Glimpses Through the Forest
Disclaimer: The characters of CSI were created by A. Zuiker, and are the property of CBS and its affiliates. All other characters depicted in these stories are fictional; and there you are.
Nods: thanks again to my two betas, TAE and Sybelle, for keeping me honest to the characters and clear in my direction.
Rating: M for language, sexual situations, ANGST, explicit crime scenes
Where this fits: Six months after Sparks of Interest.
Sara stretched; her back tight from hours on her hands and knees at this desert canyon location. It appeared to be a murder-suicide, but she was refraining from judgment until all the evidence was in. Suddenly, the lighting level changed as the portable lighting units were turned off, signaling the start of a new day. It was just her, Grissom, and Brass at the location, but when she stood, she only saw Brass. Sara packed her kit and reached into her vest for a small water bottle. Walking up to Brass, she noticed a certain melancholy that wasn't present seven hours before when they had arrived at the scene.
"I think I'm done. Have you seen Grissom?" Sara asked, putting down her kit and taking a sip of the now tepid water.
Brass turned to her and in an uncharacteristic move reached for her shoulders, drawing her into a hug. Sara knitted her eyebrows and hugged back, feeling him intensify his grip.
"Hey, Jim, what's wrong?" Sara whispered in his ear.
"Leave him alone, kiddo, for me, please," Jim answered softly.
Sara thought about his request. Grissom had been very quiet for the last two days. She had seen this behavior before and he usually came around. Wednesday, however, after shift, he didn't come home. When she asked him where he was, he couldn't answer her; not wouldn't, but couldn't. Sara felt in her heart that it wasn't another woman; it was another barrier in her relationship with Grissom that she was going to have to challenge.
"Where is he?" Sara asked, pulling back to look at him.
"He walked in that direction." Brass said, pointing towards the rising sun. "Sara, I know he scheduled to go up to my cabin on Monday, but I think he should go now. Here's my set of keys. He has to get away. It's consuming him,"
Sara took the keys and slid them into her pants' pocket. Kissing Jim lightly on the cheek, she went in search of Grissom. Sara walked towards the rising sun, lowering the brim of her Forensics' cap since her sunglasses were in her car. She walked for almost thirty minutes before she heard the echo of rock hitting rock. It was a steady noise; crack, crack, crack. Sara walked over a short outcropping and recognized her friend and lover on his knees wailing on a rock with a smaller rock. Fixated, she crouched and watched him from a distance. He dropped the rock and sat back on his heels and screamed a guttural, primal scream to the sky above him. His scream was cut short, his vocal cords sounding rough and raw as if this was not the first scream of the day. Sara started to slowly walk towards him, brushing the tears from her face. When she was within twenty feet, he struggled to stand. He opened his right hand and moved it slightly behind him, searching for her; somehow knowing she was there. Sara walked up quickly and took his hand in hers. He had his dark glasses on but she saw the tears now drying on his face in the pink of the rising sun. Sara took the keys from her pocket and put them in Grissom's hand, curling his fingers over them. He turned to her, chewing his lip absently as he did when he was thinking. She reached up and gently stroked his chin, feeling his soft beard beneath her fingers. He reached for her hand and kissed it, and then held it tightly to his chest. She felt the pounding of his heart below her hand, feeling his emotions as they raced through his body.
"Sara, I can't do this any more." Grissom whispered.
"Yes, you can, you just need a rest. You haven't had a vacation since Nixon was in office. Go to Brass's cabin. I'll stay at the townhouse and feed your friends." Sara said with a small smile.
Grissom looked at her intently, but did not smile. Instead, he started the long walk back to his car with Sara at his side. When they came over the last rise, they saw Jim leaning against his Taurus, hands in his trouser pockets. Sara picked up her kit and walked to her car as Grissom walked up to Brass. Grissom slipped his glasses off and put them in his felt-lined vest pocket. He cleared his throat, wincing at the pain that caused. Brass looked at the pain in his friend's face and the cuts on his hands from his rock breaking exercise.
"I'd like to take some time off." Grissom said softly.
"I think that's a good idea. I'll tell Rory," Brass said, taking his hands from his trousers and setting them behind him on the car.
Grissom looked everywhere but at Brass, finally, however, he looked at his best friend. Brass reached up and pulled him into a hug.
"I know, remember? I've been there. The cabin is fully stocked. I even left you something in the desk if you get bored." Jim said in his ear.
"Thanks, I can't….I mean, I don't…." Grissom said, standing erect, looking at Brass.
"We'll see you when we see you. Just take care of yourself." Jim said.
Grissom quickly looked for Sara, seeing her putting her kit in her car.
"Yeah, I'll take care of her for you. Now, go on," Jim said, gently pushing him towards her.
Grissom walked up to Sara and looked at his shoes.
"I'll take your kit for you, Griss. I love you. Please don't be gone too long." Sara said, looking up at him, pulling at his collar so she could kiss his lips.
Grissom looked at her, speechless. He held her tightly and then walked to his Denali, got in and drove away. Sara wiped the tears from her face with the heel of her hand, picked up his kit and got into her car, leaving Jim alone in the desert.
Grissom drove; his mind on auto-pilot, his car quiet. Five and a half hours into his journey, he turned off on US-80W, in the direction of Elko. Another hour later and he arrived at Brass's cabin. He got out of the car and walked up to the porch, looking out onto a small lake and the mountains beyond. He opened the front door and walked in. A light was on and someone had been there today as he heard the hum of the refrigerator as it began its cycle. On the kitchen table was a note:
Restocked the fridge. Turned on the generator. No phone, no disturbances.
Roger, your nearest neighbour, four miles due east.
It was pretty much as he remembered it, he thought, looking around. Grissom had been there once, two years ago, with Brass, on a weekend bender. That was all he could remember. Brass said Grissom needed to get drunk and that they did.
Now, he was tired and just wanted to sleep. He put the keys on the hook by the door and walked into the master bedroom. Reaching into his pockets, he emptied them of his nine to five trappings, finally removing the vest itself. Slipping off his loafers, he stretched out on the bed, pulling the wool blanket up to his chin. He reached up and pulled off his glasses, barely making the bedside table before falling asleep.
Grissom awoke to the sleep pattern that had recently taken over his life. He would sleep for thirty minutes and then wake up from a nightmare that he couldn't always remember. When he finally gave up trying to sleep, hours later, the cabin was almost cold. He was tired but he needed warmth and some sustenance. He put on his glasses and shoes, and found a flannel shirt hanging on a hook from the back of the bedroom door. He slipped it on, briefly enjoying the fact that he could fit into a forty two regular. Slowly, he began to walk back into the great room to start a fire. Crouching down, Grissom opened the flue and started to lay wood on the grate. Ten minutes later, the heat started to fill the room. He walked to the cabinet to get a glass and a bottle of bourbon. Opening the freezer door, he pulled out two ice cubes and put them in his glass. He followed that with two inches of bourbon, topping it with tap water. Walking back into the great room, he sat in front of the fire place and tried to diagram how he had lost control of his life.
The previous Tuesday 6:00am
His phone rang and he reached into his pocket to retrieve it.
"Hey, I've got multiple 419s at the Bonanza Gaming Arcade." Brass said.
"Is that on Monroe Boulevard?" Grissom asked, turning his Denali around.
"Yeah, past the McDonald's," Brass affirmed.
"Okay, I'm ten minutes away." Grissom replied.
"See you soon," Brass said, and hung up the phone.
Grissom speed-dialed Sara, who picked up after two rings.
"Sara, find Greg and meet me at the Bonanza Gaming Arcade, multiple 419s." Grissom said, turning through an intersection.
"Gotcha, see you in fifteen minutes." Sara said.
"Right, bye," Grissom said, closing his phone.
He reached over to his stereo, hit CD1, and turned up the volume. Another Brick in the Wall vibrated through his car as he skillfully drove to the crime scene. Pulling up, he noted four ambulances and Jim Brass looking very pale. Grissom took his kit from the back of his car and walked up to his friend.
"What went on here?" Grissom asked, setting his case down.
"Eight dead teenagers and two on their way to the ER," Brass said with a sigh.
"What ever happened to basic fist-fights?" Grissom wondered out loud, picking up his kit and walking inside.
The first room past the cash register was dark, lit only by the lights from the different pinball and electronic video games. Grissom took out his flashlight and stood in the room as he played the beam over the different surfaces. The room smelled of gunpowder, sweat, blood, and pine cleaner. Grissom set his case down and started to walk through the room. There were five bodies sprawled on the floor in various positions. He continued into the next room, lit only by black lights, and found the other three bodies. As Grissom turned back to his kit, he heard a watch alarm go off. Following the noise, he continued further into the building. He shifted his flashlight into his left hand and drew his weapon in his right. The sound seemed to be coming from behind a door. As he approached, Grissom saw the door handle turn.
"Las Vegas Crime Lab!" Grissom announced, laying his flashlight over his gun.
The door opened and a young man in a blood soaked t-shirt walked two steps towards him, his gun pointing at Grissom's chest.
"Put the gun down," Grissom commanded, his heart beating so fast he thought he could hear the blood actually moving.
"Move or die, your choice," the kid replied.
"You need a doctor," Grissom said, not moving an inch.
"S'allgood, now, drop the gun or die," he answered.
"Grissom?" Sara called from the other room.
Grissom turned slightly towards her voice and saw the young man bring his other hand to classic shooting stance and pull the trigger. At fifteen feet away, Grissom knew the kid wasn't going to miss him, so he shot back. The kid dropped immediately, but Grissom didn't feel a bullet. The kid had pulled slightly left, aiming for Sara.
"Grissom?" Sara called, her voice showing her concern.
"It's over, I'm fine," Grissom said, holstering his weapon, taking a few steps and crouching to look at the dead kid now at his feet.
"What the hell happened?" Jim asked as he ran into the room, his gun drawn.
"He was hiding in the closet," Grissom said, standing to look at his friend.
"You okay?" Jim asked, holstering his gun.
"Yeah, Sara distracted him; he shot towards her voice. I shot him." Grissom said, in a matter of fact tone.
"All right, why don't you come outside for a minute and I'll take your statement. Then you can join the team." Brass suggested.
"Sara? Where's Greg?" Grissom asked, seeing her standing next to him for the first time.
"I dropped him at McDonald's to get us some food. I figured this might be a long session." Sara explained, looking at him with concern.
"Okay, well, let's start in the front and work our way backwards. I'll be back in a few minutes." Grissom said, walking out of the room towards the light of the street.
Brass followed him closely and Sara took one more look around the room before walking back to start processing the front room.
Walking out into the early morning sunlight, Grissom squinted and stopped. Brass gently grabbed his elbow and guided him to his car in the shade. Grissom sat against the hood and looked at his shoes. There was blood spatter from the vic.
"Gil, you can turn off your flashlight," Brass suggested.
Grissom looked at him and then at the flashlight in his left hand. He reached his right hand to it and noticed a slight tremor as he turned the flashlight off. He slipped it into his vest pocket.
"Grissom, here's some coffee," Greg said, handing him a Starbuck's cup.
Grissom looked at him with a smile.
"Well you can't drink McDonald's coffee. We have to maintain our standards. It was right next door." Greg smiled in return.
"Thanks, I'll be in in a minute," Grissom said, taking a much needed hit of caffeine.
Greg looked at Brass, who nodded quietly, and walked to the car to deposit the bag full of sandwiches before entering the crime scene. Brass stood in front of Grissom, watching him closely.
"Gil, I need your gun," Brass said softly.
With a fluid motion, Grissom removed his gun from his holster and flipped it around to hand it stock first to him. Brass raised an eyebrow at the ease with which Grissom handled the gun and carefully took it from him, checking the safety and slipping it into his jacket pocket.
"Tell me again, what happened." Jim asked, pulling his pad and pencil out.
Grissom finished his coffee and his detailed description and stood slowly, walking to the back of his Denali. Brass followed him, unsure of what he was doing. Grissom opened the back door and pulled out a brown paper evidence bag. He put on a pair of gloves, sat on the rear of the car and removed his shoes, putting them in the bag. Standing in his socks, he reached in for a pair of coveralls. He pulled out another evidence bag and proceeded to unzip his trousers.
"Gil, man, what are you doing?" Brass asked, spreading his sports coat to hide Grissom's half dressed body.
"I noticed blood spatter on my trousers as well." Grissom noted, putting his trousers in the open evidence bag.
Grissom reached for the coveralls and pulled them up to his hips. He unbuttoned his shirt, removed it and slipped his arms in the sleeves of the garment.
"Hey, Gil? Don't take this the wrong way, but, when did you lose the weight?" Brass asked, having noticed Grissom's bare torso.
Grissom put the bags in the back of the car and turned around to face his friend, pulling off the rubber gloves.
"Since Sara and I started dating, I've been trying to eat better. After that incident with Ecklie last spring, I started going to the gym near my house." Grissom explained, pulling a pair of sneakers from his car and putting them on.
"Grissom, what kind of gym are you going to?" Brass asked.
Grissom stood, shut the car door, turned to face Brass, and started to zip up his coveralls.
"A boxing gym," Grissom replied, leaving him to join the team.
Grissom buried himself in the crime scene analysis with Sara and Greg, keeping his comments short and his thoughts to himself. After five grueling hours, they packed their evidence and went back to the lab. Grissom pulled out his evidence bags with his clothes and handed them to Sara.
"I guess I'll log these in." Sara said, looking at him.
"Thanks," Grissom said as he walked to his office.
Grissom closed the door behind him and leaned back against it, closing his eyes. He went to his desk and put his lab key ring and phone down. He felt the panic attack start as he remembered the boy's face when he realized he had been shot. He started to hyperventilate and staggered to the couch, sitting heavily. Putting his head in his hands, he tried to control his breathing; to slow it down. There was a knock on the door and Doc Robbins walked in.
"Hey, Gil, oh damn," he said walking quickly to the couch, the door closing automatically behind him. "Gil, look at me," he commanded.
Grissom raised his head to look at him. His face was red, and there was panic in his eyes. Doc reached down and helped Grissom to his feet, letting his crutch fall to the floor. Feeling Grissom's hands on his shoulders, Doc reached both hands behind Grissom's neck.
"Easy, Gil; nice easy breaths. You're okay, I'm here." Doc soothed.
Finally, after several minutes, Grissom was calm.
"Mind telling me what that was about?" Doc asked, looking at him over his glasses.
"There was a shooting. I shot someone." Grissom answered quietly, looking at the floor.
"I know, and Brass said it was self-defense." Doc said, softly. "Look, it's noon, you should go home,"
"We just got back. We're processing evidence." Grissom replied, raising his eyes to look at Doc.
"Actually, I think Catherine's shift has started that already." Doc said, dropping his hands to his sides.
"Really?" Grissom asked, reaching down to get Doc's crutch.
"Yeah, really. Let's go find Sara and get you two home." Doc suggested, taking his crutch from Grissom.
Grissom tiredly picked up his lab key ring and followed Doc out of the office to find Brass heading their way.
"Jim, can you get him home? I've got to get back to work," Doc said, heading back to the morgue.
"Doc, did you need me for something?" Grissom asked.
"No, it can wait," Doc answered, not turning around.
Grissom gave Doc's retreating back a look, raising an eyebrow. Digging his fists into the pockets of his coveralls, he looked back at Brass.
"Actually, I need you to come to the station to talk to IAD. The Sheriff and Ecklie are going to meet us." Brass said.
Grissom squinted at him and then shrugged. Brass led the way out to his car and Grissom followed.
Sara walked down the hallway and into the break room for a soda.
"I thought you went home," a voice said from behind her.
Sara turned around to see Catherine, sipping a cup of coffee.
"Nah, I was processing Grissom's clothes from the second scene. Have you seen him, by the way?" Sara said, opening her Diet Coke and yawning.
"No, did you try calling him?" Catherine asked.
"Yeah, it goes straight to voice mail." Sara said, her face showing her concern.
"He'll turn up. Maybe he's with Doc." Catherine suggested.
"Good idea, thanks," Sara said, walking out of the room.
"Hey, Sara," Nick called from the Trace lab doorway.
"Hey, Nick, have you seen Grissom?"
"He and Brass left about fifteen minutes ago. Aren't you off-shift?" he asked.
"Yeah, I was just finishing with Grissom's clothes." Sara said, walking up to him.
"What a thing," Nick said, shaking his head. "How is he?"
"I don't know. He says he's okay but he's been pretty quiet for the last week, since that floater at the golf course." Sara said.
"Yeah, well it was a kid." Nick said, his face darkening. "Look, I've got to finish this. Maybe we can do dinner sometime?" he said, with a small smile.
"I'd love to," Sara said, smiling in return.
"Great, it's a date!" Nick said, squeezing her shoulder.
"What, you two are dating now? What's Grissom gonna say?" Warrick said, rounding the corner from the locker room.
"Cut it out, we're just setting up dinner at some future point." Sara said, with mock anger.
"Ah, where is Griss, anyway?" Warrick asked.
"Nick said he left with Brass," Sara said.
"Probably meeting with IAD for the shooting," Warrick surmised.
"I've gotta get some sleep. I'll see you guys later." Sara said, walking away from her friends.
"Sleep well," Nick said, disappearing into the lab.
"Take care," Warrick said, walking into the break room.
Brass pulled into his parking spot at the precinct and looked at Grissom. The muscle in his jaw was jumping and he was biting his cheek; classic Grissom.
"We're here," Jim said, softly.
Grissom grunted and got out of the car, squinting in the bright sunlight as he walked into the precinct. Brass directed him to Interrogation room 4 and they walked in.
"Hi, Gil. Thanks for dropping everything and coming over here." Sheriff Rory Atwater said, reaching his hand out.
Grissom shook his hand and sat at the conference table. Conrad Ecklie, administrator for the lab, sat at the end of the table with his laptop. Two men in non-descript suits entered the room.
"Captain Brass," the taller man said. "This is Lt. Paul Caprell," he said motioning to his associate.
"Lt. Johnson, Lt. Caprell, this is Dr. Gil Grissom of the crime lab." Brass said.
"Doctor," the men said, offering their hands.
"Lieutenant," Grissom responded, shaking each man's hand.
"Shall we get started?" Brass asked as Lt. Johnson sat opposite Grissom.
"Dr. Grissom, this is a routine investigation into your discharge of a weapon resulting in the death of Tycel Howard, age seventeen, this morning at the Bonanza Gaming arcade." Lt. Johnson started.
"Captain Brass, why wasn't the site secure?" Rory asked.
"There were eight dead bodies, two severely injured teenagers. We missed a closet." Brass answered honestly.
"Dr. Grissom, how far away were you from the victim?" Lt. Johnson asked.
"Fifteen feet," Grissom replied.
"And he missed you?" Ecklie quipped from behind his laptop.
"Yeah, Conrad. He heard Sara's voice and shot at her instead." Grissom said with a little more venom then he meant to.
Brass looked at Rory and then back at Grissom.
"Dr. Grissom, do you know where your shot went?" Lt. Johnson asked, getting Grissom's attention back to him.
"Center chest, I think," Grissom replied softly.
"Actually, Dr. Grissom, your bullet hit the victim in the third eye." Lt. Caprell remarked.
Grissom looked at him, his right knee started to bounce under the table as he fought to keep himself calm.
"Dr. Grissom, when did you qualify?" Lt. Caprell continued.
Brass, Rory and Ecklie both looked up and then at Grissom.
"I started going to the range a little over a year ago," Grissom replied.
"Do you go to the range frequently?" Lt. Caprell asked.
"Once or twice a week," Grissom admitted.
"Why did you start going to the range?" Lt. Johnson asked.
Grissom looked at Brass and then at a fixed point on the table.
"I had been threatened," Grissom said softly.
"By whom?" Brass asked.
"It doesn't matter," Lt. Johnson said.
"Like hell it doesn't," Brass said, pulling up a chair and invading Grissom's space. "Who was it? Why didn't you say anything?"
"Captain Brass, this investigation is to make sure that Dr. Grissom was using justifiable force this morning." Lt. Johnson interrupted. "Dr. Grissom, did you fear for your life?"
"He said he would kill me if I didn't put the gun down and get out of his way." Grissom said quietly, staring at his hands.
"But you didn't put the gun down, did you?" Lt. Johnson asked.
"No," Grissom answered.
"Would you have?" Rory asked.
"No," Grissom answered, looking at him, his eyes dark blue.
"Why did you discharge your weapon?" the younger IAD man asked.
"He shot at my team," Grissom said. "He had to go through me and them to get out of the building.
"Your team was CSI Sidle and CSI Sanders?" Ecklie asked.
"Yes, Conrad," Grissom said, lowering his voice.
"Who did he shoot at?" Ecklie persisted.
"He shot at the direction of Sara's voice, and before he could move his gun back to me, I shot him." Grissom said evenly.
A silence came over the room. The only sound was the air handlers and Ecklie's fingertips on his laptop.
"I'm satisfied," Lt. Johnson said, standing. "Dr. Grissom, your weapon is with ballistics. It will be returned to you within forty-eight hours."
"Thank you," Grissom said, standing as well.
"Captain Brass, may I see you outside?" Lt. Johnson said, walking to the door.
"Sure. Gil, I'll drive you back in five minutes." Brass said.
"That's okay, Captain, I'll drive him back," Rory said, walking to the door.
"Thanks, Rory. See you later, Jim." Grissom said.
The fire crackled loudly and brought Grissom back to the present. His bourbon glass was empty. Getting slowly to his feet, he walked to the kitchen. Standing at the sink, he looked outside, watching the shadows on the trees. Grissom poured himself another bourbon and walked out onto the porch. Sitting on a wooden Adirondack-style chair, Grissom listened to the forest as his mind wandered again.
Last Tuesday 2:00pm
"Thanks for the lift, Rory." Grissom said, getting out of the Taurus.
"Sure Gil, take care," Rory said, driving away.
Grissom reached into his coverall pocket and found his car keys only to remember his phone was on his desk. He walked into the lab building and continued to his office.
"Grissom!" Catherine's voice called from Lab 2.
Grissom stopped and walked back, standing in the doorway and leaning against the buck.
"Hey, need me?" Grissom asked.
"Well, yes and no. First of all, I wanted to ask how you are." She said, walking up to him. "Secondly, did Sara get a hold of you?"
"I'm fine, and no she didn't. I left my phone on my desk. I'm sorry, Cath, I need to get home." Grissom said, backing into the hallway.
"Sleep well, see you tomorrow." Catherine said, going back to the lab table.
"Thanks," Grissom said, continuing to his office.
He unlocked his door and headed for his desk. He put his lab key ring down and picked up his phone. He looked at his phone and groaned when he saw twenty missed calls. As he made his way to his car, he scrolled through the messages. They were all from Sara, the last one ten minutes ago. He dialed her cell.
"I'm sorry, I left my phone on my desk." he said simply.
"Are you okay?" Sara asked.
"I'm on my way home." Grissom replied, not answering her question.
"I'm at my house. Do you want me to come over?" Sara asked.
"Honey, I need to be alone right now. Hell, I'm just going to go to sleep anyway. I'll see you at work tonight." Grissom said, electronically unlocking the door and getting into his car.
"Oh, uhm, okay, there's some leftovers in the fridge when you get hungry." Sara said, her voice wavering with emotion.
"Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite!" Grissom said, starting his car engine.
"I'll do my best; my bugman has all the bedbugs…" Sara said with a small smile.
He didn't hang up and neither did she, listening to their breaths over the phone.
"I love you," Grissom said, closing his eyes and leaning back against the head rest.
"I love you, too," Sara responded. "I'll see you tonight, bye,"
"Bye," Grissom said, shutting his phone.
Opening his eyes, he turned the volume down on the radio before turning it on. He pressed CD5 and the strains of Charlie Parker played through his Denali. Grissom put the car in gear and headed home.
Grissom pulled into his driveway and headed up the stairs to his townhouse. He unlocked the door and walked in, starting his routine. He divested himself of his office electronics, keys and wallet. He pulled off his sneakers, leaving them where they fell. He unzipped his coveralls to his sternum and headed to the stereo, selecting a CD that Warrick had burned for him full of the blues. Adjusting the volume, Ella Fitzgerald's voice echoed through the living room. Grissom looked at the time, two forty-five. He leaned down and slid the liquor cabinet door open to pull out the bottle of Maker's Mark. He set it on the counter, and went into the kitchen to get a glass. Opening the cabinet, he found one of the new 'dimple' glasses that Sara had picked up last month at Crate & Barrel. Grissom filled the glass liberally with bourbon and topped it off with tap water. He hoped the drink would smooth the edginess he was starting to feel. He was physically tired, but his brain was running on speed. He walked to the sofa and sat down heavily. Grissom put his feet up on the coffee table and took a long sip of his drink before leaning his head back on the cushion. He coasted, listening to Miles Davis, sipping his bourbon.
He fell asleep, his brain finally softened by the liquor, his body by fatigue. True to form, after twenty minutes he started to dream. He replayed the shootout at the arcade but this time, Sara was in the doorway of the room as the victim discharged his weapon. Grissom screamed as Sara fell backwards and then he emptied the entire clip into the victim. He ran to Sara's side but she was dead; her eyes open, her skin cool to the touch. Grissom opened his eyes, his heart pounding, tears streaming down his face as he thought of losing Sara. Greedily, he finished the bourbon. He pushed the heel of his hand to his eyes, and wiped the tears before walking to the front door. He double-checked that he had locked it, a city habit, he thought, and took the bottle of bourbon, refilling his glass. Drinking it quickly, he walking unsteadily to the sofa and sat down. Within a few minutes, he fell asleep again. The dream started again, but this time, Greg was the target, dying a cinematic death full of arterial spray. Grissom awoke, sweat streaming down his face. He looked at his watch, three fifty. He was too jumpy to sleep. He had been drinking but it didn't seem to have had an effect. Grissom went upstairs, stripped out of his coveralls, and took a shower.
Feeling somewhat refreshed, he put on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt. He pulled out his gym bag and loaded it with work clothes before heading down the stairs to put on his sneakers. Gathering up his wallet and electronics, he took his keys and left the townhouse.
Grissom got into his car and reached into the middle divider for a piece of Dentyne gum. He unwrapped it and started to chew to get some focus on the task at hand and not at the arcade. He reached his destination fifteen minutes later, grabbed his bag and went in.
"Hey Griss," a man with a mop called.
"Hey, Ray, how's it hanging?" Grissom asked, heading to the locker room.
"Five by five, Griss, can't complain. And you? You're late today."
"Yeah, work, I'm fine," Grissom explained.
"All right then, take it easy." Ray replied.
Grissom smiled and walked into the locker room. He went to his locker, unlocked it and put in his bag. He removed his gloves, shut and locked the locker, before slipping them on. He walked back onto the floor and went to one of the speed bags. Time stood still.
"Griss? Griss? Ya gotta shower, man. You have to be at work at ten and you have to eat," Tommy Warren said from the other side of the body bag.
Grissom stopped and looked at him and then the clock on the wall. His hair was dripping wet, as was the rest of him. He reached out his hands for Tommy to unlace his gloves. Tommy handed Grissom his gloves and a dry towel.
"Thanks, Tommy," Grissom said, heading to the locker room.
"You're welcome, see you tomorrow." Tommy replied with a smile.
Grissom opened his locker and pulled out his clean clothes. He stripped and put his wet workout clothes and gloves in the bag. Taking the towel, he tied it around his waist and hung his clean clothes in his locker before walking to the shower.
