40) Sometimes Unilateral Action Is Required
It was five hours into her shift and Sara was already having a horrible night. Following a long distance argument with Grissom, bad luck had followed her to work. She had dropped things, technology mocked her, suspects were unusually uncooperative and disrespectful, and now this. She sighed as she leaned against the back of the couch and glared at Hodges.
"Do I have to repeat myself?" Hodges asked with his usual arrogant air.
Tonight that air was enough to spark her anger with him. In her mind she was leaping from the couch and strangling his smug smile right off his face. In reality, she opted for a stiff lipped, "If you must."
"Hey, this is your case, Sara. I'm just doing my job."
"Yes, except you have interrupted me while doing your job nine times in two hours. I told you last week that from now on, don't bring results to me until you've completed everything so I don't have to keep going back and looking at everything a dozen times. You said okay."
"I can deliver my results as I see fit."
She stood up fast and he retreated back four steps. She shoved laptop, case files, and anything else that would fit in her backpack and walked off without a word.
"What about these results?"
"By the time you see me again you'll have all of them ready."
She was surprised he didn't shout something immature and asinine back, but she was really glad he hadn't. She let out a breath as she walked through the halls to a janitor closet. She looked around to make sure she was alone and flashed her badge at the reader by the door. Sara let herself in and walked to the back to an old wooden door. She stepped into the narrow hallway behind it and walked to a vertical ladder a few feet down. The ladder rose through holes in the floors overhead, going the attic trap door four stories overhead.
Sara slid her pack on her back and climbed. She crawled through the trap door and quietly closed it behind her, enveloping herself in darkness. The only light in the room she was in came from a very dim strip of light from under the door ten feet to her left.
Using her hands to deflect her path through forgotten, dusty boxes she navigated her way to the door and slipped into the attic hallway. In the dim light she walked to the old door of the new Wall. She fished her keys from her jeans and slid the long, narrow skeleton key in the lock. Sara turned the lock and stepped into The Wall.
She froze, staring at D.B Russell with the same expression of surprise.
He sat at the recently reupholstered poker table with a large photo album. Morgan had a friend in Los Angeles who no one believed was as talented of a scrapbooker as Morgan claimed. They should have. The returned scrapbook was amazing and she had designed it so all they had to do was add photographs for another hundred pages. It was the perfect visual history of how The Wall from its dungeon-like first day to the initial first days on the attic.
But the room had taken on a comfortable loft appearance after a month of renovations. Nick had taught them how to install installation and drywall, and hang new light fixtures. They divided the walls space and each painted their wall a different color, making the room feel like the character from the basement had found its way into the attic. Henry and his younger brother, Jason, bought new furniture, area rugs, refrigerator, microwave, and television. A night two weeks ago Jason snuck and stenciled on his wall: The Wall Crew Chronicle. He hung framed photographs of The Crew as it had changed over the years. On each frame was a brass plaque that listed the month and year and everyone in the photograph.
The last touch was changing from chalk – after a long and sometimes heated discussion – to contrasting permanent markers. Over the last month this room had been filled with stories, laughter, and the magic of the Crew being together.
But now it was filled with silence as Sara and her new, and uninvited, boss stared at each other.
"I…" Russell smiled, lost it, smiled, and lost it again. "This is awkward."
Sara stared, not realizing she was actually glaring at him.
Quietly Russell added, "I probably shouldn't be in here."
Slowly her head shook – no he shouldn't be here. This was like finding an uninvited Riddler in the Bat Cave.
"So would this be…"
Sara didn't offer any suggestions.
"The Wall?" he asked.
She kept silent.
"Conrad told me about the other old one, so I assume this is the new one."
Sara's bad day just got worse. "Conrad sent you to find the other Wall? Great! And now you'll run and tell him. You know, D.B, since you—"
"I'm not telling him, Sara. I told him that the fallout between you and the… What did he call you guys…"
Sara offered no answer.
Russell smiled. "The Wall Crew. That's right. Well, that's something this Crew and he has to work out. I won't be a part of that."
"Then why are you here? And how did you even find it?"
"Oh, well, after Conrad told me about The Wall my intrigue was piqued. I couldn't leave it alone. So I observed – I noticed the code word changed from pineapple to whirlpool." He softly chuckled. "Conrad hasn't caught onto it yet."
Sara turned a step, looking into the hall. She was debating going back to the lab and telling The Crew they'd been discovered. She didn't wholly trust that Russell wouldn't tell Ecklie about the new Wall.
"On my child's future, Sara, I give you my word that I will tell anyone about The Wall."
She looked back at him. He was watching her, waiting for a response. And she knew he would wait for as long as it took to get one.
"You are incredibly…" She hesitated, deciding which word she wanted.
His eyebrows lifted a little, but he waited.
He smiled. "Yes. I'm told that often."
She shut the door, walked over to a chair at the table, and sat down, staring hard at him.
