on you."
Grissom glared at him, as he absently stroked Sara's hair with his fingers.
"Why? I'm fine." His tone was lackluster; he had no desire to chat.
Jim tried to explain, "Hey, I'm trying to cover your ass. That's what friends do, you know? You're the one who left without any explanation in the middle of an interrogation for a high profile case."
Grissom swore loudly enough to cause Sara to moan softly and stir. He patted her back to soothe her, and then tucked a stray tendril of hair behind her ear as she resettled against his chest. Once he'd gotten that phone call, the rest of the world must have stopped for him.
"Would you rather it be Ecklie on this fact finding mission?"
Rather than acknowledging his point, Grissom remained silent.
"I would've done the same thing if I were in your shoes. You know I would've, in a heartbeat. Hell, most people would've. But here's the crazy part, most people don't know the whole story. You didn't tell a soul. So just like one of those silly kid telephone games, all sorts of gossip is running rampant around the lab. I don't think you'd recognize yourself in some of these stories.
He was becoming annoyed, yet his voice still sounded flat, almost weary. "It's none of their damn business."
"May I remind you that many are simply concerned colleagues, such as Catherine, Warrick, and Nick, who are completely in the dark about this situation, especially since we rarely see each other on a regular basis anymore due to our different shifts. The department is furious that you just disappeared in the middle of a case. But your friends, Gil, the people who know you, are worried. This isn't like you. They're scared, particularly when they heard about Sara. They're pumping me for information, but I've held back, thinking you might like to eventually tell them yourself."
He merely grunted and pretended to watch the game as he clung to Sara. This type of news would be hard for anyone to share, so Brass could understand how overwhelming it might seem to his friend.
Brass had been worried about Sara. They all had. It had frightened them to see Sara carried away from the lab on a stretcher, her face deathly pale. Some claimed to have seen massive amounts of blood in the bathroom or heard hysterical screaming, while others assured him that those were blatant exaggerations. Once the CSIs had a chance to meet as a group and try to put the pieces together, they'd realized that Sara had been throwing up for months now.
Brass noticed it once at a crime scene. At first he was concerned that she might still be drinking, after all, he'd caught her trying to disguise the smell of alcohol on breath with cough drops last year at the Trent compound. And there was also the unfortunate DUI incident. Yet she didn't have that telltale breath that he was all too familiar with, that stench of booze practically oozing through your pours, even though you hadn't had a drink for the last few hours. Thankfully she'd never be as far gone as he'd seen others. He kept his eye out for her, as he could, but he hadn't seen it again, so he'd assumed that she'd only been battling the flu.
When it became apparent during the CSI's discussion that this was indeed a recurring pattern; they became concerned that she was sick, maybe even seriously ill. Maybe it was cancer, God forbid. That poor girl had enough on her plate. The hospital wasn't being helpful, refusing to release any of her medical information, except to her direct supervisor, Gil Grissom.
There were other possibilities too, with many rumors implicating Grissom.
Despite the obstacles, and the overabundance of misinformation he'd obtained from supposed eyewitnesses at the lab, he'd finally managed to put the pieces together. She was still so slim, it hadn't been readily apparent. Sofia confirmed that she'd heard Sara sobbing softly in the ladies room. After contacting the EMTs, Sofia called Grissom upon Sara's urgent request.
"How far along was she?"
Refusing to look at him, Grissom mumbled, "About four months."
He felt the other's man's pain. Three months was typically the all-clear signal. The odds of a miscarriage dropped significantly after that time, thus it was an important milepost. However, it wasn't a guarantee.
Gauging Gil's withdrawn demeanor, he presumed that the pregnancy hadn't been unwelcome. There was a palpable atmosphere of sorrow. As he skimmed his surroundings, he noticed several real estate advertisements that had been shoved aside on the end table. Some of the key words hi-lighted in neon yellow included: "good school district", "3 bedroom" and "large yard". A framed photograph perched on the table also captured his attention.
"Is she going to be okay?"
"Hmm?' Grissom was drifting, and then he nodded after processing Jim's words.
Brass wasn't sure if he should ask, "Was it…"
"A boy," Grissom softly filled in the blank.
He wondered if they'd picked out a name. But this wasn't the time to bring it up, maybe never, knowing Grissom.
However, he couldn't resist asking, "So when did you two finally…get together?"
"After the Robbie Garson case at the Desert State Mental Hospital."