Thirty minutes later he was dressed and heading for his car. He looked at his cell phone and noticed a missed call; Sara. Pulling out his keys, he unlocked the doors and then called her.
"Hi, sorry I missed your call," he said, putting his bag in the back.
"I was wondering if you had eaten." Sara asked.
"No, I'm just leaving Slim's now. Do you want to meet up at DiNardo's?" Grissom asked, getting into his car.
"That would be great. I'll see you there." Sara said.
"See you soon, bye," Grissom said.
"Bye," Sara said, hanging up.
Grissom reached for his bourbon glass and shivered. He walked into the cabin and locked the door behind him. Standing in the kitchen, he opened the fridge door and stared. Nothing caught his fancy. He closed the door and opened the first cabinet; dry goods. He smiled when he saw a small yellow bag of Vigo rice. He took the small bag and set it on the counter. Filling a Corning ware saucepan with water according to the package, he added the rice. Grissom put the pan in the microwave and set the timer. He refilled his bourbon glass and walked into the great room to tend to the fire. Adding two more logs, he sat in the large leather chair and his mind resumed its journey.
Previous Tuesday 8:45pm
Grissom pulled into DiNardo's parking lot and saw Sara's Tahoe. He locked his car and walked into the restaurant. She had chosen a booth in the corner and was sipping on a glass of water. He walked to their table and leaned over to give her a quick kiss. Sliding in to sit opposite her in the booth, Grissom reached for his water and drank half the glass at once.
"You look tired," Sara commented, extending her hand on the table, palm up.
"I couldn't sleep," Grissom confessed, reaching for her hand.
"How long were you at Slim's?" Sara asked, rubbing her thumb over his hand.
"A couple of hours," he answered, staring at their hands.
He looked up at her briefly before being interrupted by their waiter.
"Do you folks know what you want?" he asked.
"I'll have the vegetarian lasagna and a small green salad." Sara said, looking at him.
"That sounds great, make it two," Grissom said, looking at the waiter as well.
"Anything to drink?" the waiter asked.
"Just water for me," Grissom replied.
"Works for me as well," Sara confirmed.
The waiter took their menus and a silence descended over their table.
"Warrick said you had an IAD review. How did it go?" Sara asked, looking at him.
"I'm cleared, although Ecklie was trying to put you into the equation." Grissom said, looking anywhere but in her eyes.
Sara looked at him, her left eyebrow arching in question.
"He was hinting that I shot the perp because he shot at you." Grissom explained.
"He didn't shoot at me, Griss," Sara said.
"Yeah, he shot at your voice and then I shot him." Grissom said, squeezing her hand lightly.
Sara narrowed her eyes and looked across the table. She saw the fatigue in his face but she also saw a fear or a sense of unrest that wasn't present before. They sat quietly, holding hands, until their dinner arrived. They ate quickly, paid the cheque, and then headed for their respective cars.
Walking hand in hand, she pulled him around in front of her and kissed him Grissom responded, but it wasn't his normal fireworks-style kiss. Sara reached up and brushed a tear from her eye.
"Honey, please don't cry, please," Grissom said softly.
"Grissom, you're upset and you need to talk to someone. If you can't talk to me, maybe you can talk to Brass or Doc, but, sweetheart; you have to get it out there." Sara said, tears now freely streaming down her face.
He reached for her and hugged her in true Grissom style; almost making her breathless.
"Please don't worry. I can't talk about it right now but I'll be fine." Grissom said, breaking the embrace before giving her a passionate kiss.
He pulled away and walked to his car, afraid that she'd see his hands shaking. He unlocked his car, started the engine and drove to work. Sara stood in the parking lot and wrapped her arms around herself, trying to regain control. She got into her car and followed Grissom to the lab.
The buzzer for the microwave went off and brought Grissom back to the present. He carried his half full bourbon glass into the kitchen and removed the pan of rice from the microwave. Resetting the timer for five minutes, he topped off his bourbon and started to pace. The buzzer went off again and he spooned half of the rice into a bowl before picking up his bourbon glass and heading back to his chair by the fire. Grissom sat and ate the hot rice; sipping his bourbon, and his mind went back to Tuesday night.
Previous Tuesday 9:45pm
Grissom parked his Denali and walked directly to the front desk. He didn't want to talk to anyone, but he had no choice as he had inadvertently locked himself out.
"Steven, is Marty here? I locked my keys in my office." Grissom asked.
"Sure, Grissom, give me a minute." Steven replied, picking up the walkie talkie.
A few minutes later, an older man in a grey shirt and matching Dickie pants with a large key ring in his hand walked up to Grissom.
"Hey, Doc. Relax; it happens to everyone at some time or another." Marty said, leading the way.
He unlocked Grissom's office and waited until he walked inside.
"Thanks, Marty," Grissom said, hand on the door.
"You're welcome," Marty said with a big smile, heading back down the hallway.
Grissom turned on the lights and noticed the stack of messages in his in-box. He turned on his computer and sat down, looking through the messages; nothing of real importance. His emails contained that night's current assignments, which he printed out. He looked further and saw emails from Catherine, Doc and the lab in reference to the shooting of the day before. Catherine was able to piece together what happened from the bullets and the GSR. It was a straight gangbanger shootout. Grissom was officially cleared of the death of Tycel Howard, as it was self-defense. Grissom stood up and grabbed the printouts and his lab keys before heading to the break room.
He walked in to find Sofia, Greg, and Sara quietly sipping coffee . Grissom's bug mug was full and steaming at the head of the table. He picked it up and took a small sip, smiling at Greg.
"Sofia, did you finish with your smash and grab? I didn't see the report." Grissom asked.
"Yes, all done: paperwork is in the system." She replied.
"Good, tonight we are all working together. We have two apparent drownings at Harvey Lewis's house." Grissom said, taking another cautious sip of the hot coffee.
"Whoa, the movie producer?" Greg asked.
"Yeah, look it's going to be a madhouse between the press and the P.D. We're taking two vehicles, okay? Pack for the night, I doubt we'll be back." Grissom said, picking up his mug and walking quickly to his office to get himself prepared for the long night ahead.
"Okay, well, I guess I'll ride with Grissom and the two of you will ride together. See you in the parking lot in five minutes." Sara said, standing.
"Sounds good," Greg said, standing as well.
"Is he all right?" Sofia asked.
"Grissom? He's in his element," Sara replied, evading the question.
She walked to the locker room and grabbed her windbreaker before heading to the lot to pick up her kit from her car. Grissom appeared a few minutes later and unlocked his car. She placed her kit near his and sat next to him, waiting for Greg and Sofia. They walked out with their kits and got into Greg's Tahoe. Grissom started the engine and they were off to the tony suburbs of Las Vegas and the mansion of Harvey Lewis.
Twenty minutes later, in a ride absent of conversation, they pulled up to the mansion. The LVPD let them through the iron gates and they followed the long driveway up to the house. Grissom got out of the car, Sara at his side, and they removed their kits, heading to the front door.
"It's around back," Jim Brass said theatrically as he popped his head over the garden gate.
Grissom arched an eyebrow and walked to the gate. He opened the latch and walked in, Sara on his heels. The pool lights were on and the remaining forty party guests were trying to sober up, sitting in various states of inebriation on the pool furniture. Grissom stopped as he saw the small body at the bottom of the pool. He put his kit down and winced, rubbing his hand over his eyes. Sara looked at the body and put her kit down as well.
"Joshua Lewis, age eight," Brass said softly.
Sara looked at Grissom's face and gently touched his arm.
"Jim, there were two drownings?" she asked.
"Yes, the second victim is inside." Brass replied.
"Sara, please take Sofia and process the other victim." Grissom said in a monotone.
"All right," Sara said, looking down the path to the garden gate to see Greg and Sofia entering.
"Sofia, you're with me. Greg, you're working with Grissom." Sara instructed.
Greg looked in the pool and saw the body near the drain.
"Can you swim?" Grissom asked, not looking at him.
"Uhm, no, I'm, uh, no," Greg sputtered.
Grissom looked at Brass, who shook his head, indicating that he didn't have anyone to retrieve the body. David, the assistant ME arrived and looked at the body.
"I'm early, I guess." David said, turning to look at Grissom.
Grissom had kicked off his shoes and removed his socks. He handed Greg his electronics, the contents of his trouser pockets, his vest and his glasses as he unbuttoned his loose shirt. His muscles rippled nervously right before he casually dove into the pool. He opened his eyes and saw the boy. Kicking harder, he reached the bottom and saw the child's hand was stuck in the drain. He kicked to the surface.
"Flat head screwdriver," he ordered, swimming to Greg.
Greg opened his kit and found a four-way screwdriver, setting it for flat head before handing it to him, handle first. Grissom swam back over the drain and dove again. Brass watched, looking at his watch as Grissom tried to free the dead child. Grissom unscrewed the grate over the drain and the child was freed. He slipped the screwdriver into his back pocket and gently he kicked up to the surface. Gasping as he reached the air Grissom kicked to where David and his staff were crouched to receive the body.
"Watch the grate. His fingers weren't broken." Grissom advised, handing the body up in one big push.
"Got him," David said, taking the boy with the help of an associate and laying him out on the pool deck before starting his exam.
Grissom swam to the ladder and climbed out. Jim handed him a house towel.
"You were under almost two minutes, are you okay?" Brass looked at him.
"Yeah, you got a dry sweatshirt?" Grissom asked, looking at the child on the pool deck.
"I do," a deep voice from behind them answered.
"Chance Lewis, may I introduce you to Gil Grissom of the crime lab." Jim said.
"Mr. Lewis," Grissom said, dripping wet, the pale blue towel across his shoulders.
"Dr. Grissom, I am surprised and honored that you retrieved my nephew's body from the pool. I would have thought an underling would have done it." Chance said, handing Grissom a Starlight Productions sweatshirt.
Grissom grunted as he put on the sweatshirt, his body already feeling the chills.
"You'll have to excuse me." Grissom said, handing the towel to Brass and walking towards the body.
David looked up at Grissom and continued his exam. Greg crouched opposite him as did Grissom.
"First look, straight drowning, but I won't know for sure until I take him back to the lab." David said to them.
"Time of death?" Grissom asked.
"Nine, maybe eight," David said, standing.
"Thanks, David, see you back at the lab." Grissom said, standing as well.
"Sure, Grissom," David said, turning to instruct his men to get the body on the gurney carefully.
"Grissom?" Greg asked, standing next to him, handing Grissom his glasses.
"Yeah," Grissom said, not focusing entirely on Greg.
"I can't swim." Greg said, looking at the ground.
Grissom turned to look at him, hearing something in his voice.
"I grew up near the beach. It's no big deal." Grissom replied.
"My little sister, Josie," Greg started and then turned away from Grissom.
Grissom reached over to the younger man, putting his hands on Greg's shoulders.
"She was drowning, I went in to save her, but she panicked and I started to drown too. Uncle Stosh jumped in to try to save us. He could only save me." Greg said his voice full of emotion.
"How old were you?" Grissom asked softly.
"Seven, she was five," Greg whispered.
"Can you handle this?" Grissom asked.
"Yeah, I can. I just wanted you to know that if I could have brought the victim up I would have. I just can't," Greg said.
"All right, take it easy. Here's your screwdriver, we need to check the traps." Grissom said, trying to get Greg focused on the case.
"Right," Greg said with a sigh, reaching for his kit.
They walked to the first of the four different traps servicing the large pool. Removing the cover they started to process. An hour later, they were done. Brass walked up to them, looking at their faces, gesturing the open pool furniture to sit and discuss the case.
"Party started at eight; lots of booze, heavy food. There were fifty invited guests but security reported that there were twice that many here. The first victim, Joshua, was noticed at about 9:30pm when the pool lights were turned on. The second victim, Jessica was discovered around the same time." Brass said.
"How old is Jessica?" Grissom asked.
"She was six," Brass said.
Greg got up abruptly and walked quickly out of the crime scene.
"His sister drowned at five. He was eight and tried to save her. I've got to send him back to the lab." Grissom commented, watching Greg leave the area.
"How are you doing?" Brass asked, looking at his friend's tired face.
"Me? I'm fine," Grissom replied, looking back at him.
"You shot somebody, yesterday." Brass commented.
"But I'm fine, today," Grissom noted, standing up to look for Greg.
"Hey, Gil, " Brass said, standing in front of him. "Seriously, who threatened you? I mean man, Johnson checked you out. You've been going to the range once a week. He says your weapon's cleaner than his."
"Formansky threatened me. Told me that one day I'd be unarmed on a job and get into trouble, and no cop would help me." Grissom murmured, looking at him, his blue eyes red rimmed from fatigue.
"Sick son of a bitch. I wish you'd told me when it happened." Brass said disgustedly.
"Look, it's done. I've got to go find Greg." Grissom said, walking towards the front of the house.
Grissom stretched and then walked to the kitchen with his empty rice bowl. He walked back to the great room and lay down on the couch. Within minutes he was asleep.
Again his nightmares invaded his sleep. Grissom woke up, his throat raw from screaming in his sleep, he suspected, his face flushed, his breathing hard and fast. He got to his feet and felt a familiar pain start behind his eyes. He'd been expecting a migraine with all of the crap going on and his lack of sleep. He couldn't remember if he had any pills with him in the car. Exhausted, he went to the kitchen and made a pot of coffee. While it perked, he went outside and checked his car to look for his meds. After five minutes, he gave up his search. Walking back to the cabin, he put two more logs on the dwindling fire and poured a cup of coffee spiking it with some Maker's Mark. He turned off all of the lights in the cabin, sat in the leather chair near the fire, and shut his eyes, practicing his relaxation exercises.
A loud noise woke Grissom up from the most solid sleep he had had in several days. Cracking his neck from the awkward position he had slept in, he listened intently, trying to identify the noise. He smiled when he realized he had been awakened by thunder. The rain was beating loudly on the roof and he just smiled more. Grissom got to his feet and walked to the front door. He opened it and was greeted with rain in his face. The forest smelled fresh and wonderful, but too cold for an outdoor shower. He shut the door and removed the carafe of cold coffee, placing it in the microwave for a quick heat. He felt better; less edgy more calm. Without his medication, there were no side effects; unfortunately the headache wasn't totally gone, but the pain was acceptable.
Walking to the fireplace, he reset the fire and started it fresh. Soon, the wet chill was replaced by comforting warmth. The microwave beeped and he poured himself a hot cup of coffee. Sitting by the fire, he sipped the hot drink, letting the caffeine open his blood vessels, easing the pain in his head.
"Greg," Grissom called, finding him alone under a large tree in the garden.
Greg didn't move, intent on something he was holding in his hands.
Grissom walked closer to see he was holding a faded colour photo of a young boy and a little girl.
"Greg, I need you to take our evidence to the lab and help Mia get a jump on this." Grissom directed, keeping his voice soft, moving to stand in front of him.
"Okay," Greg said, his voice breaking with emotion.
Grissom wasn't sure what to do, but he put his hands on Greg's shoulders to comfort him. Greg leaned in to him and cried softly on his shoulder. Grissom stroked his back, as Sara had done to him when he was upset. Greg started to calm and then pulled away, wiping the tears from his face and eyes.
"I'm sorry, Grissom, that was unprofessional," Greg said, clearing his throat.
"No, it was human. Look I'm going to go check on the ladies. Let me know if you find anything probative." Grissom said and then walked back to the pool area to put on his shoes.
Greg followed him and picked up the evidence bags and his kit.
"Grissom, will you take Sofia in your car, then?" Greg asked, his mind thinking literally now.
"Yeah, I'll take them both to the lab. Call me later," Grissom said.
"Okay," Greg said, hesitating slightly before heading off to his car.
Grissom picked up his kit and walked into the house. The uniform pointed up the stairs and Grissom continued. He heard Sara's voice down the hallway and followed it. Setting his kit in the hallway, he stood in the doorway.
"How're you doing?" he asked.
"Too much evidence," Sara remarked.
"What?" Grissom said, walking into the room.
"Well, the victim was found in the tub. Sofia has found four DNA evidence samples in the bathroom so far." Sara explained.
"Yeah, so the parents, the nanny and the victim, maybe?" Grissom suggested, rubbing his hand through his damp beard.
"Hey, you're wet," Sara remarked, looking at him for the first time.
"Right, so I'm observing your crime scene. Last thing you need is chlorine to contaminate your scene." Grissom replied.
"Oh, I have chlorine, but I think it's just from the victim coming in after a swim; from her wet suit." Sofia chimed in.
Grissom looked into the large bathroom from the bedroom, trying to get an image of the room at the time of the victim's death. He shook his head slightly, not able to see it.
"You feel it, too?" Sara asked, looking up at him.
"This isn't the crime scene." Grissom said, backing slowly out of the bedroom, trying to stay in his footprints on the carpet.
"She was found submerged in the tub." Sofia announced.
"What did David say?" Grissom asked.
"He was pretty freaked when he got up here. Speaking of which, where's Greg?" Sara asked.
"I sent him to the lab to help Mia," Grissom replied absently.
He slipped on his booties and gloved up before walking back into the bedroom. He pulled his flashlight from his pocket and dried it on his sweatshirt. Then his phone rang.
"It's Doc, can you talk?"
"Yes, I'm here with Sara and Sofia, that's it." Grissom replied, crouching to take the pressure off his back.
"The male victim had a lot of alcohol in his system. He drowned but only after having a couple of belts. I'll know better when the full tox screen comes back." Doc said in a quiet monotone.
"What about the female?" Grissom asked, tracing the beam of his flashlight across the bed.
"She was injected with something. I found a small puncture wound on her arm. She did not drown." Doc said softly.
"Sexual molestation?" Grissom asked, lowering his voice.
"Any other signs of physical abuse for either victim?"
"Nothing obvious, I'll keep you posted." Doc said.
"Right," Doc said, hanging up the phone.
"Sara, keep processing in the bathroom and then start in here, I'll be right back." Grissom called.
"Okay," Sara replied.
Grissom left the room and removed his booties and gloves. He put his flashlight in his pocket as he walked downstairs.
"Is Captain Brass still on site?" Grissom asked the uniform.
"Yes, he's in the study, through that door," he said, pointing.
Grissom headed to the double walnut doors and paused for a moment before walking in. He closed the door behind him and walked to stand next to Brass.
"Harvey and Lorraine Lewis, this is Dr. Gil Grissom of the crime lab." Brass said to the couple still dressed in their party clothes.
"I'm sorry for your loss," Grissom said, the pain in his voice evident.
"Did you find something?" a familiar deep voice asked from behind him.
Grissom turned and saw Chance Lewis making friends with a tall glass of clear liquor, standing by the wet bar.
"Lots of things; Mr. and Mrs. Lewis, do you have a nanny?" Grissom asked, directing his energy to the parents sitting on a small sofa.
"Yes, Louise. She had the night off." Mrs. Lewis replied, wiping her eyes, her husband held her closer.
"Who was watching the children?" Brass asked.
"We all were. They're pretty independent kids." Chance responded.
Grissom turned and shot him a look that should have turned him into a pillar of salt.
"Would you excuse us for a moment?" Brass asked, taking Grissom by the elbow and leading him out of the room.
They continued until Brass got Grissom by the pool. Grissom started to pace, his anger palpable, his logic fractured.
"Gil, tell me," Brass coached, leaning on the back of a pool chair.
"The male victim was drunk before he fell into the pool and drowned. The female victim had a possible overdose after being raped and before being staged in the bathtub. Being Las Vegas, none of this is new except that the victims were beneath the age of ten. I sent Greg from the scene because he can't deal with the male. I have to send Sara from the scene because she can't deal with the female. Shit, Jim, I'm truly not trying to sound petty but I don't know if I can work on this alone with Sofia." Grissom said, stopping to look at him.
"You don't have a choice, for now. It's a little after one, send Sofia down for DNA while you send Sara to the lab and I'll help you finish. Okay?" Jim asked, standing easily.
"Thanks, Sofia really bugs me." Grissom said, pressing his hand to his temple, trying to push back the impending headache.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Jim asked, looking at him intently.
"Tired, Jim, just tired, let me get Sara to the lab. Find me, soon," Grissom said, cracking a small smile.
Jim thumped him on the shoulder and headed back into the house. Grissom climbed the stairs and put on new booties and gloves. Sara and Sofia were just walking out of the bathroom when he walked into the bedroom.
"Sofia, would you go to the study and take DNA from the parents and uncle?" Grissom asked.
"Sure," Sofia said, taking her kit and walking out of the room.
"What's going on?" Sara asked, her anger showing.
"Look, Greg's sister drowned in a similar pool accident. It really threw him. I need you to take your evidence, process it, and check on him back at the lab. Brass is working on the parents and the uncle. He has a theory. Until your tests are done, it's a theory. Sofia and I will stay here and finish processing the second floor." Grissom said, telling her as fast as he could.
"Okay, but Griss?" she called, her anger gone.
"Yeah?" he said, turning from the doorway, about to pick up his kit.
"You're my bugman, not superman, okay?"
Grissom pulled his right glove off, picked up his kit and walked to her. Setting it down, he reached around Sara's neck, kissing her intensely on the lips, surprising himself with his emotion.
"I'll do my best to remember," he said huskily, looking at her brown eyes, before opening his kit, and regloving.
Sensing that he was about to enter his mojo world, Sara took her samples and kit and left the bedroom. Grissom walked to the door and shut it with his shoulder. He pulled his flashlight out and put the ultraviolet filter on. Slipping the red field glasses, on he started to search the room for evidence of bodily fluids.
Thunder boomed and brought Grissom back to the present. He saw his coffee cup empty and went to pour himself a tepid day-old cup. He didn't have the energy to make another pot right now. He looked at the fire and added another log to fight the rain that was somehow making its way into the chimney. Settling back in his chair, his mind wandered again.
Sofia knocked on the bedroom door and found Grissom taking samples from the sheets in the female victim's bed.
"Where do you need me?" Sofia asked timidly.
"Put on booties and help me finish processing this room. Did you take the DNA swabs?" Grissom asked, hearing her behind him.
"Yes, Brass is having a uniform run it to the lab. He said he would be up to help, soon." She replied.
It took another full hour before the female victim's room was complete. Brass had identified the male victim's room, the guest room where the uncle slept, and the master bedroom. They started to process the male victim's room next.
"Why didn't we call in swing shift? Aren't they supposed to help?" Sofia complained, on her knees examining the closet.
"They're slammed too. They spent most of the day in the lab with the arcade shooting." Brass answered, as he walked into the room.
The next five hours were spent in almost total silence. Each technician was working their corner of the room as specified and overseen by Grissom.
"Gee, Jim, you haven't lost your touch, if you ever want to come back," Grissom teased.
"No way, Gil. My pond is just big enough, thank you very much." Brass said, wincing as he stood.
"Are we done?" Grissom asked his team.
"I am definitely done," Sofia said, pulling off her gloves.
"One more print," Brass said, pulling the last tape.
"Great, let's start to collect everything." Grissom said, walking out into the hallway to see the almost one hundred brown evidence bags lining the walls.
Grissom removed his gloves and booties and pulled out his phone.
"Hi, we're finished here. We have too much evidence to transport in Brass's Taurus. Would you drive my Denali back and help us with the evidence?" Grissom asked.
"Sure, see you in fifteen minutes." Sara said.
"Thanks, bye," Grissom replied.
"You're welcome, bye," Sara said, closing her phone.
"Sara will be here in fifteen minutes. Let's get everything to the front hall." Grissom instructed.
Brass, Sofia and Grissom moved each bag and their kits delicately to the front hall and then waited for Sara. Moments later the door opened.
"Hi, whoa, okay, let me back up to the door." She said, ducking out to repark the Denali.
The door opened again and the Denali was less than ten feet away. Carefully they started to move the evidence again.
"Sofia, Grissom's car is full, why don't I give you a lift?" Jim asked.
"Thanks, Captain," Sofia said, happily leaving Grissom and Sara with the evidence.
"I need to get my clothes from the pool." Grissom said, closing the rear door.
"I took them when I left. They're spread out in the locker room." Sara said, looking at the fatigue evident in his body language.
"Great, thanks, let's go." He said, looking over the car at her. "You can fill me in on the way."
Sara smiled, knowing exactly what was going to happen. Grissom secured himself in the passenger seat of the warm car while Sara turned on CD1 and cello music filled the car.
"Not fair," Grissom mumbled, falling asleep almost immediately.
Sara smiled again, sipping her now-cold coffee that Greg had brewed before she left. She did have a lot to tell Grissom, but he needed the cat nap to process it correctly. She drove slowly and took the long way, arriving at the lab almost thirty minutes later.
"Griss, we're here." Sara said, getting out of the car.
Grissom opened his eyes and yawned. He was tired but focused as he left the vehicle. They brought the evidence in and when Sofia appeared, started to log in the evidence. Finally, Grissom thought he could break away. He walked down the hallway and heard his name.
"Grissom?" Greg called.
Grissom turned around and walked in to Lab 2 where Greg had the trap evidence. Greg turned around and handed Grissom his Star Trek mug filled with coffee. Grissom stepped back from the evidence table and sipped it greedily.
"Thanks, now talk to me, Greg," Grissom said, the fatigue showing in his voice.
"Doc told you the male vic had liquor in his bloodstream. It was all straight liquor. There is no evidence of a mixer of any type. Also, remember you had to remove the grate because his fingers were wedged in it?" Greg said, seriously.
He took a bag and emptied it on the table.
"Dollar coins?" Grissom asked, incredulous.
"Yeah, six to be exact. They were covered in leaves and other stuff. That's why we didn't see them initially." Greg said.
"He was diving for dollar coins?" Grissom asked.
"That's my guess and like 'Hi Bob', every time he brought up a coin he was given a drink." Greg said.
"Prints?" Grissom asked, not understanding the reference, but continuing with his thought.
"No, but Brass called to say he has the name of the party photographer." Greg said.
"Really good work, Greg. Give me ten minutes to recharge and then come find me. We'll go see Sara together," Grissom asked, leaving the lab.
"You'll be in your office?" Greg asked.
"No, on the roof," Grissom replied, heading for the stairwell.
Grissom walked slowly up to the roof, ignoring the sign on the door about the alarm. He had rewired it when he first started working on the night shift. The world was quiet on the roof and at night very cool. He walked out into the early morning air, and lay on his back, looking at the sky, his arms crossed under his head. He practiced his slow breathing and fell asleep.
Greg walked up onto the roof and found Grissom asleep.
"Grissom? Grissom, wake up." Greg said, crouching near his boss.
Grissom opened his eyes and stretched.
"Help an old man up, will you?" Grissom said, holding his arm up.
Greg smiled, and pulled him to his feet.
"You okay?" Grissom asked, not releasing Greg's hand.
"As long as I don't have to see the body, I think I'll be all right." Greg said, trying to convince himself.
"Greg, I told Sara about your sister. Now, also in confidence, I need you to know that Sara was molested as a child. This case is affecting both of you and you'll each need to draw on the strength of the other." Grissom said, softly.
"The female victim," Greg started, holding onto Grissom's forearms for dear life.
"Was not drowned. She was murdered and she was molested. It is not like your sister. Do you understand me?" Grissom said, raising his voice slightly.
Greg closed his eyes and then opened them again. Tears held onto his eyelashes but he was solid.
He nodded to Grissom and then wiped his eyes.
"Let's go help Sara," Greg said, with a small smile.
