Disclaimer: Please refer to the first chapter. I can't think of something new to say with each chapter. I'm just not that creative...
A/N – Words cannot appropriately express how sorry I am that it has taken me this long to update. I will not bore you with details, but I will say that there was a lot of drama on a personal front. I'm still working through some of it, but the worst of it is... well, over. I hope to get everything back on track relatively soon.
I want to express my thanks to everyone who has hung in here. I also want to thank those people who've asked about the fic and were concerned about it ever reaching finality. Also, I want to extend a round of thanks to the newcomers who've happened along after such a time without an update. I hope that the fic lives up to your expectations. And, I especially want to thank gsr4ever for prodding me to keep writing, reminding me that people were waiting, listening to me whine, grumble, and complain, and letting me bounce ideas off of her. She's a pineapple!
Not My Day
Sara stepped up to the swinging doors leading into the morgue. Bending slightly and grabbing the hem of her lab coat, she began to snap it together from the bottom up.
"Are you ready to proceed, my dear?" Grissom asked after Sara's third attempt to get the two sides of the snap to fit together failed.
A light frown of annoyance gave way to a pursed grin as she glanced up at her boss. "These things are easier to take off than put on," she grumbled.
"As are a lot of things." Grissom paused the briefest of seconds to glance down the hallway. "I would offer to help, but... unbuttoning is preferable."
A slight blush rose on Sara's cheeks as she tucked her chin to her chest in an effort to hide it. She worked to remove the smile from her face, but it was definitely winning the battle.
Sound and movement from inside the morgue caught Grissom's attention. As a hand made contact with the inside of the door to force it outward, Grissom moved quickly to pull Sara out of the way. The action was enough to get her out of harm's way of the swinging door, but not enough to keep her from getting plowed into by the newest Swing Shift CSI.
As his body came crashing through the door and subsequently into Sara, his hand flew to his mouth. His attempts to quell the reaction of his stomach after seeing the dead body on the table were for naught as he threw up all over Sara's shirt and lab coat. The grin on her face was long gone, and the blush on her face had turned redder from shock.
"God, Henson, there are places to throw up inside. Why'd you come out here?" Sara asked disgustedly. Her fingers gripped the edges of her outer garment and pulled it out to survey the extent of damage. The newest CSI mumbled an excuse, interrupted by heaves again, as he began to skitter down the hallway.
Sara looked over at Grissom, a mixture of anguish and amusement on his face. Sara swung her head around to look at David, who was holding the door open after the other occupant's hasty exit.
"I'm sorry, Sara. I didn't know you we—" David began to explain.
"It's okay, David," Sara comforted the nervous coroner's assistant. Dropping her hands to her sides, she sighed heavily. "I'm going to go change. Then, we can try this again." Turning an icy stare towards Grissom, Sara added, "Don't you dare even think of starting that DB without me."
Freshly showered and changed, Sara was on her way back to the morgue. Passing by the garage, she spied Greg's legs sticking out from under a gold Pontiac Sunfire. He appeared to be struggling with something on the undercarriage. She hesitated a moment to consider the body waiting on the table in the basement.
"Having trouble, Greg?" she asked, taking a few steps into the room.
The young CSI responded with a disgusted grunt. Sara watched as Greg's gloved fingers gripped the edge of the chassis to yank himself and the wheeled cart he was on out from under the vehicle. "Tell me why I'm doing this, again," he accused.
A frown took over Sara's face for the briefest of seconds. "You have to learn sometime."
His fingers, still gripping the rocker panel of the car pulled his upper body back under the car. "I can't learn anything if I don't know what I'm doing," he grumbled in return.
Sara grinned at his innocence and the dirt smudges on his face. "Trial and error, Greggo."
The clanging of tools on the chassis of the car caused Sara to realize that Greg might truly be in need of assistance. Again considering the body and people waiting on her, Sara sat down on the floor beside Greg's legs. Without touching the car, she laid herself down and scooted under the body of the vehicle to see what Greg was doing.
"Okay. I'm supposed to be in the morgue, but I'll give you five minutes. Tell me what you're doing and what you need to do."
Greg gave her a goofy grin of thanks and waved with a wrench towards some random spot on the underside of the car. "I need to get the gas tank off so I can check it for additional residue, foreign substances, or objects. I think the perp put something in there to cause it difficulty running." He went back to work twisting a wrench on a bolt.
Sara blinked once, twice, three times. She looked from the gas tank to the oil pan to Greg. "I'm sure that's a good theory, but it might help if you were actually working on the gas tank."
"Huh?" Greg said distractedly as he continued to work on the bolt.
"You can't drop the gas tank if you're removing the bolts that hold up the oil pan." Her amusement was making itself known in her voice.
