Title: Five People They Thought They Were Fooling
Pairing: David Hodges/Greg Sanders
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for Fannysmackin'.
Summary: Five people David Hodges and Greg Sanders thought they were fooling.
Author's Notes: This is the sequel of sorts (or companion piece, I suppose) to Blinded by the White Light (Five Ways David Hodges Didn't Freak Out).
Five People They Thought They Were Fooling
By the time Sara gets back to the crime lab, she's gotten her feelings under control. No more tears? Check. No more hitching little breaths that were actually repressed sobs? Check. No more moments of half-rage, half-despair that made her hands start shaking? Check.
She is completely in control of her emotions by the time she walks into the trace lab to give Hodges the evidence. Her control doesn't falter even at the expression on Hodges's face, because the look is too composed, too neutral. The expression is not at all like his usual ones, which are animated whether he is conveying disgust or amusement, and the look alone is enough to send alarm bells off in Sara's head.
She hadn't even thought about Hodges, hadn't really even considered him when Greg had asked in a low whisper for her to let everyone know he was going to be okay. She had thought of steeling herself to tell Nick, Warrick, Grissom, Catherine, but not Hodges.
Which had been extremely stupid of her, she realizes, as she hands over the evidence and he asks too softly, too coolly, "Is this from Greg's scene?" After all, she's a CSI. She'd noticed a few weeks earlier when the interaction between Greg and Hodges had…shifted. It had become more playful, almost intimate. Oh, they still flung constant insults at each other, but there was a softer sentiment underlying each insult.
Sara hadn't thought too deeply about it -- after all, Greg and Hodges? -- but now, looking at Hodges, noting the tension radiating off his frame that he is trying to conceal, she realizes that perhaps she should have tried to figure their relationship out. Perhaps then she would know what to do, standing here and watching Hodges's too-still features.
Should she tell him about Greg's condition, how bruised and broken he'd looked on the ground, or perhaps how he'd still tried to be a CSI despite being unable to see? But Hodges hasn't asked anything about Greg, just the evidence, and maybe he doesn't want to know. Sara just looks at him for a moment. It seems as though she's aged twenty years in the past few hours, and she thinks she could sleep a thousand years and still feel this weary. She wonders if Hodges feels this tired inside, or if he is still trapped in the adrenaline-producing grip of fear and anger.
A muscle jumps in his jaw, and she feels something twist in her chest, a sympathy pain, because she can just imagine the tension knotting his shoulders and how his jaw must be aching.
"Thank you," he says at last, and looks down at the evidence, expression going dark.
There is something she should say now, Sara thinks. Something to chase the shadows out of his eyes, to ease the tension from his frame. But if there is one thing she knows about David Hodges, it is that he despises empty platitudes.
She swallows back the inanities that rise to her lips and leaves silently, feeling a thousand unsaid words fall to the floor in her wake.
Wendy takes two, three steps at the most out of the DNA lab before Hodges is suddenly in front of her, yanking her results out of her grasp as though he has some long-established claim to them that she wasn't aware of. She cannot help but stare, even as he says, "This the results from Greg's case? I just got my trace analysis back. I'll give them both to Grissom."
She should probably do something other than blink at him, but she is too bemused to do anything save precisely that. His tone had been matter-of-fact, casual, as though he was saying something as obvious as the sky was blue or that Grissom liked bugs, but in all the time Wendy has been here, Hodges has never offered to take her results to anyone.
When she doesn't say anything, he raises an eyebrow. "Well?" His tone is calm, belying the tension she sees in his jaw and in the way he's hunching his shoulders a little. Hey, no one said only CSIs were observant.
"Okay," she says slowly, getting the feeling that she's missing something here. Or maybe Hodges is missing his sanity. And then, when a flash of something flickers across his face, too quick for her to define, but certainly an emotion she's never seen on his face before, she recalls last week, when Archie had laughed and muttered something under his breath about Hodges and Greg needing to get a room. She'd thought he was joking at the time, but….
Wendy cannot help but stare a bit incredulously after Hodges as he turns on heel and walks away. After a moment though, she retreats back into the safety of her lab. She needs time to muse about this epiphany some more, to try and puzzle out how that relationship could work, and to figure out a way to let them know she was all right with it, even if she really, really didn't get it.
Hand in hand with experience come disaster and tragedy, Grissom knows. It is a fact of life that only through pain does one truly mature. Still, that doesn't mean he has to like the fact that he had made an error in judgment and it could have cost Greg Sanders his life. He understands all too well that experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.
Everyone handles the disaster that coincides with experience differently, of course, and Grissom finds himself studying his fellow CSIs, gauging their reactions and making note of their emotional state, as is his nature. That doesn't explain why he finds himself studying David Hodges, who is definitely not a CSI and probably would scoff at being mistaken for one.