Grissom moved in his chair, aware that he was hungry and needed to go to the bathroom. He put his empty coffee cup on the table and headed for the toilet. Drying his hands on a towel, he walked back into the great room and then to the kitchen. He opened the fridge and saw nothing appealing. Opening the freezer, he found a breakfast burrito. He removed it, followed the instructions and put it in the microwave after removing the coffee carafe. While his burrito cooked, he poured the last of cold coffee into his mug. The beep sounded and he slipped the burrito onto a plate, picked up his coffee and headed back to sit by the fire. Munching, he eased back into the past.
Greg and Grissom walked out of the stairwell into the hallway and then to Lab 3 where Sara and Sofia had the female victim's evidence laid out. Greg hung back, waiting for Grissom to look at the evidence before getting closer.
"No photos of the female vic are to be shown to Greg," Grissom said flatly.
"Sure," Sara said, carefully closing the photo folder.
"Okay," Sofia agreed.
"Where are we? Talk us through it." Grissom commanded, wishing he had his coffee.
Brass walked in with Grissom's bug mug filled with hot coffee.
"We're about to talk about the female victim and since tonight I am an honorary member of CSI, I'm sitting in. Besides, I think this one may be hinkey." Jim Brass said, sitting on a stool after handing Grissom his coffee.
Grissom took his coffee and sat on a stool next to Jim, taking a sip.
"Well, I don't know what you mean about hinkey but we found four different DNA samples in the bathroom of the female victim; the victim, the mother, the nanny, and the uncle." Sofia stated.
"Did you get the tox panel back?" Grissom said, reaching for the photo folder.
He stepped away from the table and thumbed through the photos until he found the shot of the victim submerged in the tub. He stared at it intently. In his mind he went back to the crime scene, looking at the room in context.
"Grissom?" Greg asked.
"I was just saying that the insulin level in the vic was four times the normal level." Sara said, trying to stay focused.
Grissom looked at the photo once more and then put it back in the folder. He looked at the photos of the other rooms as they were spread out on the table. He sighed audibly and started to pace. The others just waited for him.
"The party started at eight. It was anchored at the pool and the rest of the first floor. "Sara started.
"And the victims were still awake, hanging out with the adults." Grissom followed, stopping to turn and look at her.
"The male is asked if he wants to play a game in the pool." Greg added, understanding this methodology.
"And the female victim tags along," Brass said, looking at the photos.
"But she gets bored and goes upstairs to go to bed." Sofia said.
"And someone visits her." Grissom remarked.
The silence in the room was palpable.
Grissom looked up at the fireplace. His edginess had returned and he got to his feet. He walked to the front door and looked out to see if the weather had improved.; it hadn't but it didn't matter, really. He needed to get out and move. Walking to the closet, he pulled out a Gore-Tex jacket and a LVPD baseball cap. Grissom walked out the front door toward the lake. The cold moist air seemed heavier as he found a trail and started to make his way forward. The leaves were slippery and there was plenty of mud on the path, but it wasn't impassible. In fact, he started to move faster, testing himself until he was running down the path.
Running had been Sara's passion and the way she tried to deal with stress. When they started dating, Sara would go for a run and Grissom would walk, still thirty pounds overweight. As he lost weight and became more aerobic from his trips to Slim's Gym, he started to run with her.
Grissom was running, jumping over the occasional small logs that crossed the path, ignoring his surroundings. Some time later, he came upon a clearing and pulled up, leaning over to catch his breath.
"What are you, part duck?" a voice called.
Grissom looked up through his rain-covered glasses to see a bearded older man standing on the porch of a large cabin. A German shepherd sat alertly next to him.
"More like a water strider, probably." Grissom remarked, still catching his breath.
"You Jim Brass's friend?" the man asked.
"Yes," he answered walking up and extending his hand slowly. "I'm Grissom,"
"Roger McAllister, Grissom. And this is Noble," he said, shaking Grissom's hand and then nodding at his dog.
Grissom turned his hand knuckle side up and let the dog sniff him.
"You eat lunch yet?" Roger asked.
"No, not yet," Grissom replied.
"Come on in, I'll make some soup." Roger said, leading the way into the cabin.
"Thanks," Grissom said as he took off his muddy shoes and then entered the cabin, closing the door behind him.
The cabin was warm with a fire in the fireplace, but what caught Grissom's eye were the paintings on the walls.
"Put your coat on the hook by the door. Want some coffee or something stronger?" Roger asked.
"Bourbon if you have it." Grissom said, hanging up his coat and removing his fogged glasses to dry them.
"Rocks with a splash?"
"Fine," Grissom said, walking away from him to take a closer look at the paintings.
They were a mix of oils and watercolours; mostly landscapes. They were very good. Grissom looked at the signature and realized that Roger had painted them all. Roger walked up to him and handed Grissom his drink.
"Your health," Roger said, toasting him.
"And yours," Grissom replied, sipping the liquid and holding it while his tongue numbed.
Grissom returned his attention to the paintings as Roger went back to the kitchen. The cabin was silent except for the fire and Noble's nails on the floor. He sat in a chair in a darkened corner of the great room and looked at one painting. It was an oil of a dark storm on the lake. Grissom sipped his bourbon and lost time.
Grissom turned back to look at the evidence table.
"Greg, Sara, I need the information about the master bathroom and the guest room bathroom." Grissom asked softly.
"Sure," Greg said, going to check with Hodges and Mia.
Sara tilted her head and looked at him, about to complain, but there was something in Grissom's mannerisms, on his face, that showed he was trying to protect her.
"Okay," she said, leaving the lab room.
"Shut the blinds," Grissom commanded, taking the crime scene photographs out of the folder and putting them on the table.
Sofia shut the blinds and Brass locked the door as Grissom spread out the photos. He moved them, like some strange variation of the card game 'concentration', and he started to hum. Brass looked at him for a moment and decided this was part of the mojo. Sofia sat back on a stool and waited to be told what to do.
"Jim, do you see it?" Grissom asked.
Jim looked at the photos and the way Grissom had arranged them. It was very linear and told the story. He started to nod.
"Yeah, Gil, I see it." Brass said amazed again at the way Grissom thought.
"Hey, let us in," Sara's voice called from the hall, after realizing that the door was locked.
Brass turned over the photos of the victim before unlocking the door. Sara and Greg walked in with two file folders. Sara looked first at Grissom and then at Brass.
"You've solved it, haven't you?" she accused.
"It depends on what the evidence says. I have a theory," Grissom said, his face serious.
"The master bathroom; standard toiletries and two prescriptions: insulin and Zoloft, both in the mother's name." Greg said, looking at Grissom.
"The uncle's bathroom; also had standard toiletries and Viagra." Sara said.
"Thank you both. Please, wait for me in my office," Grissom said, handing his keys over to Sara.
Sara and Greg left the lab, unsure of their feelings at being left out of the final step of the investigation.
"Okay, what's your theory?" Brass asked.
"Chance was having an affair with Lorraine Lewis, the mother, his sister in law. But he was also raping his niece. Doc indicated this was new, perhaps as recent as just in the last two weeks. Chance made a choice, mother or daughter. He had one last contact with the daughter, shot her full of the mother's insulin, and then faked the drowning." Grissom said in a soft monotone.
"Jesus," Sofia said, causing both Brass and Grissom to remember that she was still in the lab.
"I don't think we have enough to hold them until we get all of the evidence back from the bags." Brass offered.
"Yeah, I know. Sofia, don't talk about this case to anyone. I'll put a gag order for the rest of the team." Grissom said, collecting the photos.
"Me too, good work," Brass said, opening the blinds.
Grissom collected all of the crime scene information and walked to the door.
"Sofia, it's almost eight, go home and get some sleep." Grissom instructed.
"Thanks, boss," Sofia said, leaving the room.
"Damned if you do, damned if you don't," Brass commented.
"Don't I know it," Grissom replied, walking to his office.
He walked in to find Greg and Sara sitting in the chairs by his desk. Grissom walked around and put the Lewis files on the edge of his desk. With a tired hand he wiped his face before sitting down.
"The uncle and the mother were having an affair. In addition, he was having a sexual relationship with the daughter. I don't think the father had a clue. We don't have enough forensic evidence logged through the lab to arrest them. Brass is going to keep on it. You two did some very good work today under some very tough circumstances. I'm proud of you. Now, you're off the clock until tonight's shift." Grissom said, his left hand out of sight, clenching and unclenching into a fist.
"Thanks, Grissom. See you tonight. Get some sleep." Greg said, standing.
"Greg, you okay?" Grissom asked.
"Yeah, thanks," Greg said, turning to look at him before leaving his office.
Sara looked at Grissom who was staring at something on the edge of his desk.
"Ready to go home?" Sara asked.
"Not yet," Grissom admitted softly.
"Oh, well, uhm, I'm gonna go, maybe run and then I'll be at the townhouse." Sara said, standing.
"Okay, see you later," Grissom said, looking up at her briefly.
She walked around the desk and took his face in her hands, turning it towards her. Kissing him passionately, she said, her voice cracking.
"I love you. Please, take care of yourself. I need you."
She kissed him again and left the office, tears streaming down her face. Grissom turned his chair away from the door and covered his face with the crook of his right arm as he laid his head back in the chair.
"Soup's on," Roger called from the kitchen, breaking into Grissom's reverie.
He walked stiffly into the kitchen and sat opposite Roger.
"Smells terrific," Grissom said honestly.
"Meatball soup; my Martha used to make it." Roger said, taking a spoonful.
Grissom started eating and smiled briefly at Roger. It was a basic vegetable soup with wonderful meatballs. Very warm and filling on such a rotten weather day.
"I like your paintings," Grissom said, trying to start a conversation, looking at his soup.
"Thanks, do you paint?"
"I used to. Now I sketch in pencil and when I have time in pen and ink." Grissom replied.
"What are your subjects?" Roger asked, suddenly interested in this man.
"I'm an entomologist, so I sketch bugs," Grissom said softly.
"You know Henry Moore?" Roger asked.
"The English sculptor?"
"Yes, but I love his sketches. In other words, Grissom, you probably sketch other things than bugs," Roger said with a smile.
"My mother has a modern art gallery in California. I've always been around art, but I'm interested in my job; entomology and forensic science." Grissom remarked.
"So you do sketch other things? A girlfriend, perhaps?" Roger asked.
Grissom looked over at his lunch partner, setting his spoon in his empty bowl. He narrowed his eyes slightly; a flicker of recognition upon seeing something in Roger's face that was too familiar.
"This was to be a retreat. I was supposed to paint; something I haven't done in years." Grissom said, his voice low, feeling something was somehow off.
"Good for you, Jim's cabin is wonderfully secluded for that," Roger said, not inquiring further.
Roger stood and took the dishes to the sink before leading Grissom back to the fire with a fresh drink. They sat opposite each other, sated from their meal and drink, and Roger fell asleep.
Grissom was warm and had a slight buzz. Although a nagging sense of foreboding bothered him, he felt comfortable enough to fall asleep, yet his dreams invaded. It was at the Bonanza, but Jim ran in to save Grissom and was stopped in a hail of bullets. Grissom woke up, his heart racing, his face slick.
"Jim's okay, Grissom," Roger remarked softly.
Grissom looked at the floor and shook his head in an attempt to clear it. He got up and walked to the front door, slipping on his coat before walking onto the porch.
"You don't have to go," Roger said, following him.
"Uhm yeah, I do, thanks for the soup," Grissom said, sitting on the bench, putting his shoes on as fast as he could, feeling the impending anxiety attack.
Roger reached out to Grissom's shoulder. "Son, it will be all right,"
Grissom shot to his feet, furious, his right fist back, his eyes burning, and then relaxed, his palms open towards Roger as he backed down the porch steps, shaking his head. He turned and started to walk down the path back to Brass's cabin. When he thought he was out of sight, he picked up the pace, ending up in a run.
"It's Roger, your man was just here,"
"Grissom was at your cabin?" Brass asked, leaning back in his desk chair.
"Are you okay?" Roger asked, concerned.
"Yeah, I'm fine, Grissom was involved in a shooting a couple of days ago. It's been bothering him. What brought on that question?" Brass explained.
"He was out running on the path in the rain and I was on the porch. We had some of Martha's meatball soup and then sat by the fire. We both fell asleep then he had a nightmare; he called your name. I guess I understand him having a nightmare after something like that, but still," Roger said, stopping
"But what?" Brass asked, sitting up right.
"Jim, he looked as though he would clock me. I don't scare easy, but I have never seen such a look of pure hatred in my life." Roger said, feeling a slight shiver at the memory.
"What did you do that got him so riled up?"
"I put my hand on his shoulder and said it would be all right."
"Roger, what exact words did you use?"
"Uhm, I said, son, it will be all right," Roger said.
Brass took a breath and let it out.
"Okay, I understand, thanks for calling. I may be up this weekend. I have to check on the schedule." Brass said, mysteriously.
"I hope I didn't do anything wrong," Roger said sadly.
"No, you did great, Roger," Brass confirmed.
"See you soon," Roger said.
"You bet, thanks, bye," Brass said.
"Bye," Roger said hanging up his phone.
"It's Jim, can you take the next two days off?"
"I don't think Griss would approve of me dating you, Jim," Sara replied with a smile.
"Something's happened and I think he needs us. Can you get away without losing your job?" Jim asked.
"I'll make it happen." Sara said, seriously.
"I'll pick you up at your townhouse at four. Bring him a bag of stuff; it's cold and rainy up there and all he has are the clothes on his back and the stuff in my closet." Jim said.
"I'll be ready." Sara replied.
Grissom ran on the trail, angry and confused. The next thing he knew, he was falling. He put his hands out to break the fall and protect his face. The pain in his left hand as it raked over a root was fairly significant. He lay in the mud and tried to catch his breath. Slowly, he got to his feet and slid his injured mud-covered hand into his jacket pocket. He walked home from there, humming to keep focused. He arrived about an hour later, the cold now permeating him to the bone. Laying another fire, he paced in front of the fireplace until the fire caught and he started to warm. He pulled off his muddy Gore-Tex, hanging it up by the door. Only then did he look at his left hand. He had a gash on the meat of his hand, but he didn't think it required stitches. He started to shiver and realized what he needed was a hot shower and clean clothes. He walked into the bedroom and looked through the drawers. He found a pair of sweats and a sweatshirt and put them on the bed. He pulled off his filthy clothes and put them in a pile. He walked into the shower and reveled in the hot water. He took his time, finally stepping out at four in the afternoon. Grissom toweled off and put on Jim's sweats, commando style. Opening the medicine cabinet, he found butterfly bandages, gauze, Neosporin, and tape, and set to fix his hand. He walked back into the Great room, feeling the heat from the fire. He fixed himself a fresh Maker's and water and sat by the fire. Soon his thoughts wandered.
Grissom pulled himself together, checked his desk for anything pressing, picked up his lab keys, and went out to his car. He started the engine, changed the CD player to 3 and listened to his mix of Chris Botti. He headed off to the only place where he knew for sure he could try to gain control of his emotions. Fifteen minutes later, he pulled into the parking lot of an innocuous office building. He pulled CD3 from his player and carried it freely. Walking up the stairs, he entered Dr. Wu's office.
"Dr. Grissom, do you have an appointment?" Mrs. Wu asked with a frown.
"No, I'll wait, if that's all right." Grissom said, sitting near the line of bonsai trees.
"Of course, let me speak to my husband." Mrs. Wu said, leaving the office area.
Grissom closed his eyes and focused on his breathing but he couldn't truly relax. Instead, he sat in his chair and recited the Periodic Table, in Latin.
"Dr. Grissom," a welcome voice said.
Grissom opened his eyes and stared into the brown eyes of his acupuncturist.
"Dr. Wu," Grissom replied, standing and bowing as was expected.
Dr. Wu bowed back and then looked at his patient. In Chinese, he instructed his wife to ready a room.
"I apologize, I did not make an appointment. I did not mean to be disruptive," Grissom said, looking towards the floor.
"You need to be here, I will be ready shortly. Is this the music you need to listen to?" Dr. Wu asked, looking at the disc in Grissom's hands.
"Yes," Grissom replied, handing him the CD.
"I need five minutes to prepare for you. I want you to focus; listen to the fountain and focus." Dr. Wu instructed, leaving him alone.
Grissom listened to the water running over the rocks in the corner and his mind was free. Suddenly he was at the Lewis household, seeing Joshua Lewis swimming for dollars in the pool, until the alcohol in his bloodstream was too great, impairing his judgment, holding onto the coins; sinking to the bottom. Grissom woke up suddenly, his breath shallow and fast. He stood up and thrust his hands in his pockets and paced.
"Dr. Grissom?" Dr. Wu called softly five minutes later.
Grissom followed him to the blue room. The entire room was blue except for the warm heat lamp over the bed. Grissom stripped to his shorts; his cell phone and pager were turned off when he had walked in to the office, and put all of his belongings on a chair in the corner. He stretched out on the table and tried to steady his breathing as he felt Dr. Wu try to feel what he was feeling. Soon he felt the familiar sensation of needles in his body as Dr. Wu began his session. Halfway through the insertion of the needles Grissom heard his CD and locked on to it; setting his focus on the soaring jazz.
"243," Dr. Wu said softly before leaving Grissom alone in the room.
Dr. Wu entered after fifteen minutes and took a position by Grissom's shoulder. Five minutes later the nightmares started. Dr. Wu reached his face and massaged it; relaxing Grissom back to total sleep. This went on for almost ninety minutes.
The CD started to repeat and Dr. Wu called Grissom to awaken. It took a while, but Grissom woke up. They started to count the needles, as Dr. Wu removed them, a continuation of his calming process. This was the first time that acupuncture didn't set him straight. After he dressed and shook Dr. Wu's hand, Dr. Wu felt it as well.
"You are not totally centered,"
"No," Grissom replied.
"There is nothing more I can do,"
"I know that as well," Grissom replied with a tired smile.
"Take care, Gil," Dr. Wu said, handing him his CD.
"Thank you," Grissom replied, bowing and taking the CD.
He got back into his Denali, inserting the CD into the player and headed for the one other place that calmed him down; Palm Mortuary. He drove onto the grounds and waved at Benny, the groundskeeper, before parking his car. He looked at his watch; eleven a.m. and then started to walk the large cemetery. The air was cool, and a light rain fell as Grissom dug his hands into his windbreaker pockets and started his circuit. He walked for three hours amongst the headstones before feeling his anxiety ease and a calm overtake him. At the fourth hour, he found himself by Benny's grounds building. Grissom walked in to get out of the rain. Benny wasn't there. Grissom looked to his right and smiled, seeing the moving blankets laid out on the floor from the last time he had crashed there. He lay down, pulling the other moving blanket on top of him and curled up, falling asleep almost immediately.
The door to the grounds office opened and Benny walked in. He saw Grissom, curled up in the corner, sleeping quietly. No one would have predicted that lying on the floor of what was a garage with planting equipment and supplies was a safe haven for this scientist. Benny walked to his desk and sat down to write his maintenance logs. An hour later, and he was ready to go home. Grissom hadn't moved an inch but he couldn't stay in the cemetery after closing.
"Grissom? Grissom? Ya gotta go now. Cemetery's closing." Benny said.
Grissom opened his eyes and blinked at Benny a couple of times, trying to place where he was.
"Thanks Benny. Don't take my bed away, I'm sure I'll be back." Grissom said, slowly getting to his feet.
"Don't worry, you're always welcome here." Benny said.
Grissom walked out of the grounds office and headed to the parking area. He was still tired and his anxiety started to creep back as he started the car and drove out into traffic. He looked at the dashboard and noted that he had five hours until the start of the shift. Suddenly he remembered he had turned off his electronics. He reached into his pocket and turned on his pager and cell phone. His cell phone beeped almost immediately reminding him he had missed messages. Grissom pulled into a shopping complex and parked. He looked at the messages; two from Brass, two from Sara, and one from Catherine. He hit speed dial and sat back in his seat.
"Hey, where've you been?"
"What's up?" Grissom asked, shutting his eyes.
"The Lewises are missing," Brass stated flatly.
"What? Which Lewises?" Grissom asked, his eyes open and alert.
"All of them," Brass said softly. "Can you think of any specific place that we should look?"
Grissom sat in his car and thought as clearly as his tired brain could.
"No, damnit," Grissom swore, running his hand over his beard in frustration.
"Dju get any sleep?" Brass asked.
"Yeah, a little," Grissom admitted.
"Gil, you can't do this. Even you need sleep occasionally." Brass said, his voice full of concern.
"I'll sleep next week at your cabin," Grissom said, partially kidding.
"Have you spoken to Sara yet?" Brass asked.
"No, not yet, why?" Grissom asked.
"I think she called everyone in your phonebook trying to find you. She's really worried." Brass said.
"All right, I'll call her right now. Thanks, Jim. I'll see you tonight." Grissom said.
"Okay, take care, bye," Brass said.
"Bye," Grissom said, closing his phone.
Quickly he made another phone call.
"You called?" Grissom asked.
"Gil, where are you? Sara is about to set the hounds out for you." Catherine asked.
"Okay, I'll give her a call," Grissom said.
"No, Gil, go and see her," Catherine commanded.
"I can't right now, Cath. Thanks for the heads up. Talk to you later, bye," Grissom said.
"What?" Catherine asked.
Grissom closed his phone and took a deep breath before placing his next phone call.
"Hi," he said in a quiet voice.
"Grissom, where are you? Are you all right?" Sara asked, her voice higher with emotion.
Sara looked at her phone, seeing that they were still connected, but Grissom was silent.
"Griss, please talk to me? I came home from my run and you weren't here. I'm worried about you, sweetheart." Sara said, her voice catching as she began to cry.
Grissom closed his eyes and lay back in his seat. He felt the tears start and knew he couldn't stop them.
"Sara, honey, please don't cry," he managed to get out.
"Where are you? I'll come and pick you up." She asked sniffling.
"No," he said softly, the tears falling silently now.
"Please Grissom, I need you," Sara pleaded.
"Sara, I have to be alone. God knows I love you more than anyone else on earth and I wouldn't do anything to hurt you but," he said haltingly before a sob broke his voice.
"Grissom, okay, take it easy sweetheart. We'll get through this. Just listen to my voice, take nice shallow breaths." Sara said, now scared. "Grissom are you driving your car, right now?"
"No, I parked," Grissom said.
"Good, okay do you have a full tank of gas?" she asked.
"Just about," he said, starting to regain control of his emotions.
"Turn the engine on, crack the windows and put your cello CD on." She directed.
Grissom sat up and did as she asked. Soon the mournful sounds of Yo-Yo Ma's cello eased through the car. He reclined his seat, locked the doors and concentrated on the music. At some point, he hung up his phone and turned it off. He started to relax and then to dream.
He was at the Bonanza and Tycel Howard was staring at him with those pain-filled eyes. Sara called to him and it was the last thing he heard because the young man emptied his gun into him.
Grissom woke up in his car, his breath sounding loud and harsh in small confines. His hands were shaking as he tried to clear his head of the pain he felt.
He looked at the dashboard and noted it was five thirty. He wasn't going to sleep so he might as well go into work. He stopped by Starbuck's and bought a grande drip with two shots of peppermint. Setting it in his cup holder in the Denali, he changed his CD back to Chris Botti and drove to work.
Grissom walked in through the back door and headed immediately for his office before switching gears and heading for the morgue. He tapped lightly on Doc Robbins' office door and then walked in. He was stretched out on the sofa, his crutch lying on the floor. Doc was snoring softly and Grissom smiled. He yawned, barely able to keep his eyes open and sat down in the desk chair, lightly setting his feet on the desk blotter.
The phone rang and Doc reached over to answer it.
"Morgue, Robbins here,"
"It's Brass, is Grissom with you?"
"Gil?" Doc said, putting on his glasses, looking around his office, "Yeah, he is; must have come in after I sacked out. He's asleep. You need him?"
"It's eight, no, let him sleep. I'll see him when his shift starts." Brass said.
Doc hung up the phone and reached for his crutch. He stood up and walked to the coffee maker to pour some coffee before settling in opposite Grissom to read some reports. Fifteen minutes later, Grissom started dreaming. Doc watched over his glasses, not able to make out what Grissom was saying until he screamed, waking up and jumping to his feet.
"Gil, you're all right, you're in my office," Doc said, looking at him across the desk observing him.
Grissom looked at him and blinked. It had been so real. He dove to the bottom of the pool to retrieve Joshua Lewis's body, but when he flipped it over the face was Greg's.
"Easy, throw some water on your face and pour some coffee." Doc directed.
Grissom walked to the sink in the corner and was startled at his pale complexion and red rimmed eyes. He washed with cold water, noting the tremor now in both hands. He looked for his cup of Starbuck's coffee and brought that back to sit at Doc's desk.
"Brass is looking for you," Doc said, not raising his eyes from the report in his lap.
"Again?" Grissom said, sipping his cold coffee.
"He knows you're here but he isn't going to bother you until shift." Doc said.
Grissom looked at the clock on the wall. He sighed and took his glasses off to rub his eyes and apply pressure to a slow-building headache.
"It's okay, Doc. I'm going up to my office. Thanks for letting me sack out." Grissom said, putting his glasses back on.
"Take it easy, Gil. Only a couple of more days until your vacation." Doc said, looking up at him with a smile.
Grissom raised his eyebrows and smiled before walking out with his coffee. He got upstairs to the hallway and checked in with the front desk.
"Oh, Grissom, Capt. Brass called to remind you to turn on your phone when you arrived." Steven said.
Grissom looked at his phone and nodded, turning it back on. He walked to his office, unlocked it, and walked in. Flipping the switch on his desk lamp, he sat down and started to bury himself in his paperwork.
The phone on his desk rang, drawing Grissom out of his self-imposed paperwork hell.
"Ah, you're answering the phone, now?" Brass joked.
"I'm sitting at my desk, doing paperwork. What's up?" Grissom answered sitting back in his chair.
"Park services chopper found the Lewises. It's pretty intense."
"Where are you?" Grissom asked, rubbing his eyes
"Head west on US159 and I'll have a patrol car meet you. We're way out in the desert."
"Okay, we'll all be coming separately."
"I understand. I'll see you when you get here. Bye," Brass said.
"Right, bye," Grissom said, hanging up the phone.
He pulled out his cell phone and speed dialed Sara.
"Hi, Brass called. We have a triple in the desert. Where are you?" Grissom asked.
"I'm in the break room," Sara said.
"Oh, okay, I'll meet you there." Grissom said, feeling off-balance.
He turned off his computer, made sure he had all of his keys, and headed for the break room.
Grissom walked in and found Sara sitting on the sofa reading a magazine. Sighing he walked to her and held out his hands to pull her to her feet. She put her hands in his and he pulled her into an embrace.
"I'm sorry, I'm trying, I really am," Grissom said softly.
"It just hurts when you shut me out," she replied.
"I'm not trying to hurt you," Grissom continued.
"Sweetheart, you're doing the best you can," Sara said, pulling back to look at him. "You look awful,"
"I know," he admitted, "Look we have to get going. You'll follow me, and I'll call Greg on the way."
"Greg's not coming in tonight. He called me and he's taking a sick day. He's still pretty shaken about yesterday's crime scene." Sara said.
"Oh, well then, it's just you and me. I need to leave Sofia here to run the evidence from the house. Let's go," Grissom said, heading out the break room door to the employees' parking lot.
"Why do you want to take two cars?" Sara asked, walking at his side.