"You cannot let them know you know about this place, D.B. If The Crew finds out you know… Look, things are volatile right now. We're all trying to find our footing after the fallout, Ecklie tried to destroy the one thing that that kept us together."
"It's not a club."
"You have members. You invite them in, you kick them out. That's a club."
"We are not a club."
"Then what do you define it as?"
"A family. And Ecklie has always been on the verge of being estranged. He just pushed the right buttons this time."
"He was doing his job."
"He was being more of an ass than usual."
Russell sat back, staring at her. She stared back.
"Are you still clocked in?"
"Shouldn't you be working?"
"That's what I came up here to do. To get away from everyone who was pissing me off and work in peace. But I guess I can't even do that here, can I?"
Russell smiled again. "Having a rough night?"
She didn't answer. That was a stupid question.
He nodded at the unspoken. "I've had a few of those. Just make sure I get those reports turned in on time."
She didn't respond again. Russell leaned forward, closing the scrapbook. He patted the leather cover, and then looked up at her.
"I guess, from your comment, you have no intention of telling the Wall Crew I know."
He nodded. "Thank you, even if it wasn't for me that you're doing this for. But I do have to wonder if I'll ever be invited."
"When we vote on it, if we vote yes."
"And when does that happen?"
"After six months and when someone brings it up."
"So I have another five months to go."
"Why six months?"
She shrugged. "How did you get in here? The door is always locked."
"It's a skeleton key lock, Sara. I have a whole box of skeleton keys at home."
She nodded. Finding skeleton keys for the crew hadn't been difficult.
Russell got up and walked over to the wall that had of rules were started on. "Conrad explained the rules for the rules. I assume these are continuing from the previous Wall?"
She nodded when he looked at her. He smiled, looking back at them.
"What…" He turned to her. "Tell me about them."
She stared at him.
"Is that not okay to ask?" he asked.
She looked at the scrapbook. She pulled it too her, flipping a couple pages. She knew he sat down in the chair next to her and was watching her, but she didn't speak right away. He waited.
Sara was surprised when a tear slid down her cheek. She hastily wiped it away.
"Do you fight with your wife?" she asked.
She liked sidelong at him. He smiled and nodded.
"Oh yes. Although the older we've gotten the further apart they've been."
She looked away when more tears came. "I miss my husband. I wish he were home."
"How long as he been gone?"
She wiped her tears and answered, "It's been eight months this time. Today we got into a fight about when I walked this dog. He's half way around the world and we're fighting over video chat about when his dog goes out."
"Oh, well, I'm sure as a dog-parent he didn't quite see it the same way as you the step-dog-parent did. I'm sure the fight will be forgotten by the next time you talk to him."
She laughed at his references. "He'll laugh when I tell him you said that."
"So will my wife. Conrad told me that the Crew believes The Wall has magical powers to heal the emotional pain and right human trespasses. And then he claimed he didn't believe that."
"He does too. He is such a jerk."
"He's a hurting human being. That makes anyone a jerk."
She looked at Russell. He was looking at the table or scrapbook – she couldn't tell which.
"I know he's your boss but you're not going to earn many points by defending him all the time."
"I'm not defending him. I'm just pointing out the root of the problem." He stood, walking to the wall again. "Now, about these rules. You have to tell me what they're about."
"Give me your word you won't use it against anyone. I'm serious. They will be angry if they know you know about The Wall before they trust you."
"I promise, Sara. What is said at The Wall stays at The Wall."
"So tell me about 437 up there."
He turned a chair so he could sit and see the rules. Sara turned in her chair to do the same.
437. I'm not allowed to use the labs computers to see if my significant other is cyber dating. (Inspired by csiFreak24) (Hodges' handwriting)
"Hodges was caught doing that," she told him.
"Hodges is dating?"
"No. There was a lab tech that used to work here that he was crazy about, but she left and he's been awkward about it since."
"Awkward about it. I like that. He's an awkward kind of guy, isn't he?"
"He has his glowing moments."
438. The following are forbidden to be used for any reason in the lab: roller blades, bicycles, skateboards, heelys, Pogo Sticks, roller skates, jump ropes, scooters, tricycles, miniature motor cycles, box cars, cleats, and ice skates. (Inspired by Augusta) (Catherine'shandwriting)
"I recognize that one. Nick and Greg were in the hall trying to prove a skateboard accident wasn't an accident, and then I caught Henry and that tech guy…" Russell snapped his fingers as he tried to remember the name.
"Yes. He and Henry were doing the same thing with bicycles. But isn't that Catherine's handwriting."
Sara smiled. With a shrug she told him, "You can take the supervisor position away from the supervisor, but you can't take the supervisor out of the woman. Trust me; those others were very much needed. We've had all sorts of crazy things happen with the other ones."
"Jump ropes and ice skates?"
"So tell me, which people are these rules usually written for?
"It's a combination, actually. Never put Nick, Greg, and Henry, or Henry and Hodges, or all of our boys, together on one case or with the same day off. There are usually calls to the Sheriff or Mayor involved."