One final twist and the proof of her words was sloshing all over Greg. The oil oozed down his neck and chest and came pooling at his sides, ultimately running into Sara's fresh clothing.
Very calmly, she twisted her head to look at Greg's dejected face. "This was my only set of clean clothes in the building. You owe me, Sanders." She thought briefly about how she could have gotten oil or gas in her eyes because she was not using protective eyewear and how her shirt was ruined with the oil because she was not wearing a smock. Overwhelmingly, however, she found herself amused by the mortified look on Greg's face.
"I know," she answered. "And, another little tidbit for you: Don't let used oil stay on your skin for a prolonged period of time. It contains elements which can be unhealthy for your skin and could also even cause cancer."
"I'll go shower and get back out here to it, I guess."
"No," Sara directed, shaking her head. "I'm going to go shower and change. You're going to clean up this mess. I'll let you know when I'm done."
"But, what about... the cancer?" he asked, acting concerned.
"Suck it up, Greg. You'll be okay for ten minutes. You'll be exposed to far more hazardous things in this line of work than that." She grinned evilly in his direction. "Like me if you ever do something like this to me, again."
Grissom leaned over the table. He maneuvered himself closer to the object of his attention than he probably should have for safety reasons. His goggles firmly in place, however, gave him a sense of security.
Normally not a place for experiments of a caustic nature, Grissom's office was the only place that had provided him uninterrupted bliss, the peace and quiet he had desired. Peering out through the slits in the blinds, Grissom wondered again if it was actually a good idea to handle the acidic compound in the less than perfect testing environment.
"Grissom," Hodges intoned slimily, interrupting Grissom's train of thought. "That report I gave you earlier... Can I have another look at it? There's something that doesn't seem quite right."
Ungrateful for the interruption, Grissom leaned over the desk and picked a file folder up from the pile on the corner of his desk. His hip touched the edge of the desk as he reached over the cement block he had been looking at. Flipping through a few papers, Grissom found what he was looking for and pulled it from the file. Handing it over to the technician, Grissom peered wearily at him over the top of the rims of his glasses.
"Thanks," the lab rat replied. He began to mumble incoherently as he perused the words on the paper in his hand.
"Do you think you could take that elsewhere? I'm busy, and I'd prefer to be alone," Grissom asked bitterly.
Hodges frowned but did as he was asked. Grissom watched the younger man walk away before turning back to his work. He eased himself down into his chair to continue looking at the experiment in the middle of his desk. He leaned back to relax for a moment while he noted the time that had elapsed in a notebook.
Moments later, Grissom leapt to his feet. His hands firmly planted on the desk steadied him as he peered at the hunk of cement he had been testing. There was a small area on one corner and edge of the block which had been wiped clean of the acid which was lying there before sinking in. Reflexively, the CSI looked down at the edge of his shirt.
Sighing, Grissom hung his head. It was no time to hesitate, but the damage to his shirt was already done. It was damp on the lower front side, right above his belt. He was quite sure that once it was washed, the destruction would be evidenced by a hole. Realizing he needed to get the clothing off before his skin was affected as well, he walked out of his office. Carefully, he closed his office door so no one else would disturb the experiment while he was away.
He unbuttoned and removed his shirt once he was safely tucked away inside the locker room. Standing there, shirtless, Grissom opened his locker door and tossed the shirt into the bottom. He removed his spare windbreaker and stared at the blank space of the locker. He knew he had hung a shirt in there a while back, but he could not remember if he had used it or took it home for washing.
Closing his eyes, Grissom resorted to calling for some assistance. He pulled his phone from his pocket and dialed a familiar number. Two rings and it was answered professionally, as if the person on the other end of the phone had company.
"I need a favor. Are you busy?"
"Hey, Grissom, Greg," Nick greeted his boss and coworker as he entered the breakroom.
Grissom looked up from the file he was reading to watch the younger CSI plop down in a chair tiredly. "Hello, Nick."
Greg continued to measure the coffee grounds to perfection before placing them in the filter to brew a pot of his finest roast. Acknowledging Nick's presence, he waved and hand and called over his shoulder, "Hi."
Catherine followed closely behind. She looked just as tired as Nick, if not more so. She remained mute and followed the Texan's lead and dropped herself into one of the chairs opposite Grissom as well. The noise caused Warrick to open his eyes and look over from his reclined position on the couch. For the first time since Grissom had entered the room, that was the first time Warrick had even moved.
"It's been a horrible shift," Nick complained, "We can't find anything to tie the boyfriend to the missing girl."
"Maybe he didn't do it, Nick," Catherine offered. "He was the most likely suspect. Hell, I liked him for it. We'll keep looking. There's always something."