"Brass hinted that it might be pretty rough. I wanted us both to be independent." Grissom said, softly.
"Thanks, but I'll be all right," Sara said, getting into her car.
Grissom got into his Denali and headed out on the forty-five minute trip towards the crime scene. He had Eric Clapton playing, trying to get his head around back to the job at hand. By the time he got to the crime scene almost forty-five minutes later, he was on his game.
He got out of his car and walked, pulling his cap low, towards the large temporary flood lights. Sara followed him step for step.
"A duo, not a quartet tonight?" Brass quipped.
"Greg's sick, and Sofia's in the lab processing. " Sara commented.
"You look like hell, Gil,"
"So I've been told, a couple of times." Grissom replied, looking back at Sara with a small smile.
Brass turned around and headed towards the focus of the first group of temporary work lights. Grissom stopped suddenly and put his kit down. Sara stopped beside him. He put on his gloves and stared ahead. He walked forward, following something that Sara couldn't see. She came up next to him and he held his arm out to keep her from compromising the scene. Harvey Lewis lay in bloodied soil, his hands and face badly cut. Grissom crouched next to the body, panning the beam of his flashlight.
"Jim, can you get Doc out here?" Grissom asked, his eyes not leaving the body.
"I guess so, but David's good, what's your beef?" Brass asked, shaking his head.
"We have two dead children, their dead parents, and the dead uncle. I need to be sure. I need him here." Grissom explained.
"Okay," Brass said, walking away to call Doc Robbins.
"What are you thinking?" Sara said, crouching next to him.
"I'm thinking that we need to give them our 'A game' and I'm not sure I'm up to it." Grissom said, standing.
"So we'll take it one step at a time, like we always do. Why don't I start to process this victim?" Sara asked, now getting engaged with the body in front of her.
She turned to see why Grissom hadn't responded, only to see his retreating back. Sara stood to retrieve her kit and methodically started to familiarize herself with the scene while waiting for Doc Robbins to arrive.
Grissom headed over a small rise and found the female victim. He stood concentrating on the entire scene, tuning everyone out.
"We'll have that four-wheel drive vehicle here shortly, Captain," a young Parks officer said loudly into his cell phone.
Grissom cringed and tried to focus again. He started to hum and soon his mojo was working. He found the footprints of the two victims leading to the body and he found one set of footprints from the body leading away to what he assumed was the third crime scene. He walked to the body and crouched, wincing at the violence and the amount of blood. She was nude, her clothing nowhere in sight.
He reached into his coat and called Brass.
"I need screens around the second victim. I'm processing her. I don't want Sara near the body. Secondly, we need to look for the female victim's clothing. Thirdly, I want all personnel at least twenty yards away until we can cast the footprints." Grissom said, his tone short.
"Gotcha, and Doc will be here in half an hour."
"Thanks, Jim," Grissom said, shutting his phone and returning to the body in front of him.
"Sara," Brass called.
"Yeah, Jim," Sara replied, taking her markers and laying them out before she started to photograph the area.
"Don't go to the next body without me, okay?" he said mysteriously.
"Yeah, okay," she answered, only half paying attention to him.
Brass walked around to Grissom's kit, picked it up and walked carefully to the second crime scene. He walked up quietly and set it down. Grissom was humming some unknown tune as he continued to walk around the victim. He came back to his kit and opened it. He put his gloves on and picked up his camera and the markers, starting to lay them out. Brass stepped back away from the body and watched Grissom work. For thirty minutes, Grissom took photos of the body and the footprints. He set the camera down and removed the pouch of rapid set plaster. He squeezed the bag and the components mixed. Slicing the bag open, he was able to fill one footprint from each set. He heard a noise and looked behind him. Brass' men were carrying the four fold up screens to protect the crime scene. Grissom instructed them to set them down while he personally set them up. His foot print casts were done. He gingerly put them in two different brown evidence bags. He regloved, then came back to the body. Her legs were apart and Grissom took his flashlight and looked to see if there were any overt signs of sexual trauma. He found multiple bruises on her hips that appeared to be from the fingertips, not of a hand, pressing down. Looking closer, he found a hair that didn't match the victim. Reaching back to his kit blindly, he found a small envelope and his tweezers. He put the hair in the envelope and quickly labeled it before putting it into his kit. He looked at her hands, still unable to touch the body until Doc had pronounced. There was evidence under her nails and then he saw it. The scars of attempted suicide on her wrists, they were fresh, perhaps one month old. Grissom sat back on his heels and took a deep breath, closing his eyes. She was a diabetic and therefore prone to depression, but was that all? he thought.
"Gil, Doc's here with Sara and they found the car." Brass called to him softly.
Grissom opened his eyes and left his victim to listen to Doc's report. He carefully replaced the screens and removed his old gloves. Walking back up the hill to Sara's scene, he slowed down when he saw the trouble he had started. Doc couldn't get to his hands and knees and therefore Sara was his hands. Grissom walked up and stood next to him.
"So, now I'm playing requests?" Doc joked.
"I needed you, Al," Grissom replied softly.
"I know, and I'm here for as long as that's true. They have a nifty four wheel drive that can get me anywhere." Doc said, smiling.
"What do you know?" Grissom asked, trying to say focused on the case.
"Harvey Lewis, approximately forty eight. Death as a result of a gunshot wound to the chest."
"The wounds on the face?" Sara asked.
"Struggle obviously, but," Doc started.
"They're from the wife," Grissom said, going back to the crime scene in his mind.
"Griss?" Sara asked, standing.
"He was always supposed to be the victim. At least that's what she thought. Together the female and the other male killed this one." Grissom said in a monotone.
"Because with him out of the way, they were free to get on with their lives." Sara finished.
"Time of death, approximately eight tonight." Doc finished.
"Let's go look at the next one," Grissom said, starting to walk off to his scene.
Sara started to walk after him. Grissom turned around, his hands up.
"No, Sara, I need you to continue to process this body. The clothes are missing from my vic and Brass has just located the car. You're working this side, I'm working that side." Grissom said, his eyes deep blue, pointing ahead to the next crime scene.
Knowing that voice and look, Sara nodded to him and went back to work. Doc climbed into the all-terrain vehicle and went a less steep path to Grissom's crime scene. Doc raised his eyebrows when he saw the screens that Grissom had erected. Brass came to join him, helping him out of the vehicle. Brass opened a screen enough for Doc to get in. Grissom was on his hands and knees.
"Jesus," Doc whispered, looking at the body.
"Yeah, Lorraine Lewis, approximate age, forty-six. Cause of death, multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Signs of sexual trauma," Grissom said, pointing to the bruises with his flashlight.
"What else?" Doc asked.
"Signs of recent suicide attempt, and that's how far I got before you came onsite." Grissom said, looking up at him.
"I don't know if you'll be able to get a clear temp reading from the liver, considering the blood loss, but let's try." Doc said, handing Grissom the thermometer.
Grissom stuck it in the liver and read the temperature, eighty eight.
"That's pretty consistent," Doc commented, taking the thermometer back from Grissom.
"Where's the next victim?" Doc asked, walking toward his transport.
"Up the hill, facing due east," Brass said, walking out from the scene.
"How samurai of him to die facing the rising sun." Grissom commented grimly, resetting the screens.
Brass led Grissom to the last crime scene. Chance Lewis sat with his back against a rock. A bottle of high-end vodka was by his side, as was the pistol. Grissom crouched down and regloved. He looked over the body intently, using his flashlight to bring out details otherwise missed.
"Hey, you guys. Give me a hand." Doc called from off to their right.
Grissom stood and followed Brass.
"That's pretty slippery stuff, that shale." Doc said, looking at where he would have to walk in order to get to the body.
"Give me a minute," Grissom said, gently taking a crutch from Doc.
Ten minutes later, Grissom had cleared a large path of loose stones for Doc to traverse. Grissom took one hand and Brass took the other just to make sure he didn't slip and in moments, they started the exam.
Grissom took a breath and tried to get his game brain on. Both Doc and Brass knew he had been distracted by the production of getting to the crime scene. They stood quietly, waiting for Grissom to get his mojo working. He regloved and looked again at the victim.
"Chance Lewis, approximate age, fifty. Apparent cause of death, overdose, "Grissom said, feeling the victim's coat and finding a pill vial.
He smiled thinly when he read the medicine, Sansert, the same migraine medication he took. The name on the bottle; Harvey Lewis. He handed the bottle to Doc, who transcribed the information.
"So what are you thinking then, murder suicide?" Brass asked.
"I think that Chance Lewis realized after he killed Jessica that she was what he wanted, not her mother." Grissom said, quietly.
"Here take a liver temp," Doc said, handing him the thermometer.
"Ninety," Grissom replied, handing it back.
"What do you want to do now, Gil?" Doc asked, handing him back the bottle of Sansert.
"I'm going to go finish processing the female vic and then come up here." Grissom said, getting to his feet after putting the Sansert back where he found it.
"Would you like me to stick around, to supervise the body transport?" Doc asked.
"Yeah, would you please? Sara ought to be done soon." Grissom said, escorting Doc back to his wheels.
"Okay, call me when you're done with the female." Doc said.
Grissom simply waved as he started to walk back to site two, as the officers were calling it. He arrived at his scene and opened the screens, shutting them behind him. Regloving, he got on his knees started to take samples from under the victim's fingernails. He carefully sealed the envelope and labeled it, trying to be methodical. He rolled her gently on her side away from him and got his camera to take shots of her back. He took soil samples from under the body and near the body for comparison. Reaching into his kit, he retrieved a tool that resembled a spatula except the slotted area had been replaced by fine screen. Gently, he searched for the five bullets. One hour later he found all five. He checked his crime scene carefully and looked at his evidence, making sure he hadn't missed a step. Feeling confident, he stood for the first time in over an hour. He hadn't eaten all day and felt dizzy, leaning over until it passed. Slowly, he stood and moved his kit out of the screened area. He pulled out his phone and called Brass. He heard a phone ring behind him and was surprised to find Brass standing watching him.
"You rang?" Brass asked.
"I'm done here," Grissom said, walking up to him.
"You want one of the kids to take your plaster casts to your car?"
"No, I want to leave the evidence near the scenes and then I'll schlep it back to my car." Grissom said.
"Found the female vic's clothes over by your next vic." Brass commented.
"Okay," Grissom said, putting his kit down.
As he straightened he got dizzy again.
"Did you eat?" Brass asked reaching out to steady him.
"I don't know, I don't think so." Grissom replied leaning over.
"Okay, take it easy and stand up slowly. Eat this and drink this water," Brass said reaching into his sports coat pocket, handing him a brightly coloured energy bar.
Grissom stood quietly and ate the peanut butter Clif Bar. He drank the water slowly and felt better almost immediately. He stood with Brass for five more minutes before picking up his kit and heading for site three.
He set his kit down, gloved, and then started to search the victim's pockets. Grissom bagged and tagged the Sansert as well as a vial of insulin and two syringes. He lifted GSR from the victim's left hand as well as his shirt. He set out his markers and took photographs of the victim and the footsteps leading from site two. Pulling out another container of the quick plaster, he made a cast of that footprint. Next, he photographed the victim's shoes, concentrating on the tread. As he did, he noticed the blood spatter on the victim's trousers and took a sample as well. Finally, he bagged the gun and the vodka bottle. He left his samples near the body and called Brass.
"I'm done with site three, heading for the clothing." Grissom said, fighting his fatigue and slowly mounting anxiety.
"Sara is almost finished with the car. I'm standing with her." Brass said.
"Uhm, did Doc remove the first vic?" Grissom asked.
"Yeah, and he's supervising site two." Brass said.
"As soon as site two victim is clear, ask Sara to walk the evidence back to my car. I shouldn't be long." Grissom said, walking with his kit toward the next group of work lights.
"Okay, stay in touch," Brass said, turning to relay the information to Sara.
Grissom walked slowly, his flashlight in his hand, following the footprints to the clothing of the site two victim. It made no sense until he stood with the clothing and noticed a second set of footprints. Quickly he called Sara.
"Sara, I missed it. I missed a second set of footprints leading down the path from site three to site two. I need you to cast them. It's probative." Grissom said, hurriedly.
"Okay, I think Doc is just moving the body now. You told Brass that I couldn't go near the body so…" Sara said, confused.
"If the body's in the bag I don't care, I need you to do this for me, Sara, please." Grissom said, his emotions rising again.
"No problem Griss, I'm en route, just take it easy, I'm on it. Everything's under control," Sara said, sprinting towards scene two, carrying her heavy kit under her arm.
"Thanks," Grissom said, closing his phone.
Sarah opened her phone and called Doc.
"Tell everyone to freeze, there's evidence." Sara said and closed her phone.
"No one move!" Doc shouted and the crime scene froze, waiting for Sara to run down the wash to site two.
Sara stopped, her chest heaving, and then let her eyes follow the trail towards site three. She picked up her phone.
"Using a clock, where are these footprints I need to cast?" Sara asked, still trying to catch her breath.
"Eleven, maybe ten-thirty to the body." Grissom said, thinking backward.
Sara looked with her flashlight and finally found them. "Got them, okay Griss, all set at site two."
"Thanks, honey," Grissom said, closing the phone.
"Okay Doc, no one can walk over here, you guys can continue," she said, dropping to her knees to set the footprints.
Grissom continued to walk to the clothing. He set his kit down and regloved. Opening his kit, he set his markers out and started taking photographs. As he did so, he began to realize what had happened, the humiliation, the realization. Chance had forced her to strip and walk barefoot on the sharp rocks down the hill to her death. Grissom pulled out his portable black light flashlight and the luminal to check for body fluid on the clothes and found one spot. He sampled it and bagged the clothing. Still crouching, he ran the timeline again and then started to search with his black light flashlight. The other vic had jerked off while the female removed her clothes. He sampled the soil and then switched to his white flashlight, following the footprints, his in shoes, hers bloodied bare feet. Grissom photographed the footprints and took soil samples of the blood. He was done and piled all of his evidence near site two along with his kit.
Grissom took a moment and a deep breath. Intellectually, he realized he was done with work, the case was basically solved and so the emotions that he had tried to keep in check that week starting with the ten year old boy found near the water hazard of the fourth green to the rape and murder out here in the desert came forward. He started to walk east over the next rise for some privacy as he felt his anger become palpable. Half an hour later he found a large stone and knelt next to it, unsure if he was going to throw up or not. Instead, he picked up another rock and with all of his anger and energy he started to strike the large rock. Chips were flying, some hitting him but he ignored the pain instead, thriving on it. He growled a low noise which was painful on his vocal chords but continued. He lost track of time, beating the rock, trying to exorcise his demons. Finally he sat back, tears streaming down his face, and let out a primal scream, cut short due to the damage to his vocal chords. He felt Sara's presence and stood, waiting for her to join him, totally spent.
Grissom woke up suddenly, his throat hurt, and he felt the beginnings of a headache. Leaning forward, he put his head in his hands and tried to relax, but it didn't work. He stood slowly, walking to the kitchen and turned on the porch light. There was a small amount of coffee in the pot so he put it in a mug and heated it up in the microwave. Walking back to the living room, he retrieved his bourbon glass. The microwave beeped and he removed the mug, throwing in a large sample of bourbon before walking back to the kitchen to try to hold off what was feeling like a serious migraine.
Sara had been quietly hanging on for dear life as soon as she buckled up in the car. Brass knew the shortcuts to get out of the city, but he drove like Mario Andretti on speed with the siren and lights on as soon as he hit the highway. When they turned off onto a country road, he turned off the siren. She still didn't relax until they drove up to a cabin and she recognized Grissom's Denali.
Brass turned off the lights and engine and waited for Sara before going into the cabin. He opened the door and the cabin was dark except for the light from the fireplace. He saw Grissom, head in his hands, classic migraine posture. Brass stood at the foot of the stairs to the sleeping loft, out of the way.
Sara put the bag on the floor and walked to the kitchen and filled a glass with water. She reached into her purse and took out the two migraine meds.
"Griss, which meds?" she asked softly, from three feet away.
"Sansert," he whispered," Hurry, the lights are starting,"
She took a pill from the container and, crouching in front of him, she put the pill in his mouth and followed with the water. Brass walked quickly to his side and massaged Grissom's throat until he felt him automatically swallow since he seemed unable to do so himself. Grissom sat back in the chair, his mouth slack. Brass double-checked that he did swallow the pill and then Sara tried to get him to drink more water, but Grissom was too far gone into his migraine world. Sara and Jim muscled him into the bedroom. She pulled off Grissom's sweatshirt, drew the covers totally off the bed, and helped him lay down.
"He won't get cold?" Brass asked.
"He'll be up in an hour to pull off the sweatpants and then he'll collapse for another eight hours. Or maybe not, the Sansert is a crapshoot depending on how much food he's eaten, etc." Sara said, leading the way back into the great room.
She brought her duffle to the sofa and pulled out Grissom's clothes laying them out on the dresser in the bedroom.
"You hungry?" Brass asked from the kitchen.
"I'm starved. Some vegetarian pasta dish?" Sara asked hopefully.
"I can manage that," Jim said, finding the ingredients.
Sara opened the refrigerator and took out two peppers, mushrooms and an onion and started to mince them. Jim handed her a jar of alfredo sauce. She carefully looked at the label to make sure it was totally vegetarian and then handed it back for Jim to heat up.
"Drink?" Jim asked, pouring himself a scotch.
"A glass of wine would be nice." Sara said, still chopping.
"Gil's been into my bourbon supply, big time," Jim noted with a grin as he pulled out a cabernet.
He opened it and poured Sara a glass.
"Welcome to Chez Brass. I'm sorry that you're not up here just vacationing." Jim said, clinking glasses.
"Thanks, I knew this was coming ever since the golf course." Sara said, leaning against the wall sipping her wine.
They stood in the kitchen in silence, listening to the crackle of the fire and the boiling water. Brass put the pasta in and then started heating the alfredo sauce, directing Sara on the location of the silverware. Just as they were about to sit down to dinner there was a noise from the bedroom.
"Jim!" Grissom called out in a hoarse voice.
Jim and Sara walked quickly to the bedroom but Grissom was still asleep.
"Touch his face, let him know you're there," Sara instructed, standing back from the bed.
Jim crouched by the bed and touched Grissom's face.
"I'm here, buddy," Brass said, over and over.
Grissom opened his eyes and stood slowly. Sara reached over and gently pulled Brass out of his way. Grissom went into the bathroom and used it. He washed his hands and came out. Standing in the doorway, he rocked slightly. Sara had a pair of his shorts in her hand. She reached for his hand and put them in it. Grissom loosened the sweats and dropped them to the floor, replacing them with the cotton boxers. He got into bed and turned on his left side. Sara pulled the sheets to his neck and rubbed circles on his back until he was asleep again. She stood and took Brass by the hand, leading him back to the kitchen.
"I haven't seen his migraines this intense." Brass said, taking a hit from his scotch before dishing up the pasta.
"Since work has become more intense, so have his migraines. When he takes the Sansert he can't see in focus. He's nauseous, dizzy, you name it." Sara explained, putting the vegetables in the hot sauce and stirring.
"Wow, I had no idea. You've had to become an expert on this, haven't you?" Jim said as Sara spooned the sauce on the pasta.
Sara shrugged, concentrating.
"When we first started dating, he had just switched his stronger medication to Sansert. Days like today are hard because I don't know what he's ingested. The only thing I can do is be close by." She said, softly.
He brought the plates to the table in the kitchen and they sat down.
"Oh, shit," Brass said, walking to his desk.
"What?" Sara asked, alarmed.
"I need to tell Roger I'm sleeping at his cabin tonight or Noble will have me for breakfast!" Brass said, finding a handi-talkie.
"Noble Beast, Noble Beast this is the Wild Boar, come back."
Sara raised her eyebrows and smiled.
"He made up the names," Brass explained.
"Wild Boar, this is Noble Beast, how is the Runner?"
"Asleep, by all accounts. I'll be over in an hour,"
"Gotcha, use the east door."
"Over and out," Brass ended.
"Over and out," Roger replied.
Brass came back to the table and sat down. He took a sip of his scotch and then started to eat dinner.
"Okay Noble Beast refers to?" Sara asked.
"His German shepherd," Brass replied.
"And Wild Boar," Sara asked.
"That's a little embarrassing. When I'm up here, I don't shave so, I'm a cop, and well you get it." Brass said, blushing a bit.
"Don't tell Grissom, that's a name that will stick with you." Sara said, grinning.
"Good point," Brass said, smiling in return.
They finished their dinner and Brass put two more logs on the fire. Sara assured him she was fine and he left to spend the night with Roger. Sara walked into the bedroom, Grissom wasn't in bed. He came out of the bathroom, wiping his mouth, his face grey. He stopped and looked at her. Reaching his hand out, he touched her shoulder. She pulled him into an embrace, feeling him shake from emotion, pain and medicine. Sara guided him to bed and then changed into her pajamas. Her sleep schedule was off as she, too, had some unresolved issues with the Lewis case. She crawled into bed and backed up to his touch. Now asleep, he snuggled, setting his right hand on her belly and folding his left arm under his head. He sighed deeply as his breathing settled. She listened to him, and fell asleep quickly.
Sara turned over and felt for Grissom, the sheets were cold and she was alone. Getting out of bed, she headed for the Great Room and wasn't surprised to find him, lying on the rug in front of the fire. Even at home, during a migraine, he was prone to sleepwalk. She took the wool blanket from the back of the sofa and spread it on top of him, ruffling his hair. He groaned and shifted his position, still asleep. Sara put two more logs on the fire, and headed back to bed, leaving the door open to the bedroom.
Sara woke again and felt unsettled. She got out of bed to find Grissom. He was still asleep in front of the fire, but his sleep was far from quiet. He muttered, then spoke clearly, tossing and turning. Sara walked to the kitchen and made coffee. She was up now and knew the caffeine would help Grissom's migraine when he woke up.
The coffee smelled wonderful and Sara poured herself a large mug then sat on the floor, her back against the coffee table, and reached her hand to Grissom to ground him. He calmed and then woke up. He blinked several times trying to clear his vision and then sighed.
"I'm here," Sara said, reaching for his hand.
"I hoped so, thanks," Grissom said, sitting up slowly, leaning against the leather chair.
"Would you like some coffee?" Sara asked softly, knowing that he was sensitive to sound and light.
"Please," he answered in an equally quiet voice.
She released his hand and walked to the kitchen. Pouring him a mug she walked back to the great room. Judging by his movements, he still wasn't seeing well. Sara turned the mug around and helped him direct it to his mouth. He shook slightly but smiled none the less.
"Thank you," he said softly.
"You're welcome. Are you cold yet? Why don't you sit with me?" she said, helping him to his feet before directing him to the sofa.
"Thanks," Grissom sighed, sinking into the cushions.
"Are you dizzy?"
"Yeah and nauseated, although I really can't remember the last time I ate."
"Judging by the garbage you ate a breakfast burrito and some Vigo rice. Does this ring a bell?" Sara said.
"A bit, still, I would be getting yelled at if I was home about my diet, wouldn't I?" Grissom said, with a weary smile, putting his feet on the coffee table and closing his eyes.
Sara reached to the floor and found the blanket. She put it on Grissom from his shoulders to his feet and listened to his breathing relax as he warmed.
"Honey?" Grissom asked, his voice soft.
Grissom couldn't say it; he started to breathe quickly as he remembered the tough crime scenes from the last week.
"Griss?" she asked, reaching for his hand.
"God, Sara, I am so sorry I wasn't there for you. I have no excuses." Grissom said, tears streaming down his face, opening his eyes to look at her.
"Sweetheart? Griss? Brass filled me in, you were just trying to protect me and in doing so you took the full shot. It wasn't a cakewalk for you, either." Sara said, pulling him into a protective hug.
"I'm sorry, I can't…." Grissom said, finally letting go.
Sara held him, feeling her tears meld with his. Finally he relaxed from exhaustion and they both slept.
Sara rolled over, trying to evade some wet kisses.
"Noble, leave her alone," a voice said.
Sara sat up and looked around. Brass was cooking what she assumed and hoped was breakfast and a grey haired, bearded man sat on a stool with a large German shepherd at his feet.
"Where's Grissom?" Sara asked, standing in her nightgown, rubbing her eyes.
"I'm hoping he went for a run. I haven't looked, but I bet he left you a note. Take a shower, breakfast in fifteen." Brass said over his shoulder.
Sara walked into the bedroom and then the bathroom and found a note, in lipstick on the mirror; decidedly not Grissom but it was his handwriting nonetheless.
You're asleep and I can't bear to wake you. My watch says 7:30 and
I'm off for a run. Thanks for bringing my stuff. I love you so much it hurts.
She put on a sweater, jeans, and her Merrells, before walking back into the great room.
"Hi, I'm Sara," she said, shoving her hand towards the older man.
"I'm Roger McAllister, and this is Noble." The man said, pointing to his dog.
"Jim?" Sara asked, not wavering her look.
"Yeah?" Brass said, not turning from the stove.
"Did Griss see you when he left?" she continued.
"No, why?" Brass said, turning slightly.
"Roger looks a lot like the photos I've seen of Grissom's dad," Sara said, looking at Roger.
"I suspected as much; Gil almost decked him yesterday." Brass said quietly.
"Jim, this may be too much for him, the kids, then his father," Sara said, still staring at the man.
Noble's ears perked and he growled at the door. Sara walked out onto the porch and saw Grissom walking slowly up the path. She headed down to meet him.
"Hi," she greeted him softly.
Grissom looked up at her and he took two quick steps to her, embracing her tightly. He kissed her hair and then slipped his hands to her face, kissing her deeply.
"How are you feeling?" Sara asked, her hands around his waist.
"Physically: tired, mentally…emotionally: I guess I would say, shaky." Grissom replied honestly.
"Uhm, okay, I need you to focus for a minute. Do you remember going for a run yesterday?" Sara asked.
Grissom looked at her, his face tilting slightly, his left eyebrow arched in question.
"Did you meet Brass's neighbour, Roger? He has a German shepherd." Sara prompted.
"I didn't leave the cabin," Grissom said softly, looking at her closely.
She shot him a disbelieving look that changed to one of concern before she turned away from him to gather her thoughts.
"Sara, what's this all about?" Grissom asked, getting agitated.
"How did you hurt your hand?" Sara asked, turning back to face him, looking at his hand.
Grissom rubbed the bandage but didn't answer.
"You know the photograph that I carry of you and your father when you were five?" Sara asked, turning to look at him.
"I didn't know you carry it with you, but I do know the photograph." Grissom said, shifting his weight.
"Roger looks like your father," Sara said, softly.
Grissom stared at her, trying to follow what she was saying.
"He's in the cabin with Brass, making breakfast. I don't think you should go inside." Sara said.
Grissom walked away from her, digging his fists into his running pants, his limp becoming more apparent.
"Find me when he's gone," Grissom said over his shoulder, walking down the path to the lake.
Sara looked after him, almost in tears, wanting to go after him and tell him everything would be all right but she couldn't. Turning, she walked back up the stairs and reentered the cabin.
Roger and Brass were sitting at the kitchen table eating breakfast.
"Where's Gil?" Jim asked, his fork in mid-air.
"He's down at the lake." She said, sliding into a chair next to Jim.
He got up and prepared a plate of scrambled eggs with peppers and onions, then he filled a fresh mug of coffee and brought both to the table.
"Bacon?" Roger asked.
