Disclaimer: CSI still belongs to those who are not me.

Archive: Just let me know where.

Spoilers: A little tiny one for Bloodlines. Set early season five. Greg is still in the lab.

A/N: Responce to August 4ths Under the Bridge Improve Challenge. First and last lines given, 2000 word limit. This comes in at 1999.

The ringing of the cell phone shattered the unnatural quiet. Grissom stood perfectly still, wondering if he dared to answer the phone or not. On the one hand, moving might be enough to draw attention to him. On the other, the continued ringing might draw just as much attention. Grissom sighed, and tried to remember how he had gotten himself in this situation. The phone rang again, and he decided that it was prudent to answer it.

"Grissom," he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper.

"Hey, Griss. It's me. I'm just checking to make sure everything is going okay."

"Sara. Yeah, everything is going fine." Grissom looked around him, admitting to himself how big a lie he had spoken. Nothing was okay. The situation was, in fact, bordering on unmanageable. There was no way he was going to tell Sara that. She might worry.

"How is New Orleans?" he queried, trying to keep Sara from asking any more questions.

"Hot, humid, and overrun with drunks, most of who have the IQ lower then Ecklie's. Thanks for asking." Sara couldn't keep the ire completely out of her voice. When Grissom had recommended the Criminalistics Seminar as a chance to take a mini vacation and fulfill her continuing ed requirement at the same time, she had let herself be talked into the trip. To say that she regretted the decision was a massive understatement.

"Any chance that you are so overrun with cases that you need me to come back early?" Sara was only half joking.

"Nice try, Sara. Your not coming back into the lab for an entire week. And don't even think of trying to sneak in. I've talked to all the lab techs, and they're under orders to report to me the moment they see you." He knew Sara. Knew what she would resort to.


"Not even Greg, Sara. We've come to an understanding. He lets you work in the lab before your vacation is over, and he's never making CSI." He hadn't put it quite that way when he'd talked to Greg. None the less, his meaning was clear. Sara was in need of a break from work, and Grissom was going to make sure she got one. The last time she had taken any time off was her suspension five months ago, and that certainly didn't count.

"Fine. This is me, going to have fun. I'm on my way back to the conference so more science nerds can hit on me." If she couldn't get Grissom to let her come back, at least she could make him sweat a little.

"Have fun," he said. Wait a minute, what did she say? That was cruel.

"Bye Griss." Sara hung up the phone before he could come up with a reply. Damn. Now he was going to be stuck with the image of some weasely Hodges-type sliding up next to Sara, pestering her with bad one liners. Or even worse, a young, good looking science nerd offering to buy her a drink.

As he replaced the cell phone back in its holder, Grissom was once again aware of the unnatural quiet. Was it safe, yet, to leave the room that he had been using as a hiding place for the past half hour? There hadn't been a noise from the other side of the door since before the phone call, so maybe his unwitting jailer had left. He would never know until he tried.

Acutely aware of each squeak the hinges made, Grissom opened the door. The path from here to the front entrance seemed to be clear. Now he had to decide if stealth or speed was the better method of escape. A noise sounded from across the room, and Grissom made a snap decision. Speed. He almost made it to the door before he was attacked from behind.

"Meow." Claws sank into the back of his leg, shredding cloth and skin as they made the journey down to his foot. Grissom had to wonder if the cat was on a mission to mark every inch of his skin. What had he been thinking, to agree to watch Sara's cat while she was gone? You were thinking it was Sara asking, and there is very little you wouldn't do for her, he admitted. Very little indeed. You said no to the one thing she wants most, a small voice whispered in the back of his head. Grissom did his best to push the unwanted voice away. Fortunately, the searing pain in his leg acted as a distraction.

"I swear, Dinah. One more scratch mark and I'm leaving you to fend for yourself until Sara gets back." Dinah. No one but Sara would adopt an ill-tempered hell beast, and then give it such a benign name.

"That's one whole week. No food, no water." He was bluffing, but the cat had no way of knowing that. Maybe she believed him, or maybe she was just bored of the 'tearing Grissom to pieces' game, but Dinah didn't try to scratch him again. As quickly as he could, Grissom went around the task of tending to Sara's apartment; watering her plants, filling the cat's food and water bowls, bringing in the mail. Ten minutes of an wary truce between him and Sara's pet, and he was on his way out the door.

He came prepared this time. A stop at the pet supply store after work had yielded treasures he hoped Dinah would find more appealing then his tender flesh. As Grissom entered Sara's apartment, he carried with him a cloth mouse stuffed with catnip, a plastic ball with a bell trapped inside, and a squeaking rubber dove. All he asked was that one of the toys, or some combination of all three, would keep the cat entertained for as long as it took to complete his errand.