"Even if he didn't do it, he knows something, and he's not talk—" Nick abruptly stopped talking as he just stared at Grissom.
As if realizing the halt in conversation related to him, Grissom glanced up. "What?"
"What in God's name are you wearing?" Catherine asked, giving voice to Nick's thought as Greg turned around and leaned against the counter to see what was happening.
Grissom looked down at his chest. After he had changed earlier, the shirt had not even crossed his mind. He had not wanted to wear it to begin with, but necessity had caused him to give in. It was a plain white men's dress shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbow and buttoned up appropriately. The shirt may have been a little large, but it was not too much of an eyesore.
"Brass' shirt," he answered simply, as if it explained everything.
"And you would be wearing it, why?" she asked, obviously curious as to why Grissom would voluntarily wear someone else's shirt.
"I was testing a theory on my case. We couldn't get an accurate TOD because of the damage the acid combined with the sun caused on the body, but I thought the acid on the concrete might be of some value in creating a timeline."
"That relates to your shirt, how?" Catherine continued to grill him, the boys on the team watching the exchange with amusement.
"I inadvertently got some acid on my shirt. I thought I had a spare in my locker, but I must've been mistaken. I had to change into something. Brass offered," he answered with finality. Grissom was through explaining his fashion choices to the people in the room.
"Not the blue shirt you were wearing earlier in the shift," Sara called out from the doorway, having arrived unnoticed by the rest of the room's occupants. Her words were a mixture of a question and a statement, a little hope thrown in for good measure.
Grissom kept his eyes trained on the folder in his hands. "Yes, that shirt." He was afraid to look her in the eye. Sara liked that shirt more than some of his others. The fact that she had bought it for him played a little more heavily on his mind than he liked.
"Speaking of fashion statements, girl," Warrick spoke, joining the conversation for the first time. "You've been wearing that lab coat all day. What gives?"
"I—" Sara, still standing in the doorway, looked down at herself self-consciously. "I... had to change earlier."
"The shirt you were wearing after your incident in the morgue looked fine," Nick assured her.
"Oh," Sara tried to decide how to continue. "I had to change again." She met Greg's gaze purposefully. She would keep the secret from the team, but she was not going to let Greg forget what happened.
"What could be so hideous that you'd want to hide it all night?" the blond CSI asked, finding the unfortunate circumstances of her coworkers entertaining.
"It's just not something I'd normally wear." She hesitated and frowned slightly at the group. "Look, it's just a shirt. Let's move on."
"Not until you show us the shirt," Warrick ordered.
"Does it have little bunnies on it? Flowers? Hearts?" Nick speculated while watching Sara's face scrunch up in disgust at each wrong guess.
"Chemical equations?" Greg added, grinning.
"That'd be your shirt, Sanders," Nick joked at his friend's expense.
"Hey!" Greg feigned offense and defended himself. "That's a perfectly good shirt."
"I've, uh, got work to do," Sara said as she turned to walk down the hallway.
"Not so fast, sunshine," Nick announced. "C'mon. Just let us see the shirt, and we'll leave you alone."
Sara twisted back around as she peered at him and pursed her lips. She was clearly considering it. After a small sigh of concession and what appeared to be careful deliberation, Sara came to a conclusion. Knowing that they would badger her until she showed them, her mind was made up. She gripped the front of the lab coat, one hand on each edge to pull the snaps apart. Like a flasher committing a crime, she gave the coat a solid tug and held the snapping edges out to her sides.
Nothing could have prepared the group for what they were seeing. Each one of them, Grissom included, just stared at her. Although no jaws dropped in shock, the confusion was apparent. Maybe they had been imagining something sultry, something revealing, something hideous, something childish, something embarrassing, but none were expecting to see a plain dark gray polo shirt. It was a designer label, but nonetheless still a regular polo shirt.
"Not exactly your size, Sara," Nick stated the obvious after seeing it hanging on her almost as loosely as the lab coat.
"Where'd you get a shirt like that?" Greg asked, digging for information.
Sara carefully kept her eyes from meeting Grissom's gaze. "Happy now, everyone?"
"Gil, that looks like the shirt I bought you to replace the one that was ruined last month when you covered my shift," Catherine accused her friend.
"Similar," the man in question responded, a slight bit of amusement in his voice.
Catherine looked upon Grissom skeptically. "I could've sworn I saw you putting it in your locker last week."
Sara rolled her eyes and let the edges of the coat go. She shook her head and spun on her heels. The lab coat hung at her sides loosely and swayed with the air as she walked down the hallway and away from the gossip she knew was likely to ensue.
To Be Continued...