"No thanks, I'm a vegetarian," Sara said, trying not to sound short.
The three ate in silence; Jim stealing glances at Sara occasionally, feeling that she was wrestling with something.
"Jim," she started, "have you ever shot someone?"
"Yeah, once, why?" Jim asked, his voice low, his face darkening.
"I think you need to talk to Grissom; after breakfast." Sara said, sipping her coffee.
"She's right, he's running whatever happened over and over in his mind, changing the outcome. Maybe he'll open up to you." Roger remarked over his coffee cup.
Sara looked at him and smiled for the first time.
"All right, I'll talk to him. But, I'm not a counselor…" Jim said, standing to get more coffee.
"No, but you've known him for what, almost fifteen years? You drink together; socialize together. You probably know him better than anyone else." Sara said, looking at him.
"Except you," Jim said with a smile.
"Our relationship is different. What I meant to say was that you are probably his best male friend. It may be true that I know him better but there are things that you share in common simply by being a man that I could never understand. So, take him a coat, a thermos of coffee, and some breakfast, and get him to talk to you. He wants to, I know it. Once you talk to him about the Bonanza shooting, then we can talk about the Lewises and move forward." Sara said, finishing her breakfast.
Brass walked down the path, carrying a pseudo breakfast wrap of eggs and vegetables that Sara had made for Grissom, a down coat, and a thermos of coffee. Five minutes later, he saw Grissom sitting on the dock, leaning against a pylon, asleep.
"Hey man, you're not exactly dressed to be out here in this weather." Jim joked as he walked onto the dock.
Grissom stirred and opened his eyes. He stood slowly and put on the coat that Jim brought, zipping it to his chin. They walked to the bench at the base of the dock and sat down. Jim handed him his breakfast wrap while he poured a cup of coffee. Grissom ate hungrily and then sipped coffee.
"We need to talk," Jim started.
"I know," Grissom replied so softly, Jim had to lean in to hear him.
"Can you tell me what's going on with the shooting? I'm figuring you're having flashback-style nightmares, putting all of us in harm's way? And every time you can't save us." Jim said, looking at him.
Grissom turned to him and put down the food and coffee from his shaking hands.
"Every time I try to sleep, I see Tycel Howard either dying or shooting one of you; every time. The only times I didn't have that dream I was too soused or I saw Greg Sanders as Joshua Lewis." Grissom said, standing.
"You know it was self-defense," Jim said, remembering what his counselor said to him.
"Maybe, maybe I could have disarmed him rather than shoot him," Grissom said, pacing in front of Brass.
"That's crazy, Gil, you're not trained for hand to hand combat." Jim said.
"No, but I am trained to defend myself with a 9mm Glock, which I did." Grissom said coldly.
He looked at Jim for a moment and then walked away, further up the path. Jim lit a cigarette and then followed, needing the nicotine to calm him. He found Grissom standing fifty yards up the path. Walking up to him, Jim handed him his cigarette. Grissom took it and inhaled slowly. He hadn't smoked in over ten years and even then it was as an effort for stress-relief. His lungs remembered and he felt a type of a high.
"You need to talk to a professional," Jim said, honestly.
Grissom looked at him, not saying a word for almost five minutes.
"They start out when I'm facing him and then he shoots, not once, but the entire clip, and one of you dies." Grissom said, his voice hoarse.
"Have you had the one where you die?" Jim whispered, starting to remember his own incident.
"Yeah," Grissom said, looking over at him.
"Then you've almost worked through it. For me, I needed that teenager to blow me away about five times, and then I stopped reliving it." Jim said, lighting up another cigarette.
"Sort of like Hail Marys?" Grissom asked with a small smile.
"Yeah, but if you tell Father Timothy that, I will commit a sin and deny the whole thing!" Brass said, chuckling.
They stood looking out at the lake, smoking cigarettes for over half an hour before Grissom started to walk back to the cabin. He stopped within sight of the cabin and looked at Jim closely.
"Tell me the truth, did I go to Roger's cabin yesterday?" Grissom asked.
"Yeah, you did. Roger invited you in for soup. You had a nightmare and threatened to deck him. Then you left his cabin and ran down the trail; probably how you hurt your hand." Jim said, gesturing with his cigarette.
"I don't remember any of it." Grissom said, visibly upset.
"Gil, you've had a shitty week, the last thing you needed was a father look-a-like walking in while you're trying to regroup." Jim said, trying to diffuse the situation.
"Yeah, maybe, but I don't even remember leaving here, meeting this man, nothing. I need to see for myself." Grissom said, turning to walk up the stairs into the cabin.
He walked in and Sara was talking to an older man with a beard and a German shepherd. His back was to Grissom and Sara stood when she heard the door open. Jim walked in behind Grissom and put a hand on his shoulder, then shut the door behind them. Roger stood and turned around. Grissom's face went white and he started to back up towards the door and Brass.
"Roger, go into the bedroom, now." Sara instructed.
Roger and Noble walked quickly into the bedroom and shut the door. Grissom's left leg gave out and he sank to the floor, his head in his hands. His heart was beating rapidly; he was terrified.
"All right, buddy, he's gone. Okay, he's gone." Jim said holding him around his shoulders.
Grissom reached for Brass's shoulders and held on for dear life. Sara came over and sat next to Grissom, running her hands through his hair, talking to him in low tones.
The three of them sat on the floor of the kitchen until Grissom stopped shaking.
"Griss, we're going to go take a nap, okay?" Sara said, helping him to his feet.
They walked up the stairs to the sleeping loft, pulled off Grissom's down jacket and boots and lay him down on the feather bed. Sara held him close and he was asleep in minutes. Brass stood on the stairs waiting for a signal from Sara that Roger and Noble could come out of the bedroom. She nodded and he walked back down the stairs. Brass opened the bedroom door and was not surprised to see Roger sitting in a chair in the corner, also upset.
"Hey Rog, let's get you home." Jim said, collecting him.
His friend, Roger McAllister, ex-trial attorney stood slowly. Noble stuck close to his side as they walked to the door. Brass reached into his pocket for the photo Sara had shown him.
"This is Grissom's father," Brass said, showing him a forty year old Brownie image.
Roger took his glasses off and looked at the photo.
"Damn doppelganger," he said, handing the photo back to Brass, his sadness turning into anger at this other man who disrupted his life.
Roger walked out of the cabin and Jim turned to look around him. Sara and Griss were sleeping in the loft. Jim decided to clean the kitchen; he needed to do something. He looked at his clock, eleven, plenty of time to think about lunch. Both he and Sara had to go back to work tomorrow night. Plenty of time, he thought.
Grissom woke up; he stretched slowly, trying not to awaken Sara. He stood up and walked downstairs. Jim was sleeping in the leather chair by the fireplace. Grissom poured himself a bourbon and water and sat opposite Jim. Half an hour later, Jim woke up from a dream and found Grissom staring at him.
"Yeah, what, you thought you were the only one?" he asked, wiping his face before walking to the kitchen for a fresh scotch and soda.
"No, I…I just …" Grissom floundered for any words describing how he felt.
"Relax, what am I going to do; rat you out? Please…" Brass said, sitting in his chair.
"I don't know how to get past this." Grissom said, tugging at the bandage on his hand.
"Well, let's review: your first case of the week was a body dump of a child, then you went to the Bonanza where you had to take down a suspect. Next you went to a double murder of children and finally a triple murder with abuse. Oh, and you meet a guy with more than a passing resemblance to your father. Gee, I can't think of why you're a mess," Jim said sarcastically.
Grissom stood up and started to pace. Jim stood up in front of him.
"I'm sorry, that was tough. Gil, you have to trust yourself, your friends, and your lover. We are all trying to help you, but you're not helping."
Grissom heard a noise behind him and turned, seeing Sara on the last stair of the sleeping loft staircase. She walked up to him, putting her hands on his face.
"Jim's right, you've had a lot on your plate. Plus you're helping the rest of us. For today, no thoughts about work; I brought your CD player so you can listen to your cellos. In the duffel are some other things; art supplies that you purchased for your trip. Jim and I are going out. We'll be back at six or so. Have a nice afternoon." Sara said, reaching for a stunned Brass.
Grissom looked at them as they walked to the front door to get their coats.
"Please don't leave," he pleaded softly.
"Your CDs are in your car. We'll be back soon." Sara said, fighting back tears as she followed Brass out the door.
Grissom stood at the fireplace, unsure of what to do. He stood for almost five minutes, hoping that they would walk back into the cabin. When they didn't, he picked up his bourbon and downed it. Heading into the bedroom, he found the duffle and opened it. His notebook was there, as was a brand new notebook that he didn't purchase. He knew he wasn't calm enough to paint, so he took out a bag of pencils, a Staedtler Mars eraser, and a pencil sharpener. He gathered up his supplies and went into the Great room to pick up his empty glass. Filling it to the brim, he went out on the porch and set himself up in the Adirondack chair. The broad arms made good table surfaces. He opened the first page of the new notebook and started to think about what he wanted to sketch. Listening to the insects, birds, and wind around him, he lost himself in the crime scenes of last week and started to draw.
Sara had dropped Brass off at Roger's home, refusing a warm drink, and headed for the cabin. As she approached, she noticed Grissom on the porch. He had fallen asleep and his sketchbook lay open on his lap. Gently, she removed it and sat next to him in a chair made of what looked like bent twigs. The seat cushion made it comfortable, but only slightly. She looked at his sketches, just as she did the first time she snooped around his townhouse. The last image was of Sara as she left the cabin. She was reminded again of Grissom's almost perfect memory and his proficiency in art. The previous sketch was of Chance Lewis, as Grissom had seen him. Sara continued to flip through the images of last week's crime scenes, but was caught short when she came upon the nude of Lorraine Lewis. It was a sketch of her entire body in full detail. Sara started to shake slightly, the notebook falling from her hands onto the wood deck. She pulled her knees to her chest and closed her eyes.
Grissom woke up when the notebook hit the deck and looked over to see Sara begin to cry. Confused, he looked at the floor and saw the notebook had landed image up. Shit, after being so careful at the crime scene, he thought. He stood and then crouched in front of her, moving the notebook out of her line of sight.
"Sara, honey?" he asked, reaching up to gently brush the hair from her face.
She raised her head to look at him, the tears streaming down her face. He moved to her, shifting to his knees. She lowered her knees but kept them tightly closed, her hands in fists at her side. Very slowly he reached for her shoulders and pulled her stiff body to him. He held her delicately, rubbing slow circles on her back, just trying to comfort her. Sara continued to cry quietly and then shifted her body language, reaching for him. She grabbed handfuls of his shirt and started to really cry. He held her tightly, just focusing on her, trying to give her comfort.
Sara cried on Grissom's shoulder until it appeared she had no more tears. He shifted his hands, one under her knees, and one on her back. Setting himself back in a crouch, he stood, picking her up. She rested her head on his shoulder and anchored her left hand on his shirt collar as he carried her into the cabin. Grissom set her on the bed in the master bedroom and pulled the comforter over her. She rolled over, almost asleep, and emotionally exhausted. He walked back onto the porch and gathered his supplies before walking back into the cabin. He set everything on the kitchen table and replenished his bourbon. He stood, and turned the sketchbook to the first page. He took a sip of bourbon and turned the page. It was a sketch of the boy they found on the golf course. The next four pages were of Tycel Howard; the last of him lying dead, his eyes open. Grissom took a large mouthful of bourbon and turned the page. Joshua Lewis in the pool; on the pool deck. Jessica Lewis in the tub. Harvey Lewis alive on his sofa, dead in the desert. Lorraine Lewis, dressed in the study, nude and almost gutted by bullets in the desert. Chance Lewis, the sweatshirt over his arm at the pool, drunk in the study, dead in the desert. Sara, leaving the cabin. God, I need her. But she didn't need me right now. She had her catharsis, now she needs sleep. he thought, closing the notebook.
Grissom looked at his watch, noting it was almost seven. His stomach rumbled softly as he sipped his drink. He went to the fireplace, cleared the ashes into the fire pail and laid a new fire. He struck a match and the newspaper lit quickly. Soon, the crackling and comforting smell of the fire filled the room. He took his art supplies and quietly walked into the bedroom, putting them in the duffel bag, out of sight. He turned back and stopped to listen to Sara sleep. She was relaxed, sleeping deeply, burrowed under the comforter. He smiled and walked back to the kitchen. He opened the freezer and tried to think about dinner. He pulled out a package of Boca burgers, raising an eyebrow as to why this was in the cabin at all. Brass was certainly not a vegetarian. Grissom looked in the fridge and opened the crisper to find some peppers, pea pods and scallions. Ersatz stir-fry it is he thought, seeing what else was available. He sipped his bourbon and then walked out to his car to pull out his Chris Botti CD. Brass had a small radio with a CD player in it on the low wall, which divided the kitchen from the Great room. He set the volume low and then hit play.
Losing himself in the music, he chopped up the vegetables while the Boca burgers thawed in the microwave. He had found some wheat noodles and started the water to cook them. Looking at his watch, he figured Sara would be up soon, and he started to cook, sipping bourbon as he did.
"Mmmm, what smells so terrific?" Sara asked, walking out of the bedroom.
"Stir-fry, how are you feeling?" Grissom answered, turning away from the stove, slightly.
"Much better, thanks." She replied, walking behind him and encircling his waist with her arms.
Sara stood on her toes and Grissom bent his knees for her to kiss him after her hug.
"How about you? How are you feeling?" Sara asked.
"Not as tired, but not centered, either." Grissom said, honestly, continuing to make dinner.
Sara watched him for a moment.
"What can I do?" Sara said, stepping back to the table.
"You can set the table and open some wine." Grissom said, concentrating on the meal.
"Oh, by the way, Brass did mention you decimated his bourbon supply," Sara said with a grin, opening the silverware drawer.
"First of all, he doesn't even drink bourbon. Secondly, there is at least one more bottle of Maker's Mark in his liquor cabinet." Grissom said, reaching for a sip from his bourbon.
"Just telling you…" Sara said softly, pulling a cabernet from the wine rack.
Sara opened the wine and put two glasses out while it breathed. She looked around to see what she missed and found a six-inch pillar candle in a wrought iron stand. Smelling it to make sure it wasn't scented, she put it on the table. Sara went to the fireplace and took a match. She lit it and then lit the candle on the table.
"So, Brass entertains up here," Sara said, offhandedly.
"Yes, vegetarian it appears. Are you sure you've told me everything?" Grissom deadpanned.
"Yes, all, except that when I'm not working sixty hours a week, or spending time with you, that I am having an affair with Jim. Aside from that, I'm an open book." Sara said, laughing now.
"Plates or bowls?" Grissom asked.
"Bowls," Sara replied, reaching for them, purposely bumping into him. "Sorry,"
"Not as sorry as you would be if my hands weren't full," Grissom teased back.
"Promises, promises," Sara taunted.
Grissom strained the noodles and then spooned the stir-fry on top. He turned off the stove and carried the two dishes to the table. Sara poured herself a glass of wine.
"Are you switching?" She asked, bottle poised to pour.
"Uhm, no thank you." Grissom said, pouring some more bourbon in his glass.
"Buzzed?" she asked as she sat down.
"Yeah, I'm maintaining," Grissom replied, turning the lights off in the kitchen.
Grissom sat down opposite her, putting his glass on the table, and looked up.
"What?" he asked, head tilting, left eyebrow up; classic Grissom.
"I'm glad you're back. I love you." She said, reaching her hand across the table.
Taking her hand, he squeezed it and said, "Thanks for finding me. I love you too."
They ate their dinner in near silence, except for the fire and the CD, sneaking looks at each other. Grissom hadn't thought about dessert. He sat back in his chair and floated, sipping his bourbon, listening to the music. Sara cleared the table and started her search. It wasn't long before Grissom heard a familiar word.
"Ice cream," Sara said, turning to show him the container.
He put his hand up to refuse dessert, happy to watch her, instead. She looked through the fridge and the cabinets.
"This is really well-stocked. I never think of Jim being so domestic." Sara said.
"Roger stocked it for him," Grissom said softly.
Sara closed her eyes, silently kicking herself for ruining the mood. She turned around and realized that Grissom had walked to the Great room and was sitting in front of the fire. She scooped ice cream into a bowl, put the container back in the fridge, and grabbed a spoon before walking into the Great room .Before walking in to join him, Grissom was staring at the fire, his right hand around his bourbon glass, his left hand tightly grabbing the arm of the chair. She sat opposite him and decided teasing him was the answer to his dark mood. Sara sat back in her chair, legs crossed at the ankle, and took a large spoonful of ice cream. Turning the spoon upside down, she licked the ice cream off very slowly. Sara continued for three spoonfuls before Grissom looked over and started to laugh.
"Oh, please!" he groaned, leaning back in the chair, grinning.
"Gotcha," Sara replied, getting up.
She walked to him and he set his glass on the side table as she carefully sat in his lap. She put a small amount of ice cream on the spoon and fed it to him. He started to lick the spoon as she had and closed his eyes. Now it was her turn to laugh. They sat together, curled up on the chair in front of the fire until she realized that he was asleep. Oh well, so much for the romantic part of tonight's festivities she thought. Carefully, she got up and walked her dish to the kitchen. She put the dirty dishes in the sink, blew out the candle, and walked back into the Great room.
"Griss, sweetheart, time for bed," Sara said, caressing his chin.
He woke up enough to be led to the bedroom. Standing just inside the door, Grissom took off his clothes to his shorts and climbed into bed. Sara put on her nightgown and got into bed as well. He was lying on his right side, something he almost never did. Sara slowly shifted until she was spooning him, reaching her left arm to rest her hand on his chest. He reached for her hand with his left hand, kissed it and held it tightly against his heart. Sara had her right arm folded under her head. She kissed his shoulder as she felt a shudder go through him.
"I love you," she whispered in his ear.
He held her hand tighter and his breathing became more ragged. Suddenly, he rolled towards her, putting his head on her shoulder, his right arm across her mid section, holding her tight. She slid her right hand under him to hold him tight and her left hand grabbed his arm. She held him tightly, feeling her nightgown get wet as his tears began. She kissed his forehead and he pulled himself closer. Soon, his breathing evened out and he fell asleep. Sara held him close as she herself fell asleep.
Grissom woke up, but didn't know why. He reached for Sara, but she wasn't there. Frowning, he got out of bed, pulled on his flannel shirt, and walked into the Great room. Sara had stoked the fire and was sitting, wrapped in the wool blanket, in one of the leather chairs. She turned to look at him when he walked into the room.
"You okay?" he asked, leaning over to kiss her forehead.
"Yeah, just couldn't sleep." Sara said, looking into the fire.
Grissom looked at her and realized that she was holding something back.
"Sorry, that might have been the ginger," Grissom said with a smile, sitting in the chair opposite her.
His bourbon was still in the glass and he took a bold sip, feeling it burn all the way down. Sara smiled at him but her face was still troubled. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees.
"Honey, can I do anything?" Grissom asked softly.
Sara looked at his face, his beard growing in around the area he carefully trimmed, his hair long, and his eyes clear. She looked at her lap and fidgeted with the blanket, not answering him. She looked up at him, tears in her eyes, and extended her arms. He was at her side in a flash, holding her tightly as she started to cry. He picked her up and carried her to the sofa. Grissom sat down heavily with Sara in his lap and she held him tighter.
"Honey, why are you so sad?" Grissom asked.
Sara couldn't answer at first. Finally, her tears stopped and she pulled back to look at him.
"I was thinking about the little girl," Sara said. "It wasn't my uncle, it was my best friend's father."
Grissom couldn't hear what she said, it was so soft, but read her lips instead. He knew she had been abused, he didn't know it had happened twice.
"I am so sorry," Grissom started.
"Hold me, Griss, please," Sara asked.
"I am holding you," Grissom said softly, slightly confused.
"Hold me tighter," Sara asked.
Grissom tightened his hold, trying to figure out what she was really asking. He held her, finally feeling her body relax before he fell asleep.
Sara woke up lying on the sofa alone under the wool blanket. She stood up, wrapped it around herself, and walked to the bedroom looking for Grissom. The bedroom and bathroom were empty. She walked halfway up the sleeping loft but he wasn't there, either.
She walked outside and found Grissom pacing. Judging by the tracks in the dirt, he had been at this a while. Silently, she walked back inside. Putting the blanket back on the sofa, she made coffee, and while it was brewing, changed into a pair of jeans, a sweater, and her Merrells.
When the coffee was done, she poured them both mugs and walked out of the cabin. Grissom turned at the noise of the door and stopped. He looked rough, as though he was working something out. She handed him his coffee and then went back to the porch and sat in the Adirondack chair. He took a sip of coffee and ran his hand through his beard, saying something softly that Sara couldn't hear. He sipped his coffee, and paced for an hour.
"Let's go," Grissom said, putting his mug on the step and reaching his hand for her.
"Where?" Sara asked, putting her mug down.
"To see Roger," Grissom said, taking her hand.
They walked together, hand in hand as much as possible. She could sense the tension as they got closer and closer. Finally they reached a clearing.
"This is it," Grissom said, hyperventilating slightly.
"I'm not sure this is a good idea," Sara said, concerned.
"Why? I don't have my gun," Grissom commented darkly as he walked up to the cabin.
Before he got to the door, Noble barked twice. Grissom stood, hands in fists at his side as the door opened.
"Hey, Gil, morning," Brass greeted him, before registering his dark mood.
"Hi, Jim, is Roger up?" Grissom asked in a quiet voice.
"Yeah, you want to come in?" Jim asked.
"Not yet. I…I can't," Grissom said, struggling.
"Okay, okay, let me get him." Jim said, walking back into the cabin.
Roger came to the door and put on a coat.
"Would you take a walk with me? They can come if you want." Grissom asked.
Roger looked at Jim and then at Sara and nodded. He grabbed a baseball cap and turned.
"Noble, stay and guard the house," he instructed.
Roger walked out of the house, followed by Brass. Grissom started to walk down the path with Roger in tow. Sara and Jim walked twenty feet behind.
"What's up?" Jim asked.
"I don't know. He's been up for hours. I told him I didn't think this was a good idea. He asked me why, saying he didn't have a gun." Sara said, reaching for Jim's hand.
"Uh oh," Jim commented.
Grissom walked for ten minutes with Roger at his side without saying a word.
"I'm sorry about my behaviour yesterday," Grissom said.
"It's okay," Roger replied.
"No, it's not," Grissom said, stopping to look at him.
Grissom walked to within one foot of Roger. Jim silently walked up to be within striking range if Grissom lost control; Sara was at his side.
"You look a helluva lot like my father. My father beat my mother and me. I know you are not my father, but this is very hard for me." Grissom said, each word wrought with pain.
"Thank you for telling me," Roger said.
"I owed you that. I also apologize that I didn't remember meeting you. I blocked you out. You were my father. That being said, I have to go now, I can't control my rage." Grissom said, stepping back from Roger, his anger palpable.
Roger was about to reply but Grissom backed away from him before starting to run down the trail away from Jim's cabin. Roger looked at Jim and then at Sara. He walked back to the cabin alone. Sara looked at his back and then at the empty path that Grissom had run down. Jim walked in front of her, obstructing her stare.
"How are you, kiddo?" Jim asked, pulling her into his arms for a hug.
"Better, thanks, these cases are hard on both of us." Sara said, hugging him back.
"I know. Now, are you still on schedule to work tonight? If so, I'll pick you up at three so you can be home around nine. Would that be okay?" Jim asked, pulling back to look at her.
"Yeah, I'm working tonight so that would be fine. How long is that trail?" she asked pointing to the one Grissom chose.
"Five miles or so. It leads back to the cabin." Jim said.
"Well then, I guess I better get back. See you this afternoon." Sara said, giving him a quick kiss on the cheek.
Grissom ran down the trail, away from Roger and his memories. He ran fast, as if his life depended on it. Thirty minutes into his run, he slipped on wet leaves and went down hard over a fallen log. He didn't lose consciousness, but he was a little woozy. He stood slowly and took a breath, feeling that familiar agony of a injured rib. He put his right hand on his rib and started to walk on towards the cabin.
Sara reached the cabin and took a hot shower. She figured she had about an hour until Grissom showed up. She got out of the shower and put on Jim's bathrobe. She added more logs to the fire and sat on the sofa, losing track of time.
Grissom walked slowly up the stairs of the cabin and walked in. Sara was sitting by the fire, reading a book, dressed in a bathrobe.. She got up quickly and walked to him, noticing, aside from the mud covering him head to foot, that he was favoring his left side.
"Slipped on some leaves. I bruised a rib, I think." Grissom said, casually.
"Grissom, you're covered with mud. I can't even see how bad it is. Take a shower, I'll make lunch and then we'll see what's going on, okay?" Sara suggested gently.
Grissom smiled and walked into the bedroom. Sara walked in with him and helped him take off his clothes, as he couldn't bend over. He kissed her on her cheek, the mud staying on her nose, and walked in to take a shower.
Sara went into the kitchen, touching the smear of mud and tried to figure out what to make for lunch. She was neither a gourmet cook nor really a passable cook, like Grissom, but she could make a mean scrambled egg. Opening the fridge, she took out eggs, cheese, and milk and set out to make a large amount of scrambled eggs. She listened to the shower start and looked at her watch. Grissom was a twenty minute shower man if he was tired and grimy, like today. Fifteen minutes into his shower, she started to make the scrambled eggs, smiling to herself as the shower stopped exactly at twenty minutes. Grissom walked out in a flannel bathrobe and bare feet. He was still favouring his left side, but he was clean and his eyes were bright.
"How do you feel?" Sara asked.
"I'm almost there." Grissom replied reaching for a cup of tepid coffee.
"Good, so are the eggs. Do you want to set the table or eat in front of the fireplace?" Sara asked.
"Here in the kitchen is fine." Grissom said, setting the table.
Grissom pulled two plates from the cupboard and Sara filled them quickly. Grissom raised a plate to his nose and smiled. He leaned over and kissed her forehead then sat down, missing the confused look on Sara's face. They hadn't made love since the boy was found on the golf course. Grissom had been distant, and Sara felt at the time it was the stress of the cases, but now she wasn't sure.
They ate breakfast, silently absorbed in their own thoughts. Sara took their dishes to the sink and turned around to see Grissom retreat to the Great room, sitting slowly in the leather chair. Sara walked to stand in front of the fire, trying to figure out how to confront him. Instead, he surprised her. Standing, Grissom walked up to her and turned her to face him. Carefully he brushed her hair back from her face. With his left arm holding his chest, he used his right hand to guide her into a passionate kiss. She opened her eyes and saw the passion waiting there. Grissom continued to kiss her while his right hand loosened the sash of her bathrobe. Trying to help him, she reached her right hand to the back of his head, while her left hand reached for his sash as well. They were both naked under their bathrobes. Grissom reached his right hand for her breast as they continued to kiss passionately. She ran the back of her nails over his chest, being careful of his rib. His endorphins kicked in and the pain in his rib subsided enough that he started to use both hands. He slipped the bathrobe from her shoulders and smiled his sexy Grissom smile. Sara responded by gently pushing his bathrobe off his shoulders as well. He pulled her into a kiss and reveled in the feel of her body against his. She moaned into his mouth as his hands shifted, one to her breast and one to her hip, pulling her against him. She continued to run one hand through his hair, knowing that it really excited him, and the other hand rubbed circles on his back. He stepped back to spread their bathrobes on the floor, only to wince at the pain. She reached for his hand and spread their bathrobes on the floor in front of the fire. Sara lay down on the floor and reached for him. Grissom lay down next to her, his breath catching from the pain in his rib. Sara rolled him on his back and kissed him deeply. Her right hand went on a field mission while her left explored his curls. His eyes were shut to her ministrations. He rolled onto his right side, but then he rolled back to his back as the pressure was too great.