Strike one. Grissom threw down the mouse, but Dinah didn't move. She just perched at the end of the couch, watching Grissom with feline eyes. He tried the the ball next. Dinah didn't even look at it, focusing instead on the laces to Grissom's shoes. Her muscles were tense, and she looked ready to pounce. In vain, Grissom tossed the dove in the cat's direction, squeezing it once before he released it. She pounced. Grissom flinched in expectation, but opened his eyes when he counted to five and there was no pain.

Dinah was sitting in the middle of the rug, the white dove between her front paws. She was looking at it with an expression that Grissom had to label quizzical, and he could almost see the thoughts in her head. She knew the toy somehow made a noise, but couldn't puzzle out how.

"Let's make a deal, cat. I teach you how to use your toy, and you stop using me as a scratching post. Sound good?" He got down on all fours, lowering himself to the cat's level. Cautiously he reached out, all too aware that he was voluntarily approaching sharp claws, claws he was already too familiar with.

"The most effective method of eliciting sound from your toy is to push on the more elliptical shaped center of the dove's body, as opposed to the head or tail region." He demonstrated as he spoke, lecturing the cat in the same way he would a new CSI.

"The sound is created when air enters or exits through this hole, here. The more air you can force through, the louder the sound." He found himself experimenting with the rubber bird, try to find the perfect place to press. Absentmindedly he started petting the cat, not paying attention to the action until Dinah began purring. For thirty minutes he laid there, stroking the cat's fur, resting against the thick pile of Sara's living room carpet. It was the most restful half hour he had experienced in a long time.

Grissom had made friends with Sara's cat, and no longer had to be on guard when he was in her apartment. That was the good news. It was also the bad news. He began to feel comfortable there, spending much longer then necessary to complete the few favors she had asked of him. It was for the cat, he rationalized. Cats, though independent, were also social creatures. It had to be missing Sara. What if, the next time she tried to leave the cat went crazy because it didn't want to spend so much time alone. Sara would never take another vacation. Surly he could spare an hour each day to play with the animal. It was for a good cause.

Then came the last day of Sara's vacation. He got off a double shift and came straight to Sara's. He watered plants, collected the mail, and changed out Dinah's litter box. Needing to rest for a minute, he sat down on the couch. Dinah leaped up next to him, as was now her custom. She sat patiently next to his hand, knowing that if she waited he would start petting her. He did.

"Mrow..." Grissom snapped his eyes open at the sound, suddenly aware of the fact that he had fallen asleep. He must be more tired then he thought, if he could fall asleep that easily. Usually he had trouble sleeping anywhere but his own home.

"Mrow." Grissom looked toward the sound, aghast at the sight that met his eyes. While he had been asleep, Dinah had gotten into his briefcase. Papers were strewn around the room. That wasn't the worst part, though. He always carried around a spare container of red creeper powder, and somehow the cat had gotten it open. Sara's normally black cat was now a florescent red color. A trail of paw prints was visible all over the carpet. Grissom hoped he could clean it up. He'd never actually tried getting fingerprint powder out of a carpet before.

First things first. He needed to wash the cat. The bathtub was too big, the bathroom sink too small. He would have used the kitchen sink, except Sara had told him that it was broken. A plumber was coming next week. Digging through cabinets, Grissom found a large punch bowl that he decided would work as a temporary cat tub. He filled it with water, and added a little shampoo. Grabbing the rubber dove that was laying on the couch, he squeezed it to get Dinah's attention. When she got close enough, Grissom scooped her up and placed her in the bowl.

"Damn it, Dinah." An entire week since she had scratched him, but now his hands both bore angry red marks. As quickly as he could he finished the bath. Now that the cat was clean, Grissom turned his attention to the rest of the room. Picking up the papers only took a few minutes, as did sweeping the powder from the wood floor. Getting the powder out of the carpet was proving to be much harder. He was down on his hands and knees, scrubbing with a sponge, when the front door opened.

"Everything's going fine, I believe you said."

"Sara." Grissom looked up, surprised to find that he wasn't alone in the room. "I thought your weren't due back until tomorrow."

"Don't worry, I didn't skip out on the seminar. One of the speakers didn't show, so it ended a day early." Sara set down her bag, and moved to sit beside Grissom on the floor. "Is there a reason behind the red stain on my floor?"

"I, uh, Dinah..." Sara lost track of whatever he was saying. She was distracted by the red smudge on Grissom's cheek. Giving in to the urge, she reached up and whipped her finger against the smear, cleaning it away. Grissom looked at her in confusion.

"Dust," she explained, "from the powder."


They stared at each other for long moments, neither one moving. Behind them, Dinah meowed and a lone dove floated in the punch bowl.