Perhaps it is because this is a side of Hodges he has never seen. For the four years he has known the man, Grissom has never seen Hodges so restrained. Usually the man is either brownnosing or letting his tongue wag with some ridiculous story no one really pays attention to, but now the trace tech is silent, expression closed off, and when he does show emotion, it is earnestness and the subdued attitude of one willing to listen to anything Grissom has to say and to help in any way he can, not to get on Grissom's good side but because this is important. It could almost be that Grissom realizes why, exactly, this is all so important to Hodges, and he is waiting to see if the other man is going to fall apart right in front of him.
"I'm not a bug," Hodges says suddenly, an odd note to his voice, and Grissom just looks at him for a long moment. Hodges's head is bowed, eyes closed, a strained expression on his face.
"I know," Grissom says at last, and watches as Hodges's hands begin to shake. He remembers the days after the lab explosion, when Greg's hands had trembled in much the same manner, and he realizes that Hodges is close to snapping.
He turns his gaze upon the map, and doesn't look up when Hodges leaves. Hodges's emotional state is intriguing, yes, but Hodges also deserves his privacy should he have a breakdown.
Grissom, meanwhile, has a crime to solve.
It's funny, Nick thinks to himself, that if someone had asked who the most jaded individual was at the Clark County Crime Lab, he would have put Sara and Hodges warring for first place, and if someone had wanted to know the most optimistic, he would have put Greg as the unchallenged king.
Now, however, he thinks Greg will no longer be quite as optimistic as before, that someone else will steal his crown, and Nick himself feels so world-weary that he suspects he has taken temporary reign as the most jaded person. He is just so sick of this city of sin, just so tired of these screwed-up individuals, just so angry that things keep happening to people he cares about.
So when he sees Bobby Dawson leaving the trace lab looking a little red-eyed, he doesn't bother asking what's wrong, because he knows all-too-well what's wrong. Greg is, well, the heart and soul of the lab, when you really think about it, and the lab feels barren without him. CSIs and technicians alike can feel the emptiness. Even Hodges--
Well, maybe especially Hodges. Over the past couple of weeks, Nick has been trying very hard not to notice (or at least to pretend to not notice) the way Greg's slapping Hodges on the shoulder has turned into a touch that lingers a bit longer than necessary, or the way that some of the trademark cynical look on Hodges's face melts away every time Greg bursts into his lab, or the way that Greg's been making vague excuses as to why he is too busy for a night out with Nick and Warrick.
His curiosity getting the better of him, he finds himself hesitating in front of the trace lab and looking inside. Hodges sits on a stool, staring blankly into space. His shoulders are slumped, and Nick is suddenly reminded of Atlas, who carried all the weight of the world on his back, because there is a weariness on Hodges's face that Nick has never seen before. He thinks he understands now, the difference between cynicism and hopelessness, and right now Hodges looks to be in the midst of despair.
However, even as Nick studies him, Hodges straightens, his eyes clearing, his mouth firming into a grim little frown, and he looks determined. Nick has no way of reading the other man's mind, but he's not an idiot. He knows that Hodges has conquered his anguish or at least bottled it up, in favor of being strong for Greg.
Nick continues to linger outside the doorway, just watching Hodges, considering that dogged expression and trying to tell himself that he should feel the same way, should be strong for his best friend rather than filled with cynicism. After a moment, he shakes his head and resumes his original walk towards the locker room, trying to ignore the voice in his head that mocks him, quietly taunting.
After all, he cannot help but be a bit pessimistic over the fact that Hodges has someone, has a person like Greg, and he, Nick Stokes, is alone.
She doesn't know who they think they're fooling. Elizabeth has been a nurse at Desert Palms for almost twenty years now, and she can tell the difference between the concern of a friend and the concern of a lover. And this man, with his dark scowl and too intent eyes and quick, irritated question of "Where is Greg Sanders' room?" was definitely in the latter category. He hadn't even thanked her, just rushed off to the room.
When she goes to check on Greg an hour later, she finds that the scowling man is still there, stroking the inside of Greg's wrist and leaning close to the bed. She hovers in the doorway, watching. The man's not scowling now, but he is wearing a look torn between amusement and irritation.
"I'm not going to be a sacrifice to your psychotic mother, Greg," he says, and rolls his eyes. "Therefore, we will wait until after she's dealt with the fact that you're a CSI before we go for the final blow and let her know we're in a relationship." He pauses. "Though I will bring some salt and sprinkle it around your bed if that will make you feel better."
"My mom's overprotective, David, not evil," comes the amused response.
The man -- David -- just raises an eyebrow and assumes an expression of utter disbelief. His thumb is still stroking up and down the insides of Greg's wrist, a lover's caress, and Elizabeth retreats, giving them their privacy. If Greg is in pain, she knows that he'll get David to press the call button.
She shakes her head as she moves onto the next room. Honestly, she doesn't know who they think they're fooling. Do they really think Greg's mother won't put two and two together as soon as she walks into the room?