He reached for her and heard her take a quick breath as he touched her intimately. Opening his eyes, he saw her above him and her breast was within striking distance. He reached for her right breast, teasing the nipple until it was hard and then rubbed his teeth against it. Sara's breath started to quicken as he aroused her more and more. She continued as well, as his erection became full. He practiced his relaxation techniques, trying to hang on so she would come first. She started to kiss him, hard, feeling him beneath her. His hand slowed in her and she nipped his tongue, directing him to continue.
"Oh Griss," She said, pulling her mouth from his as she came.
He took his hand and slowly inserted himself into her very wet core. He reached for her breast, squeezing it softly. They weren't used to this position and in short order Grissom took a breath and held it as he turned her so he was on top. The pain in his chest was immense and their lovemaking took a backseat as he tried to regain his composure, pulling out from her.. Sara kissed him softly and then hard on the mouth. He rested his right forearm on the floor, trying to take the pressure off the rib as they started again. She rubbed his nipple and reached for him, stroking him back to readiness quickly. He reached for her breast and then leaned down to take the nipple in his mouth. He moved his hand to her, readying her again. Grissom kissed her slowly and passionately, and then entered her easily. She reached for his waist, urging him on as she edged towards another orgasm. She came and continued her attentions towards him. He held on for as long as he could and then came himself. He gently collapsed onto her chest, mindful of his ribs. They lay that way until he got cold. Rolling off of her, he wrapped them in their bathrobes and they lay together, holding each other. Sara looked at her watch.
"Am I keeping you?" Grissom asked, licking her ear.
"Uhm, no, uhm, Jim is picking me up at three, uhm, I'm working tonight." Sara said, distracted.
"Ah, well then, let's take this to the shower," he said, getting to his knees.
Sara stood up and helped him to his feet. She picked up the bathrobes and put them in the dirty laundry pile in the corner of the room. They walked into the shower and turned on the water. The shower stall was about fifty percent smaller than Grissom's at the townhouse. Sara started soaping Grissom's back and as the shower progressed, it became much more intimate. This time Grissom came first and then brought Sara to orgasm. Turning the water off, they toweled dry and looked at each other with tired goofy grins.
"I want to drive back with you," Grissom said, pulling her into a passionate kiss.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Sara asked, looking at him suspiciously.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Let's get dressed and pack up. Jim will be here in a half hour."
Brass drove up and was surprised to see Grissom on the porch with Sara and two duffle bags. He got out of his car and walked up to the porch.
"Hey, what's going on?" Brass asked, digging his hands into his jeans pockets.
"I'm driving back with you." Grissom said, easily.
Brass looked at Sara and then at Grissom.
"I don't think you should. I think you need some more time." Brass commented softly.
"Jim, I'm fine," Grissom said, holding his ground.
Jim looked at Sara and realized that she didn't know how to get Grissom to stay.
"Okay, that's settled. Grissom, would you do me the favour of shutting down the genset, turning the water off, etc.?" Brass asked.
"Sure," Grissom said, walking into the cabin.
Brass walked to Grissom's Denali. Finding it unlocked, he popped the hood and removed the coil wire, placing it in his jacket pocket. Sara watched, her eyebrows arched in confusion. Brass loaded her luggage into his car.
"Get in," Brass said, motioning to the car.
"No, he wants to drive with us." Sara said, firmly.
"Sweetheart, he is nowhere near coming home and you know that. Get in the car." Brass said firmly, getting into his Taurus.
Sara turned to look at the house and got into his car, the tears starting down her face. Brass started his car and drove away.
Grissom heard a car leaving and ran from the back of the house, confused and upset. He ran to his car and inserted the key but it wouldn't start. Popping the hood, he saw the coil wire was gone. Grissom shut the hood and drove his fist into it for emphasis. His anger welled up against Brass and Sara for going without him. He started to shake and then pace, his anger palpable. He walked in front of the cabin for an hour before he felt he could enter the cabin and turn back on the genset, setting things up for himself. He re-laid the fire and then settled to a Maker's with very little water. Grissom sat in the leather chair and tried to calm down, but all he could think of was that they had left him. He needed to do something.
Suddenly he remembered that Brass had left him something in the desk in case he was bored. I'm certainly not bored, but I need to be distracted he thought. Grissom walked to the desk and slid open the center drawer. There was an envelope with his name on it near a bright yellow handie-talkie. He opened the envelope and found a key marked 'shed'. Curious, he checked that the fire screen was secure and went out to the shed.
He approached the small building, thinking to himself that it was much bigger than the sheds he remembered as a child. Unlocking the door, Grissom walked in, feeling for a light switch. He turned the lights on and was surprised. There were two large locked cabinets on one wall and hanging from a strong looking beam, was a brand new heavy bag. Along the other wall, under the window which looked out on the lake, was a worktable with a vise, and small pieces of fishing line. In the corner opposite the door, was a red speed bag. On the wall hung a pair of Balzac Multi-gloves. Grissom unbuttoned his shirt, folding it on the work table and slipped on the gloves. He started his normal workout slowly on the speed bag, seeing how much stress he could put on his rib and found that he was able to work through the pain. He found his rhythm easily and soon he was lost in his world of strikes and timing.
After almost forty minutes on the speed bag he felt he was ready to work on the heavy bag. He walked over and pushed it a little to test to its weight. As he threw his first punch, he was reminded of his anger towards Jim for leaving him alone and he started to throw hard punches at the bag. The sweat was pouring down his face, chest and back, saturating the waistband of his trousers.
He felt the fatigue return in his shoulders and legs and gave one great swing before catching the bag and stopping for the day. He hung up his gloves and picked up his shirt, wiping his face before putting it back on. He turned out the lights, locked the door and walked back to the cabin. He trudged up the stairs and picked up his duffle bag, entering the cabin.
The fire was reduced to just embers and he was cold even from the short walk. Grissom locked the door behind him and put the shed key on the nail with the main cabin keys. He walked to the fireplace and quickly stoked it, adding two more logs and some newspaper. Soon the fire was going nicely and he padded into the bathroom to take a hot shower. Fifteen minutes later, he was warm and clean but still edgy. He pulled a clean pair of sweats and a sweatshirt from his duffle and put them on. He headed into the great room and picked up his glass of bourbon. Taking a quick sip, he made his way into the kitchen to forage for dinner. It took him just a few minutes to find what he craved; spaghetti with a tomato basil sauce. He certainly didn't have any energy left except to heat water and put the store-bought sauce in the microwave. He filled the pan with water and set it on the stove, turning the burner on high. Taking the jar of sauce, he decanted over half into a glass bowl, covering it with a matching lid. He sipped his bourbon and did the unthinkable, watched water boil, before putting the pasta in. Grissom set the timer for four minutes and put the sauce inside the microwave, pressing 'start'. Eight minutes later he settled down at the kitchen table with his spaghetti and a glass of wine. He reached over and pressed play on the CD player; hearing Chris Botti, feeling suddenly lonely without Sara as well as tired from his workout. By the time he finished his dinner, Grissom could barely keep his eyes open. He set his dishes in the sink, turned off the CD player and the lights and headed to the bedroom. He slipped off his sweats and pulled on a pair of shorts before easing under the sheets and falling asleep.
Grissom turned over and then woke up, disoriented. He was someplace dark and cold. He reached around him and discovered he was on the floor of the bedroom in the corner. It was then he remembered parts of his dream. He stood up, pulled on his sweatshirt and took out his sketchbook and pencil, carrying them into the great room. He turned on a light, sitting on the leather chair by the fireplace and opened the book, starting to draw the images in his mind.
Grissom awoke from another nightmare, but he didn't remember any details. His anxiousness and edginess had returned so he walked back into the bedroom and put on his running clothes. He walked out onto the porch and could see his breath. Stretching for five minutes, he headed down the trail in a slow jog to warm up before hitting his stride. He passed Roger's cabin, the only sound; his measured breathing and his shoes on the wet cold ground. Grissom's rib was not as painful as it had been so he continued along the path, varying his speed just to see if he could.
Grissom walked onto the porch, the steam rising off of him, and entered the cabin. He stopped and shut the door behind him. There were two photographs on the kitchen table that weren't there when he went out for his run. The first was a press photo of Roger receiving an award, dated two years ago. The second was a booking photo of a man; the tag said Lompoc. It also said G.N. Grissom followed by a ten digit number. Grissom sat, his knees giving way beneath him as he held up the two photographs. He looked at both images as the tears started to flow down his face, before seeing a hand-written note on his notebook.
Grissom, I called in a favour and found your father. Now,
you can see for yourself that we are not the same man.
Jim gave me your coil wire for when you're ready to leave.
Sara was very upset with Jim for leaving you.
Grissom wiped the tears with the meat of his hands and walked unsteadily to the counter to make coffee. He tried to clear his mind of all of the questions he had and all of the memories, but he couldn't. He set the timer on the coffee maker, grabbed the shed keys, and headed out to try to find his rhythm.
Opening the door, Grissom could barely contain himself. He pulled off his fleece and micro fiber running shirt, putting on the still damp gloves. He went to the speed bag and very slowly started his mantra to try to find that place that boxing took him to; the place where nothing mattered; just the moment he was in. He lost all sense of his surroundings for thirty minutes before switching to the heavy bag. Again, in no time, he was solely focused on the task at hand and didn't hear or see the door open. Roger walked in and stood in the doorway. He had left Noble at home as he was a nuisance in the quiet mornings. Holding a fishing pole and apparently full creel, Roger stood and watched Grissom box, wincing when he saw the scars on Grissom's back. He cleared his throat and Grissom stopped in mid-stroke, getting hit by the bag for his efforts. Grissom retreated to the corner opposite the speed bag and just watched the pole. Roger grunted and walked over to the brown cabinet, removed the lock, and put his pole in. Locking the cabinet, he walked back to the work table and picked up the creel. Reaching in, he removed a lovely trout and left it on the table before leaving the shed, shutting the door behind him. Grissom's heart was beating hard, so he closed his eyes and tried to relax. He walked slowly to the worktable and sat down, his breathing now ragged in addition to the chest pains. He pulled his gloves off and put his face in his hands, trying to relax. Grissom looked to the clock on the wall, each number was a bird, and realized that he had been in the shed for almost two hours. At ten o'clock, the cardinal sang its tune and Grissom stood up wearily to go make breakfast. He pulled on his shirt and fleece, picked up the trout and left the shed, locking the door behind him.
Walking into the cabin he saw another note from Roger.
Please come to supper at my place 6pm. Confirm through handie-talkie.
My call sign is Noble Beast and you are The Runner.
Grissom sighed and poured himself a cup of coffee. Pulling out a cutting board, he set the trout down preparing to filet it, but his hands were shaking too much. Instead, he sipped his coffee and looked for spices that might energize his trout. He pulled a skillet from the rack on the wall and then tried again to filet his breakfast. This time he was successful. He sipped his coffee again and then dipped the trout in his spicy bread crumb mix. Pouring a hint of olive oil into his pan, he heated it and then dropped in the filets. He adjusted the heat down and covered the pan before jogging to his car to grab his CD bag. Jogging back up, he pulled out Chris Botti and put in Cellos in the Mist, turning the volume up and hitting 'go' on the CD player. Grissom went to the stove and removed the lid, and turned up the heat. He focused on the music and his meal, ignoring the other things that were bothering him. Shortly, his trout was done and he transferred it to a plate. Turning off the stove, he sat at the kitchen table. He took the photographs and stuffed them into his sketchbook before starting his breakfast. He was hungry, tired and upset. All he wanted to do was talk to Sara, but that was impossible. He sipped his coffee and finished his breakfast.
Grissom felt cold, his clothing wet and his body trying to digest his breakfast. He went to the fireplace and stoked the fire before heading into the bathroom to take a hot shower. He stripped off his clothes and stood for several minutes, feeling the hot water on his shoulders and back. Out of the blue, he started to cry again, fighting hard to stay upright. He took a breath and tried to control himself, finishing his shower. Grissom turned off the water, got out, toweled off, and got dressed. He went into the great room and stretched out on the couch; falling asleep in minutes.
Grissom woke up soaking wet and breathing like a race horse. He needed something. Getting off of the couch, he went to the desk in the great room and removed the handie-talkie.
"Noble Beast, Noble Beast? This is The Runner calling," Grissom said softly into the hand-held unit.
"Go ahead, Runner," Roger's voice came over.
"Uhm, may I come by and see you?" Grissom asked, tentatively.
"Of course, when do you want to come over?" Roger asked.
"Now," Grissom replied, his hand shaking.
"Okay, see you soon," Roger said.
"Right, Runner signing off." Grissom said, turning off the handie-talkie and returning it into the desk drawer.
Roger walked to the phone and dialed Jim Brass.
"Brass," a tired voice answered.
"Is he all right?" Jim asked, suddenly alert.
"I think so." Roger said, describing the events of the day.
"I think he just needs a place to sleep. He was comfortable at your house, once. His nightmares about his father are very violent and frightening. He needs to know there is someone else there. When he's ready to talk to you, Roger, he will." Jim advised.
"I found his father. He was in Lompoc." Roger stated.
"Was? What was he in for?" Jim asked.
"The last stretch was import/export violation with China. But his jacket is full of physical violence, including an attack on his wife and child almost forty years ago." Roger said, closing his eyes to the information he received on the computer.
"Is he alive?" Jim asked.
"No, he died in 2001. He had been released from prison and relocated back to New York. He was in the Towers." Roger said, softly.
"Can't get any worse, can it?" Jim asked.
"Just the will, Gilbert senior left everything to his son; almost two million dollars. Of course the government wants a piece and it's hung up in channels. I doubt he's even been contacted yet..." Roger explained.
"Man, you pulled a big favour," Jim remarked.
"Yeah, look, he's here. Talk to you later." Roger said, as Noble began to bark.
"Okay, thanks," Jim said, hanging up.
Roger hung up the phone and waited until Grissom knocked on the door. He opened it and saw Grissom, his eyes bloodshot, deep circles under his eyes, carrying his notebook tightly under his right arm, his hand firmly in the pocket of his jeans.
"Come in. Just hang your stuff on the hooks," Roger almost said, as you did the last time, but looked at Grissom and watched him behave almost the same way he did his previous visit.
Grissom removed his shoes and walked into the cabin in his socks. He hung his wet fleece on the wall and walked to the painting of the storm in the corner of the living room. Maybe he does remember Roger thought to himself.
"Can I get you anything to drink? Coffee? Something stronger?" Roger asked quietly.
"I'd love bourbon with a splash of water, if it's not too much trouble." Grissom said, not turning his gaze from the painting.
He held his notebook against his chest, and lost himself in the art. Roger walked up beside him and handed him a short glass of bourbon.
"I painted this about five years ago down at Jim's place." Roger commented sipping a glass of wine.
"I recognize it. I like your use of light. I'm not very good at it." Grissom said, taking a sip of his drink.
"Oh? Is that your notebook? May I take a look at it? Maybe I can make some suggestions?" Roger asked.
Grissom looked at him, a moment of sheer panic passed across his face. Roger turned away from him and walked back into the kitchen to the large table. He removed the bowl of fruit and then patiently sat down to wait for Grissom.
Grissom followed Roger with his eyes, unsure if he could show his sketches. Sara had been the only one to see them and she had never commented one way or the other her opinion. Slowly, he walked to the kitchen and sat down opposite Roger, his notebook was still tight against his chest. Grissom was edgy, his knee bouncing under the table, his hand, when not wrapped around his bourbon glass, was tapping the table top.
"Have you always been called Grissom?" Roger asked out of the blue.
Grissom looked at him, his eyes dark and defensive.
"Some people call me, Gil, or Griss," Grissom said guardedly.
"What did your parents call you?" Roger asked.
"My father called me son or junior. My mother…my mother is deaf. She calls me Gil." Grissom said very quietly.
"I don't know if Jim told you, but I have a penchant for nicknames. I think it comes from the fact that I am mildly dyslexic. I chose the handles for the handie-talkie for instance. Brass is 'Wild Boar' as he generally doesn't shave when he's up here. I am 'Noble Beast' for obvious reasons." Roger said, watching Grissom.
"And I am Runner," Grissom said with a small smile, staring at his bourbon.
"Actually, I'd like to rename you. You are a contradiction to me. You are artistic and athletic, intellectual and passionate; you are your own opposite. I can't pronounce uhm Mossirg. To me, you will be Moss. Yes, you are Moss." Roger said, sipping his wine.
Grissom looked over at him and for the first time did not look away. He even tried to smile a little.
"Moss, may I see your notebook?" Roger asked, softly.
Grissom tightened his hold and sipped his bourbon, keeping his eyes down.
"Please?" Roger asked again.
Slowly Grissom released his death grip on his notebook and put it on the table, sliding it halfway towards Roger. He reached over slowly and turned it around so he could see it. He opened the first page and stared. Grissom stood and walked to the fireplace, feeling a headache coming on. He couldn't be sure yet if it was a migraine and if so what strength. He stood, leaning against the mantle rubbing his temples.
Roger continued to look at the notebook, until he reached the last four pages; those were the ones Grissom had done this morning, not of work or Sara but of his nightmares. Roger saw Gilbert senior as his son had at age seven. Taking a deep breath, he shut the notebook before finishing the images.
"Moss, I'm going to have some cheese and then take a nap. Would you like some cheese?" Roger asked.
Noble bounded out of the bedroom at the mention of cheese.
"Yes, you will get cheese, you beast." Roger said to the dog, rubbing its ears.
"Uhm yeah, uhm no, thank you. I think I'm getting a migraine." Grissom said, sitting down by the fire.
"Sara left your meds with me and instructions. What can I do to help you, Moss?" Roger asked, walking up to him.
"I need, not the Sansert but the other medication, and a dark quiet place, please." Grissom said, eyes closed, facing towards the fire.
"All right," Roger said, tapping out one pill and grabbing a bottle of water. "Take this," Roger said, putting the pill in his hand and then the bottle of water.
"Nuncle? I need to lie down now, please. Please help me, Nuncle." Grissom pleaded, after taking the medication.
"All right, Moss. I will be your Nuncle from Lear and you will be my Moss. Put your arm on my shoulder, and I will guide you to the spare bedroom." Roger said, helping Grissom.
He helped Grissom into bed, shutting the curtains. Grissom reached a hand to him.
"Please, Nuncle, stay with me until I sleep?" Grissom asked, his words slurring.
"I'm here, Moss, just relax. You're safe here." Roger said, pulling up a chair beside the bed.
"It hurts and I'm tired," Grissom said, rolling over on his side.
"You're okay, Moss. Just relax, think of nice thoughts." Roger said in a soothing voice.
Grissom's breathing slowed and Roger could tell he was finally asleep. He walked back to the kitchen to get his wine glass. Refilling it, Roger looked at the notebook and flipped the pages he hadn't looked at. He paled when he saw Grissom's detailed drawings and looked towards the quiet spare bedroom.
"Bastard," Roger said, beneath his breath.
Picking up his full glass of wine and Grissom's water, he walked back into the bedroom and watched him sleep. The nightmares came back as Roger had seen, but when he reached for Grissom he calmed immediately. Roger looked at his watch and noted it was only twelve noon.
Grissom woke up, his headache gone, but the dizziness and nausea stayed behind. He looked at Roger, asleep in the chair next to the bed. Grissom stood carefully and went on a search for the bathroom. He weaved into the living room, surprising Noble, watching him jump and stare. He found the bathroom, used it, washed his face and hands and walked back into the living room. Roger was standing in the bedroom doorway with his water bottle.
"Are you up now or are you going back to bed?" Roger asked.
Grissom looked at him, trying to formulate a reply, but couldn't. Instead he passed by him and fell back asleep in bed. Roger put the water bottle on the bedside table and walked into the living room with his wine. He stoked the fire and sat down in his chair to the left of the fireplace. Noble walked over and lay down in front of the fire, sighing happily. Roger picked up the book he had started the day before and lost himself in the story.
"Nuncle, I believe I am on time now for dinner," Grissom said, smirking in the doorway.
"Yes, you are. Come sit by the fire while I sort the kitchen. Are you hungry at all after a migraine? I have no reference about this." Roger asked, looking up at him from his book.
"This was a mild migraine. In addition, I ran the full path and boxed for a while, so yes I am hungry. I eat anything but tofu." Grissom said with a smile, cleaning his glasses as he walked to sit by the fire.
"That trout was good, wasn't it?" Roger asked over his shoulder.
"It was amazing. I haven't had really truly fresh seafood in years." Grissom said, sitting down.
"Well, Moss, I'm happy you liked it. Now give me a minute, I need to think about dinner. Are you okay with silence or would you like music?" Roger asked, reaching for a CD.
As cello music wove its way through the cabin, Grissom smiled, closing his eyes again, against the nausea. Roger walked over to him and noted he was asleep. He headed into the bedroom and retrieved Grissom's water bottle, setting it near him. Roger walked back to the kitchen and started the broiler. He pulled two filet mignons from the freezer and then stood back to think about the vegetables.
"Moss? Let's go, dinnertime," Roger called from the kitchen.
Grissom groaned and opened his eyes. He wiped his face and stood slowly to walk to the kitchen. He stood behind a chair, unsure if he should sit or remain standing.
"We're pretty casual here, Moss. I'll get dinner tonight; you get lunch tomorrow, okay?" Roger asked.
"That sounds fair, Nuncle." Grissom replied with a smile, before sitting down.
Roger brought out two plates with steak, potatoes and green beans. Setting them down, he poured himself some more wine.
"Are you drinking?"
"Wine will be fine, thank you," Grissom replied.
Roger poured him a glass and then sat down. Grissom looked at the plate in front of him.
"Don't wait, Moss, it will get cold," Roger advised, starting to eat.
Grissom watched him carefully slice into his steak, smelling the meat with the A1 sauce and his nausea returned. He stood and ran out the door to the porch, vomiting over the railing. Roger brought out a damp kitchen towel and laid it on Grissom's neck.
"Nuncle, I'm sorry. I need to go home," Grissom said, walking slowly to get his boots.
"I'll drive you, Moss," Roger said, his voice full of concern.
"No, I need the air. If you could loan me a flashlight, though," Grissom replied, looking back at him.
"Of course, I'll go get it." Roger answered, walking back into the cabin.
Grissom sat on the bench and put on his boots. He opened the front door and retrieved his fleece from the inside hook. Slipping it on, he waited for Roger. Finally Roger walked out with a small paper bag and a flashlight.
"You're not hungry now, but you may be later. Here's dinner," Roger confided.
"Thank you, Nuncle. I'm sorry to mess up your evening," Grissom said softly.
"I accept your apology. Don't forget, you're getting lunch tomorrow." Roger said, smiling.
Grissom grinned weakly and walked slowly down the stairs, turning on the flashlight when he got to the path. Roger walked back into the cabin to finish his dinner, but was interrupted again when the phone rang, its tone: a mourning dove.
"Hi, Roger, it's Sara. I don't suppose he's with you, is he?" Sara asked, hopefully.
"You just missed him. He came by around lunch and developed a mild migraine, took a nap and then we sat down to dinner." Roger said, taking a breath to continue.
"And he got sick? He forgets, he can't eat anything for almost twelve hours after he takes his meds. I'm sorry Roger. I hope he didn't put you out." Sara said.
"No, it's fine. I packed up his dinner. Figure I'll go looking for him around ten tomorrow. He's supposed to make lunch tomorrow." Roger replied.
"Oh? He is a good cook but he gets distracted." Sara noted.
"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind. When is he scheduled back?" Roger asked.
"Thursday night shift," Sara replied.
"All right, thanks, he is still upset, I think. His sketches, well, it's not Rockwell," Roger said.
"When is it ever?" Sara replied softly.
"I'll call you tomorrow when I'm with him. Take care," Roger said.
"Good night, Roger," Sara replied, and closed her phone.
Grissom walked up the stairs to his cabin. He walked in and went straight for the fridge to put in the food. That being done, he locked the front door, walked to the bedroom, stripped, and climbed into bed.
Roger opened the door to Jim's cabin and was struck by the absence of the smell of coffee. He walked in and put Grissom's sketchbook on the kitchen table. He saw the keys to the shed were still on the hook, the fire was cold and the door to the master bedroom was closed. Walking to the door, he opened it and saw the bed was empty. Curious, he started to look for Grissom. He headed into the bathroom and found him curled up on the tile floor, dressed only in just his shorts. Roger knelt closely and realized that Grissom was asleep; there was no sign of an accident.
"Moss? Moss? Time for coffee," Roger said, standing.
Grissom awoke and backed up into the corner, his arms in front of him in a defensive posture. His breathing was fast and the sweat was beginning to appear as the panic mounted.
"Moss, it's me, Nuncle. I'm going to make coffee and breakfast. Take a shower and get dressed. I spoke to Sara last night." Roger said, leaving the bathroom to head for the kitchen.
Grissom sat on the floor and tried to make sense of it all; he couldn't; the only thing he could do was follow directions. He stood slowly, dropped his shorts and took a shower. Fifteen minutes later, he toweled off and dressed in clean clothes, emerging from the bedroom.
"Ah, he lives!" Roger joked, as he poured him a mug of coffee.
Grissom walked into the kitchen and sat at the far end of the kitchen table. He sipped the coffee and remained silent.
"Grissom, do you know who I am?" Roger asked, softly.
Grissom looked at him, the pain evident in his eyes. He looked back down again at his coffee, holding the mug tightly. Roger slid a file to him and stood, leaning against the counter.
"I don't know what else to do, Moss. This is the file on your father." Roger said.
Grissom sipped his coffee, then shifted his position and drew the file closer to him. He opened it up and began to read it. Half way through, his left hand drew into a fist and started to gently pound the table. At the end of the file, Grissom walked to the door, removed the shed keys, and left without a word. Roger poured a mug of coffee and followed at a distance.
Grissom had stripped to his trousers and gloved up by the time Roger had reached the shed. He was on the speed bag, but when Roger walked in, he switched to the heavy bag. He started slowly, in control, but soon lost all cadences as his emotional state took over. Roger walked to him from the worktable and Grissom pulled him into a hug, weeping on his shoulder. Roger stayed strong as long as he could but finally joined in.
Fifteen minutes later, Grissom stopped crying and pulled back to look at Roger.
"I am so sorry to put you through this, Nuncle." Grissom said, honestly.
"Me too, although, when I saw the photos of your father, I knew we had no choice." Roger answered. "Want to go back and try breakfast?"
"I think I owe you lunch," Grissom said, removing his gloves.
"Let's go fishing," Roger suggested.
Grissom froze and took two steps backwards, away from Roger.
"No, I can't go fishing," Grissom said.
"Why not? You ate the fish I caught." Roger asked, confused.
"My father whipped me with a fishing pole. I can't do it. Please don't ask me to." Grissom replied, now standing in the corner opposite the door.
Roger looked at him and realized it was the same position he was in yesterday when he came back from fishing. It all made sense.
"Okay, no problem. I stocked your cabin well. Let's go back and you can surprise me, okay?" Roger asked.