"Wasn't that when that lunatic -"
Grissom cut him off with a harsh glance; he had no desire to revisit that moment. So Brass mentally finished his statement.
Adam Trent tried to attack her.
Then Jim swiftly did the math in his head. So Gil wasn't made of steel after all, he had feet of clay like the rest of the world.
About four months ago.
He caught himself smiling and immediately quashed it. He wasn't sure if it was appropriate but he wanted to alleviate some of the tension.
"It only takes one shot, huh Gil? Guess your guys are in good shape." He didn't expect a response. He wanted to convey that there was hope for another try. "Was she eating okay? Did she need nutritional supplements, being a vegetarian?"
Grissom had no answers; he was stariing at Sara's sleeping features.
Jim wanted to encourage him more about trying again, but it didn't feel right, saying anything else felt too invasive. Besides there could be other factors that he wasn't aware of.
"When were you going to tell us?"
He shrugged with minimal effort. "Is Ecklie out for my head?"
"Well, I think he might be inclined to be if he believes the office gossip that you forced yourself on your subordinate. He needs to hear the entire story."
Brass made an elaborate show of reaching for the frame on the end table so he could examine the picture more closely. Sara was radiant, wearing a white satin off the shoulder gown with a veil that came to her shoulders. She was smiling at Gil, who was returning her eager gaze with equal fervor. They made a handsome couple.
Somewhat sardonically, he explained, "You know, Hodges overheard you refer to Sara as your wife as you spoke with the EMTs in the parking lot. No one took him seriously, of course. Not even me. He was pretty upset. He'll be thrilled to know that he was right after all. So when was the happy occasion?"
"You know," Grissom was tired of talking.
"No, I don't. I just figured it out myself. C'mon Gil, I'm your friend," he urged.
"About three and a half months ago."
Brass smiled. It hadn't been a rushed marriage to preserve their reputations. Most likely, the pregnancy hadn't even been a factor that they'd been aware of. After wasting so many years playing games with each other, once they finally got together, it hadn't taken long to decide what they wanted. He was surprised that they hadn't chosen to tell their friends, to include them in their plans or at least share their news. If it had been anyone but Gil Grissom, he would've been deeply offended.
"I don't understand Gil. Why did you keep it secret? It almost makes sense about the pregnancy. You wanted to be sure she was okay for the first few months. She was having a rough time and you were already in a position where you could regulate her assignments to keep her safe. But why this? There's nothing official against dating within a department, and it's certainly no problem if you marry within the department."
"It might be for Ecklie," he mumbled.
Jim digested that statement then decided that it didn't make sense.
"Since when have you let Ecklie run your life? You've never taken him that seriously when it came to anything that mattered. You've offended the sheriff and an FBI investigator for that matter. Why on earth do you care about what Conrad Ecklie thinks?"
"He could mess things up for Sara. Look how he acted after she and Catherine had that disagreement. He wanted me to fire her," Grissom weakly pointed out as he began to gently rub Sara's back.
"Yeah, but you didn't. You figured out a way to get around it. Besides, even if Ecklie did make a stink, I'm sure there are tons of labs or universities that would jump at the chance to offer you and your wife good jobs."
Grissom's face suddenly became flushed, revealing that this thought hadn't occurred to him. He had done the unthinkable and allowed the intensity of his feelings for a woman to cloud his judgment.
Recent events had taxed his strength. Struggling to control himself, he took a deep breath while closing his eyes. "I don't know." He paused. "It just felt too private. I didn't want anyone to make a fuss…I didn't want to be the center of attention. I didn't want to cause any trouble. I don't know…it's personal." A trace of emotion crept into his voice and his shoulders shook slightly.
Frankly, it was weird to see feelings welling up in Grissom. It made Jim tremendously uncomfortable. He wasn't going to get any more information than that, so he diplomatically excused himself to use the bathroom, to allow the man time to regain his composure.
After re-opening to the door to the bathroom, Brass paused, hearing the murmur of their voices. He didn't want to intrude or upset Sara further, the poor woman was exhausted, so he gave them a minute or two. As he waited, he began to wonder if there would be a good exit cue. When Grissom mentioned something about eating, he seized the moment.
"Can I pick up some food for you? You both look exhausted. How about some sandwiches or a salad?"
"Thanks Jim, we'd appreciate that," Grissom responded, with gratitude.
Sara didn't want to talk; she'd already buried her face against her husband.
As Brass left, he made a mental note to also pick up some ice cream, or chocolate. It couldn't hurt.