Grissom looked at him for a few minutes before relaxing and walking back to hang his gloves on the wall. He took his shirt and slipped it on, followed by his fleece. He shot a small smile at Roger before opening the door and walking back to the cabin. Roger followed at a respectful distance.
Grissom walked into the cabin and left the door open for Roger. He headed to the fireplace and laid a new fire, setting it as he heard the front door shut. The great room started to warm quickly as Grissom walked back to the kitchen. Roger sat at the end of the kitchen table in front of the open crime file. He shut it quickly and put in on the low wall next to the CD player. Grissom took his coffee and put it in the microwave, set the time and pressed 'start'. He shifted his attention to the CD player and also pressed 'start'. The microwave binged and he removed his mug, taking a quick sip before looking at what was available for lunch. Roger sat back, sipping his cold coffee, watching the grace with which Grissom moved; a boxer certainly, but also, perhaps, a dancer.
An hour later, Grissom sat down to broiled chicken breasts with a lemon sauce, wild rice, and peas. Both he and Roger agreed that ice tea would suffice for now. Roger set down his fork and sat back.
"Moss, this was very good. I think I need to talk to Sara,"
Grissom looked at him, tilting his head, raising an eyebrow.
"She said you cook well but you get distracted." Roger explained.
"Well, yes, when she's in the room, but that's different." Grissom said quickly, before he could edit his mouth.
Roger looked at him and started to laugh. Grissom joined in and the awkwardness was gone.
"You up for a walk?" Roger asked.
"Yeah, I could do a walk, but then I need to sleep." Grissom said, openly.
"Get a cap and another layer and let's go." Roger said, slipping his flashlight into his pocket.
Grissom put on a shell and Jim's LVPD cap and followed Roger out the door. The walked along the path, counter clockwise, following the lake. Grissom relaxed and started seeing animal prints, scat, and bugs; altogether making him happier. Roger smiled at him and nodded at the appropriate places.
It was almost three o'clock when they arrived at Roger's cabin.
"Please, come in for a moment," Roger said, climbing the stairs slowly.
Grissom followed, removing his muddy boots, and stepped inside the cabin. He started to become anxious from a faint smell of A1 steak sauce and stood with his back to the door.
"Moss, you all right?" Roger asked.
"The smell, uhm, the steak sauce, sensory stimulant, my father," Grissom got out.
Roger opened the window nearest them and the smell disappeared quickly.
"Thanks," Grissom said, calming considerably.
Roger nodded as he picked up the phone and dialed. A voice answered and he handed the phone to Grissom.
"For you, call me when you're done." Roger said, taking Noble out for a walk.
"Hi, bugman, how are you?" Sara asked.
Grissom stood there, trying to getting a hold of his feelings of abandonment, fear, and love.
"Grissom, I'm so sorry, but you now know you weren't ready to come home, right?" Sara asked, sniffling.
Grissom couldn't reply, the tears starting down his face. He leaned against the logs of the wall, his eyes shut tightly.
"Please talk to me, have you and Roger come to terms? What did you make for lunch?" Sara continued.
"Chicken," Grissom managed, rubbing his eyes, standing, and pacing a bit.
"How did you cook the chicken?" Sara prodded.
"Chicken breasts with a lemon sauce, wild rice, and peas." Grissom said, starting to relax.
"Griss, how are you? What's going on? Are you sleeping?" Sara asked.
"Nuncle found me in the bathroom this morning," Grissom answered, his voice low and quiet.
"He has a problem with names. He is calling me Moss, Grissom reversed and shortened; as he says I am a dichotomy. I call him Nuncle, from Lear." Grissom explained.
"Did you dream about your father last night?" Sara inquired.
"I don't know. I don't remember. I just remember waking up, seeing his face, and being terrified." Grissom admitted.
"But you just said, wait, no you didn't. Have you and Roger come to terms?" Sara asked, on her game.
"He's fine, I just have some things to get around." Grissom replied.
"Okay, you're back on duty Thursday night. I'd love it if you could be home Thursday morning." Sara stated.
"Then that's what I'll do," Grissom said. "Sara, I love you, and I miss you so much it hurts."
"I'm glad to know that the feelings go both ways, bugman. You take care, and I'll see you in a couple of days." Sara said.
"Bye," Grissom said, not wanting to hang up the phone.
"Bye," Sara said, closing her phone.
Grissom pressed a button to relieve the horrible off the hook noise and set the phone down. He walked out to the porch and found Roger and Noble there, quietly looking out into the forest.
"Thanks for that," Grissom said.
"You're welcome. I'm going in for a nap. If you want to get together, call me in a couple of hours, although I think you may want to sketch tonight." Roger said.
"Sleep well, Nuncle," Grissom said, walking to the bottom of the stairs.
"Sleep well, Moss," Roger replied with a smile, holding Noble, as Grissom turned to walk down the path to Jim's cabin.
Grissom walked through the forest, his rib aching slightly, his hand throbbing slightly, but somehow, overall, he felt lighter. He walked up the stairs and into the cabin, locked the door behind him, and pulled off his outerwear. He yawned and cracked his neck before walking into the great room. He stretched out on the sofa and pulled the wool blanket on top of him. Very soon he fell asleep.
Grissom woke up from a sound nap, free of nightmares, chilled; the blanket having slid to the floor. He re-laid the fire and lit it. Standing nearby to make sure it caught, he put the screen in place before walking into the bathroom to take a hot shower.
Grissom felt the hot water on his sore muscles as well as his rib but welcomed the pain, sensing he was almost on the other side of this darkness he had fallen into. He stepped out of the shower and dressed in his own sweats. Walking back into the kitchen, he sat down and started to read his father's file that Roger had brought with his sketchbook. Grissom reached over and turned on the CD player, listening to Cellos in the Mist loudly. He read the whole file, enraged, hurt and terrified. Reaching for his sketchbook, he pulled a chewed pencil from the binding and started to draw, lost in the moment.
Suddenly there was a muffled sound coming from the desk. At first, Grissom couldn't place it, but when he opened the desk drawer he smiled, hearing a familiar voice.
"Sorry, Nuncle, Brass keeps the handie-talkie in the desk drawer. What can I do for you?" Grissom replied, walking to the kitchen.
"Have you started dinner yet?" Roger asked.
"What, dinner, no," Grissom replied, pulling his sleeve back to read his watch; six o'clock.
"I made some amazing muffins. I thought I'd bring them over and have dinner with you, that is if you can stand the company." Roger said, hopefully.
"Sure, what are you up for? I'll start cooking," Grissom asked, standing in front of the fridge.
"Pork chops?" Roger suggested.
"Okay, do you have any chilled white wine, otherwise I'll put some in the freezer," Grissom said, pulling two pork loin chops from the freezer, setting them out on the counter.
"I have a lovely Sauvignon blanc I'll bring over. Oh, may I bring Noble?" Roger asked.
"Sure, the more the merrier," Grissom replied.
"See you soon, out," Roger said.
Grissom put the handie-talkie on the window shelf above the sink and started to work. He stopped the cello CD and put in Chris Botti. Turning the volume down to five, he hit 'play' and looked at his larder to see what, aside from chops, they could have for dinner. He found couscous and a bag of frozen Italian cut beans. Grissom removed the pork chops from their plastic sleeves and put them on a plate before setting them in the microwave for a quick thaw. He made a marinade and after the thaw process was done, set the chops in it, while lighting the broiler.
The door opened and Noble bounded in, happy to sit by the fire after retrieving his bone from under the coffee table. Roger walked in and shut the door behind him with his shoulder, handing Grissom two bottles of wine.
"Thanks, would you like a glass?" Grissom asked.
"Yes, please," Roger said, hanging up his coat on the wall hooks.
Grissom turned to look at him over his shoulder as he opened the wine.
"What did you do, drive?"
"Yeah, it's easier at night. Otherwise Noble is going after every living creature out there." Roger said, sitting at the end of the kitchen table.
"Right," Grissom said, handing him a small rocks glass of wine.
"No wine glass?" Roger asked.
"They're a pain to wash," Grissom explained, pouring a glass for himself.
Roger chuckled and then looked at Grissom's sketchbook, closed with a pencil carefully holding a place.
"Moss, did you sketch this afternoon?" Roger asked.
"Yeah, I did. What about you?" Grissom asked, placing the beans in a saucepan with water.
"No, just a lovely nap and…damn, I'll be right back." Roger said, leaving the cabin.
He returned shortly with a plate covered by tin foil and handed it to Grissom.
"Ah, the muffins," Grissom said, removing the tin foil.
Roger resumed his position at the head of the table and sipped his wine. His hand touched Grissom's sketchbook but he didn't open it.
"It's okay, you can look," Grissom said, turning back to start the couscous.
Roger started from the pencil marker and worked forwards. There were five sketches of the same woman, her eyes bright and alive. The next sketch was simply a pair of hands; woman's hands, at that. The next sketch showed the woman from above, bleeding from a split lip, tears rolling down her face.
"Your mother, Moss?" Roger asked, looking up to him.
Grissom nodded, not turning from the oven as he put the chops in the broiler and set the timer. He started the beans and set the couscous in the microwave; bachelor style, starting it as well.
"I think you're wrong," Roger said softly, turning back to the sketch of Loraine Lewis in the study.
Grissom turned and arched an eyebrow in confusion.
"Come here, I'll show you," Roger instructed.
Grissom picked up his wine and slowly walked to stand behind Roger, looking at the sketch.
"You said you didn't think you had a sense of light. To a degree, you may be right; you have a sense of shadow and darkness or more aptly put; an absence of light." Roger said, pointing to the shadows across her face and chest.
Grissom sipped his wine without comment. Roger looked at him trying to read his emotions. Grissom set his wine glass down and set the table, unsure of how to respond to what appeared to him to be an obvious statement. There's no light in my world except Sara. Why would there be light in my art?
As if he was reading Grissom's thoughts, Roger turned to the sketch of Sara before she and Brass left him alone for the afternoon.
"Except with your sketch of Sara, where your use of light is really extraordinary," Roger said, staring at the sketch.
The timer for the pork chops went off and Grissom walked to the broiler and turned them over. He reset the timer and leaned back against the counter, studying Roger, who suddenly seemed lost in thought.
"You okay, Nuncle?"
"Just remembering things, Moss. Just memories," Roger answered softly, closing the book.
The beans were boiling so Grissom turned his attention back to dinner, placing the muffins in the oven to warm from the heat of the broiler.
"Who's this we've been listening to?" Roger asked, breaking the silence.
"Chris Botti, jazz trumpet," Grissom replied, as he removed the couscous, letting it rest.
"I like him," Roger commented.
"Yeah, it's one of the things I listen to when I need to escape," Grissom said, still facing away from Roger.
"What else do you listen to?" Roger asked.
"You're kidding me, right? I thought you knew; cellos, specifically Yo-Yo Ma." Grissom said, dishing everything onto plates.
He put the plates on the table and topped off their wine glasses before sitting down to Roger's right.
"Looks great, Moss," Roger said, digging in.
Grissom blushed slightly as he sipped his wine and started to eat his chops.
"The muffins!" they cried simultaneously.
Grissom jumped up and removed them from the oven without mitts, dropping them on the counter. He reached down and turned off the broiler, found a basket and a kitchen towel, put the muffins in the basket, and covered it with the towel. He walked back to the table and put the basket down.
"Disaster avoided," Roger observed.
Grissom chuckled and concentrated on his meal, the music, and the wine. Roger snuck looks at him, noticing how relaxed he looked compared to the day before or even that morning.
They finished the meal without conversation, opened the second bottle of wine and moved to the great room.
"Moss, can you tell me about the last time you saw your father?" Roger asked.
"Why do you want to know?" Grissom asked, staring at the fire and Noble, stretched out happily in front of the fireplace.
"I don't know that I do want to know, really, but I think you need to tell me." Roger replied, looking over at him in the other leather chair.
Grissom sat in his chair, wishing he was drinking bourbon, not wine. He needed the strength, the numbness, and the control it afforded him.
"My mother has a genetic hearing disorder and went totally deaf when I was a child. I became her ears. She took me to ASL school with her and I learned to sign as well as read lips. At first, it was a game between us, but when my father returned from his business trips, he was jealous of our relationship. He would scream at my mother when her back was turned; horrible hateful things. Then, my father began the physical abuse. He was a violent man with a temper. He hit me if I misbehaved. I knew he hit my mother, but suddenly, it escalated to straight abuse. He came home from fishing and screamed at my mother to clean the fish. She couldn't hear him, of course, so he threw the fish at her back and started to hit her with the fishing pole."
Grissom stopped to sip his wine, the tremor in his hand had returned.
"I couldn't let him do it so I got in the middle and he beat me,"
"But there wasn't a police report…" Roger stated, confused.
Grissom shook his head, looking at his hands and the glass of wine. Roger went to the fridge and brought out the second bottle of wine, refilling their glasses and leaving it on the coffee table.
"The beatings continued until one day, I snapped. He was hitting my mother and I home-runned him." Grissom said, standing now as he paced in the great room, his breathing ragged at the memory.
"My Louisville Slugger; I was sure I had killed him. There was so much blood. I turned to care for my mother…" Grissom said, pacing, his limp now very obvious.
"Who was on the floor, but he came after you, didn't he?"
"Yeah, I woke up in the hospital, my left leg was fractured, and my right leg was bruised, my father gone." Grissom said softly.
"You were victorious,"
"We were safe," Grissom said, his voice flat, yet full of anger.
"Moss, who am I?" Roger asked softly.
Grissom turned, tears streaming down his face, his weight on his right leg and said, "Nuncle, you are Nuncle."
Roger stood and embraced him, feeling that Grissom might really be able to go home, soon.
"Noble, we've overstayed our welcome for a simple dinner. Get some sleep, Moss, we'll catch up tomorrow." Roger said, holding him at arms length.
Noble got to his feet slowly at the mention of his name and walked to Roger.
"Thanks for the muffins," Grissom said, wiping his eyes with the heel of his hand.
"Thanks for the dinner. Sleep, Moss, don't think, just sleep," Roger said turning to go.
He took his coat off the wall hook and slipped it on.
"I'll try, Nuncle. That's all I can do," Grissom replied.
Roger and Noble walked out into the dark night, leaving Grissom alone with dirty dishes, silence, and memories.
Grissom cleaned up, did the dishes, and took a quick shower before bed. He was edgy. Walking back to the front door, he double-checked that he had locked it. He drank the rest of the wine and felt that he had enough of a buzz to fall asleep. Stripping to his shorts, he got into bed and fell asleep.
Grissom woke up, his heart racing from his nightmare. He fell back asleep quickly and started his cycle again, twenty minutes of sleep followed by a cracker nightmare. This continued for two hours, until he remembered his dream. He saw his father with the baseball bat, above his head, and the smile on his face. Grissom woke up, leapt to his feet and fell to the floor as if his leg was broken again. The pain was real in his half- awake state, so he lay on the floor until he could pull himself together and stand up. He put on his sweats and boots and walked into the kitchen. Making a fresh pot of coffee, he looked for a thermos and found one. He took the portable CD player that Sara had brought up, the headphones, and picked up his CD case, loading it with Cellos in the Mist and Chris Botti. The coffee was ready and he filled up the thermos, smiling at the smell. Walking to the hooks by the door, he pulled down his fleece and Jim's LVPD hat. Putting both on, he grabbed his precious cargo and the shed keys, heading off in the early morning glow.
He unlocked the shed and poured a cup of coffee after turning on the lights. He searched the worktable and started to lay out his tools. When he felt he had everything ready, he put on his headphones and loaded Cellos in the Mist. Soon he was lost in his work.
Roger walked into Jim's cabin and smelled the coffee. He smiled and poured himself a cup. He looked at the nail on the wall and saw that the shed keys were missing. Curious, he left the cabin and walked to the shed. Opening the door, he saw Grissom hunched over the worktable, humming softly. To his right, lined up like planes on a carrier, were three trout flies. Two were black with a sprout of red fiber and the third was golden, with a large black spray of fiber near the curve of the hook. Roger watched as Grissom built another of the golden flies. His hands were steady, his concentration so rock solid he had not yet noticed Roger.
Roger tapped his foot on the floor and within moments Grissom turned to look at the floor. He smiled and pulled off the headphones.
"Cellos, don't worry about it. May I get my fishing pole?" Roger asked, not moving from the doormat.
"Give me a minute to finish these. What time is it anyway? Are you early?" Grissom asked in curiosity.
"Not according to any schedule I've seen." Roger replied.
Grissom grunted, the music still playing through the headphones, barely audible. A few minutes later, Grissom finished the fly and placed it with its mates. He reached for an Altoid mint box that he had fitted with foam and gently placed the flies in it.
"Okay, the gold ones are Sympetrum corruptum, the variegated meadowhawk dragonfly. The black ones are a copy from my friend Dave in Seattle, so they are Dave's Black Beetle. Use them in good health." Grissom said, standing to crack his neck.
Grissom poured himself the last of his coffee and stepped back from the worktable and the path from the locked cases.
"Oh, Moss, these are art. Are you sure you won't go fishing with me? I want you to share the experience with me." Roger said, holding the tin closely for inspection.
"Nuncle, I can't, I'm sorry." Grissom said, looking at the case and starting to hyperventilate.
Roger picked up the CD player, case, and shed keys, closed the thermos and held them all out for him.
"Okay, I'll see you later. Don't eat breakfast," Roger warned.
"I won't, Nuncle," Grissom said, taking his things and leaving Roger alone in the shed.
Roger walked into Jim's cabin and was not surprised to see Grissom sacked out on the couch. He was surprised to see the sketchbook open. There were more sketches of Grissom senior, some more graphic than others. But the last sketch caught him off guard. Grissom had sketched Roger in perfect detail as he had looked last night when he was remembering. It was both flattering and frightening at the same time. One of the fish in the creel moved weakly and brought Roger back to the present. He put the sketchbook down, and turned it to the page it was on when he walked in.
"Moss," he called, "time for fish."
Grissom didn't move. Roger set the creel on the counter and walked to the sofa. Grissom was dreaming again and again it was not pleasant. The agony on his face and his tense body made Roger want to hold him safely in his arms. Instead, he tried passively to wake him.
"Moss, come on, wake up,"
Grissom opened his eyes while Roger held his ground. Grissom sat up quickly and shifted to the far end of the sofa. Not this again, Roger thought. Grissom looked at his hands in his lap, trying to wake up and get settled.
"Moss, the flies were perfect. They were almost jumping out of the lake. They especially liked your dragonflies." Roger said, his enthusiasm pouring out.
Grissom looked at him for another minute and then smiled in recognition. He stood slowly as Roger pulled off the winning fly from his vest to show him. There was some wear and tear, but it looked more like a dragonfly with the damage. He walked to the kitchen, rubbing his beard thoughtfully. He stopped and looked at the open sketchbook, reaching over to shut it. He filled up his coffee mug and put it in the microwave, heating it up.
"So, Nuncle, how many fish did my flies catch for you?" Grissom asked, leaning against the counter, his arms crossed over his chest.
"Twenty but I threw all but six back." Roger said, having followed him back into the kitchen.
Grissom raised his left eyebrow as the microwave rang. He reached around to his coffee and took a tentative sip. Smiling he took a bigger sip.
"Shall I get to work then?" Grissom asked, putting his mug down and picking up the creel.
"Sure, mind if I put on some music?" Roger asked, standing by the CD player.
"No, of course not," Grissom replied, laying the fish in the sink.
Roger found the small CD player and pulled Cellos in the Mist out, slipped it into the bigger machine and hit play. The lovely dark tones filled the space and Roger turned the volume up a bit, missing Grissom's chuckle.
Roger sat at the table and watched Grissom filet the fish. He imagined this was probably similar to the focus that he needed at work. He was methodical and after he had finished two fish, he looked over at Roger.
"Are you going to sit there or are you going to make breakfast?" he grinned.
Roger looked at him for a moment before responding, "Yeah, Moss, I'll make breakfast, although by the time you're done it might be lunch."
Grissom shot him a dirty look and then laughed, a rich deep sound as he returned to cleaning the fish. Again he missed a look from Roger that spoke volumes. Roger was on auto-pilot, making trout for breakfast, and very soon the kitchen smelled wonderful. Grissom had risen to the challenge and started to work faster, nicking his finger in the process.
"Damn," he cried.
"Let me look at it," Roger said, trying to get a hold of Grissom's hand.
"Damn," he repeated.
"It's deep," Roger said, reaching for a paper towel, "you know the drill, I suspect. Apply pressure and keep your hand above your heart. I'll go get the Band-Aids." Walking first to the stove to flip the trout filets.
Grissom stood, focusing on the music and not on the blood that was seeping through the towels. Roger came back and spread a piece of tin foil on the table before helping Grissom sit down, his hand over the foil. Roger set the butterflies, the peroxide, and the bandaging supplies, in addition to the cotton in front of him. Gently he pulled the paper towel from Grissom's finger, the blood was still there but it had dropped off a bit. He poured the peroxide and watched the bubbles turn reddish as the wound was cleaned. Carefully, Roger dried off Grissom's finger and handed him a clean cotton ball.
"As I apply a butterfly, get the ooze." He instructed.
"Got it," Grissom replied.
They worked well as a team. When the three butterflies we applied, Roger put a dollop of Neosporin on the cut and covered it with more gauze. Grissom looked at it for the first time, the index finger of his left hand just started to throb. He paled slightly at the pain.
"You okay? Need some aspirin?" Roger asked.
"Aleve probably wouldn't be a bad idea." Grissom admitted.
"Where is it?" Roger asked.
"In my Dop kit in the bathroom." Grissom replied, resting his left hand to his left shoulder.
"It'll have to wait a minute," Roger said, walking to the stove to remove the trout from the flame.
He then walked to the bedroom, retrieved the bottle of Aleve and opened it, leaving it in Grissom's right hand. Roger put Grissom's coffee cup within reach also and then turned his focus back to breakfast. Grissom socked back three Aleve with his coffee and coasted, listening to cello music, ignoring the pain.
"Here we go, Moss," Roger said, setting the plates in front of them.
Grissom started, eating slowly, knowing his body reacted to shock in different ways. He looked at Roger who seemed sad and distracted.
"You okay?" Grissom asked.
"Yeah," Roger replied.
"What was his name?" Grissom asked.
Roger stopped, his fork in mid air, his eyes narrowing slightly. He put the fork down on the table, unable to look Grissom in the eye.
"How did you know?" Roger asked
"Bunch of little random things, really. I just followed the evidence." Grissom replied, sipping more coffee.
"Jeremy, his name was Jeremy and tomorrow, he would be forty eight." Roger said in a whisper.
Grissom reached over with his right hand to grab Roger's left and hold it tightly.
"When did he die?" Grissom asked, his voice just above a whisper.
"He died when he was nine; he had leukemia. God, he was so much like you, head in the clouds about science, but still an athlete and good boy. He wasn't scared. Martha and I were terrified, but he learned about the disease and explained it to us. He was seven when he was diagnosed and he was able to explain to us what was going on. I was a trial lawyer, my wife a corporate litigator, and yet he had to explain where the MDs couldn't. That was Jeremy." Roger said, his eyes full of tears.
Grissom stood and walked around the table to give him a hug. Roger stood and clung to him crying big tears onto Grissom's shirt. It had been a tough couple of days for him and his emotions just let go.
Finally, Grissom felt the storm subside and pulled back from Roger.
"Okay? Continue with breakfast now?" Grissom asked.
"Yeah, okay." Roger said, wiping his eyes.
They sat back down and finished breakfast, stealing glances at each other, checking their status.
"Nuncle, I'm leaving late tonight for home." Grissom said, softly.
Roger looked at his empty plate.
"Would you come to dinner tonight?" Roger asked.
"You couldn't keep me away. Can I bring anything?" Grissom asked.
"No, just your sketchbook and yourself." Roger said, softly.
They sat in silence listening to the crackle of the fire.
"I've got to let Noble out. See you at six." Roger said, standing quickly.
"Thanks for breakfast," Grissom said.
"Thanks for the flies." Roger said, walking out into the morning air.
Grissom turned back to the kitchen and sighed, starting to do the dishes.
Grissom started to pack up his stuff, leaving out his sketchbook and pencil. He looked again through the images and stopped at Roger's. He sat down and focused, sketching another. Sitting back in his chair, he looked at the image and sighed. He walked into the bedroom, stripped the bed and started a load of laundry, including all the clothes he had borrowed.
Grissom poured a glass of wine and sat on the porch, listening to the world. He thought about running or working out in the shed, but truthfully, his heart wasn't in it. The dryer was done, and he had folded the laundry, put it away, and remade the bed. The truth was he didn't want to leave Roger. He did want to see Sara. He started to get edgy and poured himself another glass of wine. He calmed down and started to sketch from memory; Doc Robbins, Nick, Warrick, Jim and Catherine. He sketched Jim four different times; at the arcade, at the pool, in the desert, and at the lab. He looked at Sara's image and drew her again. He found it difficult to keep his eyes open, finally laying his pencil down and walking to the sofa. Grissom stretched out on the sofa and fell into a deep sleep.
Grissom stretched and rolled over, waking himself up. He looked at his watch and stood slowly. Walking into the bedroom, he stripped off his clothes and took a hot shower. He dressed in a plaid shirt and dark pants. Walking out to the front door, he put on a heavier coat, stuck a flashlight in the pocket, grabbed his sketchbook and pencil, and headed out to Roger's cabin.
He walked easily along the trail, using the flashlight, but annoyed that it blew his night vision.
Thirty minutes later, he came upon Roger's cabin and heard a woman's voice through the open window. He walked silently onto the deck, the wind blowing away, and looked through the window. He saw a blonde woman on a television screen. Roger appeared soon after and Grissom realized he was watching home movies; the woman was Martha, and the boy who appeared briefly was Jeremy. Grissom was enthralled by her, hearing her voice, the tilt of her head, the way Roger behaved with her. He sat on the porch steps and sketched as he heard the voices from the movie.
Roger turned off the television and VCR when he realized how late it was. He looked out the front door window and saw Grissom, hunched over, sketching, while sitting on the stairs. Smiling, he poured himself a glass of wine and turned on the stereo. The sounds of cello music filled the room.
Ten minutes later, Grissom finished and walked into the cabin, laying his sketchbook on the table near the door.
"Hi," he said, softly.
"Hi, want a glass of wine?" Roger asked.
"Sure, thanks," Grissom said, hanging his coat on the hook by the door.
Roger handed him a glass of red wine.
"Cheers," Roger said.
"Cheers," Grissom responded.
He noted a certain somberness in Roger and attributed it to the home movies.
"What is on the menu tonight?" he asked.
"Spinach ravioli with a meat sauce," Roger said, and then looked back, when he caught Moss's suspicious expression. "What? Got a problem with ravioli?"
"No, I'm surprised that you'd make ravioli." Grissom said, sipping his wine.
"I didn't make it; I bought it from these maniacs called Fresh Pasta. It is that, made fresh and flash frozen. Marvelous, really, just terrific." Roger commented.
"I apologize, I love pasta. Sara is pretty strict at home so this will be a wonderful splurge." Grissom said, grinning.
Roger smiled back and went into the kitchen to start dinner.
"Did you sketch today?" Roger asked.
"Yeah, some of my friends and co-workers at the lab," Grissom replied.
"May I see?" Roger said, having set the water to boil, and setting the sauce in the microwave.
"Sure," Grissom said, walking to his sketchbook.
He thumbed through the book until he saw Doc Robbins face and then handed the book to Roger.
"That's Albert Robbins, the chief coroner." Grissom said.
"Jim has told me about him. What's that? A crutch?" Roger asked.
"Yeah, about fifteen years ago, I guess, he was driving home and was clipped by a semi. He lost his left leg above the knee and his right leg at the knee. He is one of the most decent and grounded men I know." Grissom said, softly.
Roger turned the page and smiled; Sara. He turned the page again and saw a woman of intensity.
"Catherine?" Roger asked, turning the book to him.
"Yeah, how did you know?" Grissom asked, arching his left eyebrow.
"Let's just say that Jim doesn't pull punches talking about work and that you're very good." Roger said, returning his concentration to the sketchbook.
Grissom looked at him and smiled.
"Nick?" Roger asked.
"Warrick?" Roger asked again.
Roger turned the page and saw a young man, hair standing at odds, with a goofy grin, and smiled himself.
"Oh, yeah," Grissom replied, sipping his wine.
Before Grissom could retrieve his book, Roger turned the page and his breath caught audibly. His knees weakened and he tried to find a place to sit down.
"Easy, Nuncle," Grissom said, helping him sit on the stool in the kitchen.
"You saw the movie?" Roger whispered.
"I got here early. I'm sorry if I upset you." Grissom said, his hand on Roger's shoulder.
Roger reached up to grab his hand. "No, you've opened a door long closed."
He turned the pages and saw Martha again, then Jeremy, and then the two of them together. The images weren't from the movie but were Grissom's interpretations, and yet they were perfect.
The timer went off in the kitchen and Grissom walked over to turn it off and put in the thawed pasta. Resetting the timer for four minutes he returned to Roger's side.
"Tell me about her," Grissom softly instructed.
Roger looked at the sketch, his thumb gently rubbing the edge. He took a breath and a sip of his wine.
"First of all, you know she was a saint, because she married me. She was a litigator and so much smarter than me, but she never, ever, used it. We met in law school and after we passed the bar, we got married. We waited five years, to get our careers underway, before we had a child. God, she was so wonderful." Roger said, stopping to regain his composure.
"You lost her five years ago, sold your house in town, and bought this cabin." Grissom said, his analytical mind taking over.
"You're scary, you know that? Yes, Martha died five years ago: cancer. She lived for three months after the diagnosis in absolute hell; and me with her." Roger said, barely audible.
The timer went off in the kitchen and Grissom went over to turn on the microwave to heat up the sauce. Roger put down the sketchbook and went to the master bedroom.
Grissom shut the sketchbook and put it near the front door, noting the coil wire and his migraine meds. He refilled his wineglass and stood by the fire, lost in its glow.
"I'm sorry," Roger said, as re-emerged from the bedroom.
"No need to be. I'm sorry if I prompted this." Grissom replied.
"No, you're okay. Well, it seems as though you're making dinner at my house tonight! Tell me, do we have any bread?" Roger asked, walking to the kitchen.
"Uhm, I'm sorry, sir, I'm unaware of any bread," Grissom said, with a grin.
"Damn help, you can't count on them," Roger teased, as he found a half loaf of Italian bread.
He sliced it and put butter and garlic in the slices before wrapping it in tin foil and setting it in the cold oven. He set it for 200 degrees and then settled back on the stool.
They listened to the music, the low notes, as they came through the stereo. It had been a good time for both of them, cleansing some wounds, airing some issues, and neither of them really wanted it to end. The microwave bell rang and Roger went to the pasta and turned it off.
"Can I help?" Grissom asked.
"Pour more wine," Roger suggested as he started to put the pasta in the sieve.
A few minutes later, they sat down to dinner at the kitchen table. Roger pulled out the parmesean/reggiano cheese from the fridge and they settled down.
"This is delivered to you?" Grissom said, incredulous.
"Yeah, Fresh Pasta. Brilliant stuff," Roger said, his mouth full.
"You're not kidding," Grissom replied, eating slowly to enjoy the taste.
The meal was continued in silence except for the CD and Noble's nails on the floor and he shifted positions. Grissom was anxious, but he didn't know why. He didn't want to leave Roger, but he did want to get back to Sara. He shifted in his chair.
"Moss, you're acting like a teenager, what's up?" Roger asked.
"I don't want to leave you, but I want to see Sara," Grissom answered honestly.
"Moss, you are a contradiction. You want to stay here with an old man when there's a young woman waiting for you at home." Roger said, chuckling.
Grissom's face darkened and he walked into the living room. He stood by the fireplace, his weight on his right leg.
"I'm sorry," Roger said, walking silently to his side.
Grissom turned to him, unable to keep his mouth and emotions in check.
"You think that's what you are? An old man?" Grissom accused, his breathing now fast as he started to pace.
"God, I mean," Grissom said, trying to get his words together. "I've told you things I haven't told another living soul. It wasn't because you were an 'old man', Roger, it was because you were you. You wanted to listen, you were interested. Do you realize how rare that is? I have no one in my life like that. I have friends, but you're different. You don't expect anything from me in the end."
Roger stood, his mouth open, realizing the impact he'd had on this other man.
"Moss, I'm sorry for trivializing our relationship. That was callous. I have no one in my life who has asked the questions that you have. I have friends as well, but you, well, you are Moss." Roger said, his emotions coming through.
Grissom turned to him and grabbed him in an emotional hug. His tears fell, unashamed, as did Roger's. They held each other for several minutes before their emotions got under control.
"Want some dessert?" Roger asked, reaching up and wiping the tears from Grissom's face.
Grissom chuckled and shook his head.
"I'll take a bourbon," Grissom said.
"When are you driving?" Roger asked.
"Midnight or one, I have to stay up all night to try to get back on schedule anyway." Grissom explained.
Roger nodded as he poured himself another glass of wine and Grissom a fresh glass of bourbon.
"Roger, why aren't there any paintings of Jeremy and Martha?" Grissom asked.
"I've never been able to draw people. I know it doesn't make sense, but that's the truth." Roger said.
They stood in the living room, listening to the fire, drinking their drinks. Grissom finished his bourbon and set his glass down.
"Nuncle, I have to go," he said softly.
Roger walked up to him, his eyes filling with tears.
"Please come up and visit. Even if Jim isn't here, you know I have a guest room. Please consider this another haven for you." Roger said, the tears falling silently down his face.
Grissom looked at the floor, trying to summon the courage.
"Nuncle, Roger, I can't thank you, you've….you've centered me." Grissom said, reaching for the other man's shoulders.
They held each other for several minutes until Grissom silently broke away. He walked to the front door and put on his coat. Picking up his sketchbook, coil wire, and migraine meds, he left the cabin without looking back.
Roger stood, tears streaming down his face, and then walked into the kitchen. He finished his glass of wine and poured another before picking up the phone and hitting a speed dial number.
"Hi, this is Jim, I'm probably at work. Leave a message. I'll call you back in twenty-four hours unless the shit has hit the fan." The voice said, followed by a long beep.
"It's Roger and I just wanted to say, thank you." He said, and hung up the phone.
Grissom walked into Jim's cabin and looked at his watch: nine o'clock. He was anxious and turned on the CD player, listening to Chris Botti. He took off his coat and settled at the kitchen table and sketched. On the third run through of the CD, Grissom was cognizant that time, indeed, had passed. He looked at his watch and smiled when he read midnight. Carefully looking through his sketchbook, he tore four images out; Jeremy smiling, Martha smiling; Jim smiling; and an image from tonight of Roger, happy and free of his memories. He set them side by side on the kitchen table as Roger had done with the photos of his father. Grissom picked up his duffle, removed the CD, grabbed the sketchbook, and left the cabin. He walked to the Denali and put his duffle in the back. Moving to the passenger compartment, he put the CD on the divider before moving to the hood. He raised it and reinstalled the coil wire. Walking back to the driver's seat, he got in and shut the door before starting the engine. He opened the CD carousel and put Chris Botti back in its slot. He shuffled his CDs until he reached Clapton and hit 'play'.
Grissom pulled into the parking space of his townhouse and started to collect his stuff. He searched for his house keys, and then locked his car, walking up to the front door in silence. Unlocking the door, he walked in, dropped his keys in the dish by the door and his duffle at the bottom of the circular staircase. He locked the front door behind him, turned on a light and then picked up his duffle to take it upstairs. He unpacked and realized that he was still anxious. Grissom got into his running clothes, pulled out his sketchbook and went downstairs. He put the sketchbook on the breakfast bar, grabbed his keys and went out for a run.
Grissom walked in from his run, tired and sore, but still edgy. He dropped his keys in the dish and walked to the kitchen for a bottle of water. Leaning against the counter, he socked it back. Still feeling edgy, he reached for the Maker's Mark, poured a shot, and drank it. Five minutes later, he started to quiet. Grissom walked to the sofa, sat down, and started to read Forensics Monthly.
Sara pulled her car in and smiled when she saw Grissom's Denali. She put a hand on the hood and felt the cold, realizing he had been home for a while. Walking up the stairs to the townhouse, she reached the top step and unlocked the door. The lights were on, and as she walked further into the living room, she found him asleep, but dreaming. Unsure if it was a nightmare or just a dream, she took a chance.
"Griss? Gil? Wake up! You need to take a shower." Sara said firmly.
Grissom opened his eyes and looked at her, obviously not recognizing her at first. Then he smiled a broad smile.
"Hi, yourself. Look I'll make breakfast, but you need to shower," Sara said, hands on her hips.
"Uhm, okay," Grissom said, slowly getting to his feet.
"When did you get here?" Sara asked, noticing the bandage on his index finger of his left hand.
"About five, then I went for a run," Grissom said, walking up the stairs.
Sara smiled and shook her head as she watched her lover climb the circular staircase. She pulled eggs, cheddar cheese, and milk from the fridge and started to make cheesy scrambled eggs; his favourite. She heard the shower turn on and continued to cook. The phone rang and she reached it on the second ring.
"Hi, Sara, it's Roger. Uhm, I'm just calling to make sure he got in okay."
"Hi, Roger. He got in at five, went for a run, and is now in the shower. I'm making breakfast. Can I have him call you in the early afternoon? He'll sleep most of the morning." Sara explained.
"He doesn't have to call, I just wanted to make sure he was okay." Roger said, the disappointment in his voice showing.
"Okay, well, thanks for calling. Take care." Sara said.
"Bye," Sara said, hanging up the phone.
She reached for the pad and wrote Roger's number and instructions to call on wake up and stuck it to the fridge. All important messages went on the fridge. It was a routine, but one that worked.
The shower stopped and five minutes later, Grissom came downstairs, dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. He walked up to Sara, and stopped six inches away and just stared at her. Slowly he reached his right hand around her head and pulled it in for a long kiss.
Breaking, he looked at her again, "I missed you,"
"I missed you too. Sit and eat some breakfast." Sara instructed.
Grissom sat at the breakfast bar and started to eat the eggs. Sara sat next to him and ate quickly, still hyped up from work. She looked over at him and noticed he was very tired. He head resting on his left hand as he ate with his right.
"All right, time for bed. Let's go," she said, taking his hand.
He couldn't argue; she was right. Grissom followed her up the stairs to the master bedroom. She pulled the T-shirt over his head and settled him in bed.
"I'll join you soon. Dishes and then a shower for me." She said, before realizing he was asleep.
Sara walked back downstairs and put the dishes in the dishwasher, added the detergent and let it run. She wrote Grissom two more notes, one to check on his bugs and the other to talk to his mother who had called twice. She walked back up stairs and took off her clothes before heading for the bathroom to take a shower. Grissom started to move in his sleep talking softly while tossing and turning. Sara walked to his side of the bed and put her hands on his face, calming him instantly. She kissed his forehead and then headed for the shower. She shut the bathroom door and started the shower, waiting the few moments until it was the right temperature. She got into the shower stall and reveled in the heat and pressure of the water. Fifteen minutes later she slipped on her nightgown and got into bed. Grissom was lying on his right side, a slight sweat on his face, and the sheets at his waist. Carefully, Sara came up and spooned behind him, feeling him relax to her touch. She curved her left arm under his left to rest on his belly, folding her right arm under her head and fell asleep.
Sara woke up alone in the bed. She reached to Grissom's side of the bed and it was cold. Sighing she got out of bed and went to look for him. The living room was quiet and empty. She walked into the lab room and found Grissom hunched over his drawing board sketching. As she approached him, she heard that he was humming but it was a tune she didn't recognize. She reached to the back of his stool and softly tapped on it until he turned around.
"Hi," he said, setting his pencil down as he pivoted his stool.
"Hi, yourself. Did you sleep at all?" Sara asked as he pulled her towards him.
"An hour or two," he admitted, looking to the floor.
"What woke you?" Sara asked.
"Nightmares, about the shooting." Grissom said, specifically.
"Did you see the notes on the fridge?" Sara asked.
"Yeah, thanks, bugs are fine, I IM'd my mother. Haven't called Roger yet." Grissom said, softly.
"Sweetheart, you have to call him. I told him you'd be up after lunch. I'm going to make coffee and then you're going to call him." Sara said, kissing his forehead.
He released her turning back to his sketchbook.
"Hey, Griss?" Sara asked from the door.
"Yeah?" he said, not turning.
"Will you tell me what happened in Elko?"
"Yeah, honey, I will. I'll be there in five minutes." Grissom said, returning to his sketch.
Sara went back to the kitchen and ground coffee, deciding to make a full pot. By the time the coffee maker groaned its last noise, Grissom came out of the lab room, carrying his sketchbook. He set it carefully on the breakfast bar and accepted a mug of coffee from Sara.
"Do you want an ice cube?" she asked.
"Yes, please," he said, extending his arm back towards her.
Sara put two ice cubes in his mug and then concentrated on her own. Grissom sat on a stool and sipped his coffee. She looked at him; staring really, seeing the circles under his eyes and the twitch in his jaw. She took the number off the fridge and set it in front of him, handing him the portable phone. He sipped some more coffee and then dialed the number.
"Hello, Nuncle, it's Moss, I heard you called."
There was a silence at the other end. Grissom waited and then started to talk.
"Nuncle, are you okay?" he asked, getting off the stool to pace in the living room.
"Yes, Moss, I'm sorry. I …I went to Jim's cabin to clean up and saw your sketches. I'm overwhelmed." Roger said, softly.
"I'm glad you liked them, Nuncle." Grissom said, stopping to sip more coffee.
Sara looked at him, picking up his body language, trying to gauge his mood.
"How are you, Moss? Did you sleep this morning?" Roger asked.
"No, not really." Grissom answered.
"Moss, you must let Sara help you. You have to sleep." Roger said.
"I know, it's just….I keep dreaming and I don't know how to stop." Grissom said, sitting in the chair by the stereo, his head in his hand.
"Yes, you do. You need to talk to Sara. You need to let her in." Roger advised.
Grissom closed his eyes tightly as if fighting off a migraine.
"I have to go, Nuncle. I'll talk to you soon." Grissom whispered.
"Take care, Moss." Roger said.
"And you." Grissom replied, hanging up the phone.
Grissom stood and opened his eyes. He saw Sara looking at him compassionately from the kitchen. He walked to her, putting the phone down on the bar and pulling her into a fierce hug.
She softly rubbed circles on his back and whispered in his ear, trying to get him to relax. He was very stiff in her arms so she pulled back and looked at him, seeing the pain in his face.
"Come with me," she said, holding her hand out to him as she walked up the circular staircase. She reached the landing and turned to look at him.
"Remember, just sleep, that's all," Sara said, leading him into the bedroom.
He pulled off his t-shirt and got into bed, rolling onto his left side. Sara got into bed as well, feeling him spoon against her back.
"Sleep, sweetheart, just relax, you're safe here," Sara said, holding his right hand in both of her own.
Grissom couldn't say a thing, focusing instead on controlling his rapid breathing. He smelled her, her shampoo, her detergent, and tried to relax. She felt him, each breath, and each shudder as he tried to calm down. Finally she felt him start to loosen and finally let go. She held on as long as she could and then fell asleep herself.
Grissom woke very murky after a heavy sleep of dreams but no actual nightmares. He lay on his back, the sheets pushed to his waist, the perspiration from his dreams, drying in the air-conditioning. He looked to his right and saw Sara curled up, facing him. Her hair was fanned out on the pillow, her face quiet in a lovely dream. He rolled to look at her, engaged again by her beauty. Her nightgown was bunched up at her hips; the buttons open to her sternum, hinting at her breasts. He continued to stare and to breathe in her scent. After five minutes, he found himself touching her gently, almost chastely. He traced her jaw with the backs of his fingers, feeling the softness, watching her unconscious reaction. He followed by outlining her left ear with his fingertips, feeling its velvet softness. Sara started to awaken, murmuring in her sleep, finally awakening herself. She opened her eyes, seeing his passionate stare.
"I was hoping it wasn't a dream." She whispered.
"I don't think I'm a dream and I think you are real." He said, now resting his right hand behind her neck, gently drawing her closer to him.
"I am very real," Sara replied, reaching for him with her left hand.
He kissed her, so softly; she had to open her eyes to make sure. Sara kissed him back but he was so gentle, so cautious, that she felt he needed to continue to take the lead here. Grissom lifted himself onto his left elbow and reached now for her side pulling her carefully towards him. She responded and slid her right arm under his body, her right hand now rubbing his back in a comforting arc. He leaned in and kissed her again, slightly deeper, still reserved. She met him, measure for measure, still allowing him to be dominant but her body was beginning to reveal her feelings as she became more aroused. She wanted Grissom to move faster but recognized that today he could not. He continued to kiss her as his right hand slid to her hip. She turned towards him, trying to get him to change his rhythm but he wouldn't. He slid his hand further down her left leg till he reached the hem of her nightgown, flipped it, and then traveled up to her waist, anchoring himself again. Their kissing had become more intense, his tongue searching, hers responding. Her right hand had been busy, softly rubbing his back but she now started her left hand on a mission. She traced his side, feeling his developed lats as she continued to the waistband of his shorts. Her fingers dipped in briefly and then came back up to his side. His right hand slowly made its way to her left breast, exploring it gently. She answered by shifting her left hand to his chest, touching his right nipple, finally gauging a response, when his breathing changed. She leaned into him, their kissing continuing, pushing her breast into his hand, as he teased her nipple to a hard point. She shifted her hips, pulling her left foot up to open her legs, anticipating his next move. They stayed together at this point, she teasing his nipples, he caressing her breast until she changed the stakes. Her hand felt his abdominals as she made her way to his shorts, feeling his erection briefly. Grissom stopped for a moment as if remembering something he had forgotten. He reengaged, kissing her more emphatically before getting onto his knees. He felt for her nightgown and pulled it over her head. Looking down at Sara in the dimness of the room, he smiled as did she before he leaned down to kiss her right breast. With one hand, she ran through the grey curls on his head, encouraging him, with her other she reached for him, through his shorts. He moved down, still on his hands and knees, carefully removing her underwear. He looked at her once more, just to make sure before he started to kiss her. Starting at her navel, he continued down her body, feeling her tense up in anticipation. Both of her hands now encircled his head, running through his curls, tracing his ears in a manner that drove him mad. He moved back up to kiss her on the mouth, deeply diving his tongue into her mouth at the same time as he entered her with two fingers. Her breath caught for a moment but then latched on to his rhythm. She was so wet; it felt so right. He sped up his hand and his kissed until she broke away, needing more air.
"Griss, I'm coming," Sara said, her breast heaving.
Grissom moved his head and kissed her breast, continuing to finger her until she came. Before she had a chance to relax, he slowly inserted himself into her. She took a breath in surprise.
"You, okay?" he asked, concerned.
"Oh, yeah, you're just changing the order of things. Keep going," Sara replied.
He shifted her legs below him, as it was more comfortable for her and started his rhythm slowly. She reached for his chest and massaged it. He leaned over, putting his weight on his forearms before reaching down to her again, touching her off time to his rhythm. This was new and it drove her crazy, revving her up to another orgasm. She reached for his face and drew him in for a group of deep kisses, nipping at his tongue and cheek the closer she came. He pushed her hair from her face and looked at her intently, watching as she came. Trying to get under control, she opened her eyes and looked at him.
"Wow, that was amazing," she said, still in the throes.
Grissom smiled and started to change up his rhythm. She reached a hand between them touching his penis as he entered her, causing him to groan involuntarily. Then she reached to one of his balls and firmly started to stroke it, again feeling his body change, tighten and go faster. He came fiercely, collapsing on her, his breathing erratic, the sweat rolling off his body. She held him tightly, knowing that sometimes after such a physical response, his emotions followed quickly. He hugged her, pulling her to him, feeling the heat leave their bodies. He held her, not wanting to let go, feeling his emotions tug at him. Suddenly he pulled out and stood up, walking to the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. Sara got out of bed, her right eyebrow arched as she opened the door to the bathroom. Grissom sat on the closed toilet lid, his head in his hands.
"Hey, you okay?" Sara asked crouching in front of him.
He looked up at her, the tears holding heavy to his eyelashes. He searched her face for something and then stood up, drawing her with him. He pulled her into a tight embrace, their bodies fitting perfectly. He relaxed and kissed her passionately before breaking to walk to the shower stall, and turning on the water. He pulled his shorts off and held out his hand to her. She accepted, following him into the large shower stall. He stood under the hot stream of water and wiped his tears. As the shower had two opposing showerheads, no one was left in the cold. Sara waited patiently, warmed by the water, following his lead. He walked over to her and slowly pushed her against the shower wall. As the water fell on both of them, he opened her legs with his knee, feeling her warmth. Sara felt his energy rise and recognized that this was not going to be cautious and tried to find a voice.
"Grissom?" she asked.
He opened his eyes under the shower, totally focused on her.
"Yield to me," she stated softly.
He looked at her, unsure for a moment and then lowered his arms to his sides. She turned him pushing him back to the wall. She used her knee to open his legs, energized by his chuckle. He bent his legs slightly, so it was easier for her as she pulled his head down to kiss him. They were almost the same height when she was wearing her boots, but in bare feet, he was three inches taller. Her left hand controlled his head while her right hand stroked him to readiness. He knew the rules of yield to me. He could not initiate any contact and so arms were at his side, palms facing the marble. His eyes closed in the passion of what the rest of his body was experiencing. He wanted to touch her, hold her, anything, but that would be against the rules. She pushed her body against him, feeling his control begin to wane.
"Honey, Sara, God, please, now," He managed.
She guided him in, again setting the beat, feeling him try to keep control. She tightened her muscles around him, hearing his moans softly in her ears. His head rested on her shoulder as she guided them to his orgasm. His hands were in tight fists, the bandages on his left hand all but gone.
"Almost, come on, come on," Sara chanted, almost cheering him on.
"I'm coming, oh God, Sara, I love you so much," he said softly, trying to keep control but finally losing it.
His arms came off the marble as he came, holding onto her for stability as much as an emotional need. He was shaking as the hot water poured over the two of them. She reached up and kissed him before handing him the soap. He kissed her back and they finished the daily routine of their shower. Turning off the water, Grissom looked at the clock and smiled.
"What?" Sara asked, handing him a towel.
"It's four. I can get a nap in before work." Grissom said, honestly.
Sara looked at him and realized he did really need it. She smiled at him and toweled off before following him back to bed. He tossed the bandages from his hand in the wastepaper basket and crawled into bed. He rolled onto his stomach, his emotions still riding high. Sara pulled her underwear and nightgown out of the bed and crawled in behind him. She reached her left arm across his back. He moaned moving slightly and then stilled. She leaned over and kissed his shoulder, resting her head there, falling asleep quickly.
Sara woke up alone. She checked the clock and listened. She heard cellos coming up from the living room and thought she smelled something cooking. She got out of bed and reached for her bathrobe, noting Grissom's was missing. She walked downstairs and saw him sitting at the breakfast bar, studying his sketchbook, sipping a cup of coffee.
"Hi," she said from the bottom of the stairs.
"Hi," he said leaning back, reaching his arm out for her.
She walked to him, enveloped in his embrace and kissed him, tasting the coffee.
"Did you make dinner?" she asked.
"Yeah, I made eggplant parmesan. Are you ready for dinner?" Grissom asked, closing his sketchbook.
"I'd love some." She said, sitting down on the stool next to him.
Grissom got up easily and walked into the kitchen to serve up two bowls of eggplant parmesan. He handed on to her and put one where he was sitting.
"Something to drink?" he asked.
"Water, please," Sara said.
Grissom pulled a bottle of water from the fridge and poured it into a glass, handing it to her.
"This is great." She said, diving in for another forkful.
"My Mom's recipe, remind me to tell her you liked it," Grissom said, sitting next to her.
"I won't let you forget." Sara said.
She continued to eat, looking at him from time to time as he picked at his dinner. She knew he often didn't have an appetite but still she was concerned.
"Did you sleep this last go round?"
"About a half hour," Grissom admitted, sipping his coffee.
"What woke you?" Sara asked, continuing to eat her dinner.
Grissom looked at the food and shook his head.
"All right, it's okay. You don't have to tell me. I'm not going anywhere. When you're ready, you'll tell me. No pressure. No more questions." Sara said softly, slipping her left hand to his knee.
He covered her hand with his and squeezed it.
"I need to go into the lab early, if it's okay with you." Grissom said, looking at his almost untouched plate.
"Sure, I can be ready in fifteen. I restocked your kit. It's in your office." Sara said, sipping her water.
Grissom stood up and walked behind her. He encircled her into a tight hug and kissed her neck.
"I love you, Sara. I know I don't say it enough. I will tell you about Elko; I promise." Grissom said, and headed up the stairs to get dressed for work.
Sara smiled and shook her head as she finished her dinner. She took Grissom's plate and put his food into a small container. The rest of the casserole she put into a medium container, placing both in the fridge. She poured the rest of the coffee into Grissom's go cup, setting it on the breakfast bar. She put the dishes in the sink and then headed upstairs to get changed herself.
Grissom sat at his desk, Cellos in the Mist playing on his cd player as he tried to wade through his messages. His cell phone rang.
"Yeah, I think so."
"Mind some company?"
"Not at all," Grissom replied.
The door opened and Jim Brass walked in, carrying two cups of coffee from Starbuck's. He handed one to Grissom and set the other on the desk before walking around to see his friend. Grissom stood and opened his arms, embracing his best friend.
"I can't thank you enough," Grissom said, softly.
"Gil, it's me who can't thank you enough. Roger was in a dark place and you got him out of it. He's even talking about coming to town for a visit." Jim said, pulling back to look at him.
"He's a good man," Grissom said, sitting back in his chair.
"You don't have to tell me." Jim said, sitting opposite him.
"Have you spoken to him since I left?" Grissom asked, taking the lid off his coffee.
"No, he left me a voice mail saying thank you. I haven't had a chance to catch up with him. Is there something I should know?" Jim asked, sipping his coffee through the dribble lid.
"Yeah, I guess there is, just as he reminds me of my father, I remind him of his son, Jeremy." Grissom said, his eyebrows knit.
"His son? I didn't know, I only knew about Martha." Jim answered.
"He died of leukemia at nine." Grissom said, his face darkening, his emotions returning.
Jim watched the tide of emotions cross his face.
"Easy, Gil, I understand. I'll give him a call this morning and see if I can hang out with him next weekend." Jim said.
Grissom wiped his eyes, got his emotions under control and looked at Brass.
"So, tell me, what am I walking into in half an hour?"