"I've heard Nick and Greg can be a disaster together."
"There are occasions, but not every time they're together. Those other combinations are more dangerous."
Russell laughed. "I will keep that in mind."
439. "My underlings are writing it" is the wrong answer to give a supervisor when he or she asks where my report is. (Inspired by CherryBerryB) (Greg'sHandwriting)
"Greg told me that," Russell said, smiling. "And I didn't think he took me serious when I told him not to ever say that to me again."
"Greg sees and hears everything. The problem is once in a while his age kicks in."
"Ah… Aren't you two close to the same age?"
"Girls mature faster than boys." She grinned.
Russell smiled and nodded. "How forgetful of me. Of course."
440. In every organization there will always be one person who knows what is going on. This person must be fired. (Gina'shandwriting)
"Gina was very angry when Conrad fired her temp helper," Sara explained. "She said the boy learned the job in two days and was great eye candy."
Russell nodded. "I don't know Gina yet."
441. Your name is not Chuck, you do not have the Intercept uploaded to your head, your girlfriend will never be that hot, and your co-worker is not an undercover operative with a wicked trigger finger who likes bonsai trees. (Henry'sHandwriting)
"I have no idea what that's referencing, but it probably some pop culture show the lab rats all TiVo and talk about."
"You're not big on television?"
"I prefer books."
"So do I."
442. It may not be the best form to use the rural slang, "How now brown cow?" in the presence of a female African-American visiting from a large metropolis. (Greg'shandwriting)
Sara laughed. "Remember that hotel theft two weeks ago involving the couple from New York?"
"Yes. And the one was a really tall African-American."
"Well, Greg comes bouncing into the room, didn't see the two, and blurts that. This woman thought it was an insult and goes after him, chasing him into a shower with a half door. It took four officers and her girlfriend to pull her away so he could escape."
"Is that why he traded with Morgan?"
"Yes. I thought he was going to pee his pants he looked so scared."
Russell chuckled. "I guess he'll be more careful."
"This is Greg Sanders we're talking about. The only CSI to almost be strangled, shot at, beat up, and nearly had his wrist slit, all in one night. The universe has it out for him."
443. When an onlooker keeps bugging you for a picture, it is bad to show them as much skin as legally possible. (Morgan'shandwriting)
"Morgan told us it's about an incident back in Los Angeles, and she refused to elaborate beyond the incident resulted in producers calling to cast her in a porn movie."
"Oh my. I hope she doesn't try whatever it was here."
"I think it's out of her system now."
444. When the break room microwave dies, I will not use the Bunsen burners to reheat my frozen burrito or dinner. (Hodges' handwriting)
"Is, uhm… That's Hodges' handwriting, isn't it?" Russell asked.
Sara nodded. "It is."
"I know I shouldn't be, but it surprises me when I see I am listened to."
"You're the one that got after him about that? I couldn't figure out why he wrote that, since we've…" Sara stopped and smiled. "Well, we've never complained.
"You've used the Bunsen burners for your dinner too?"
She looked away, still smiling.
"Well, from what I understand, what happened to make a rule to be written cannot be repeated."
She shrugged. "But we can bend them."
Russell smiled. "I'll have to keep a close eye on this Wall Crew."
445. If your largest piece of evidence it the ugliest piece of artwork in a gallery, you can be guaranteed of three things: it is heavy, it is worth millions of dollars, and the only court judge that can be reached for a warrant will be a collector of the artist and make you sign your job away if you damage the piece. (Nick'shandwriting)
"Nick's find at that art exhibit?" Russell asked. "Is that why he became so discontent right before we moved the piece to the lab?
Sara nodded. "When he called for the warrant, it became a pretty heated conversation because the judge's wife thought this artist was just amazing. Personally, aside from the evidence we needed from the blocks of cement, it looked like junk to me too."
"Art is a very subjective topic for most people."
"You were there. Did you think it was art?"
"Well, I tell ya what… I think that it could have been. For someone."
"Was that the politically correct no?"
"Perhaps it was. This last one here. I don't recognize that handwriting."
446. If a suspect with children makes me angry, it is bad of me to feed the children a pound of sugar before releasing them back into their parent's custody. (Brass' handwriting)
"That's Jim Brass."
"Oh? He's part of this group?"
"And what happened?"
"The father was a suspect in a road rage case, and he was really ticking Brass off. So every time he went out for a breather, he'd give the kid a Mountain Dew. By the time they left, the kid had drunk eight Mountain Dew cans, was talking four hundred miles a minute, hopping everywhere, and peeing every ten minutes."
Russell laughed. "I find that quite amusing. Does Brass have children?"
"A daughter, but she's in Los Angeles and they don't speak."
"Well, then, no one can say Brass new better than to give a child that many sodas, could they?"
Sara laughed and shook her head.
Russell heaved a sigh and stood up. "Well, thank you for sharing the stories behind the rules."
"You can't come back, D.B. Not until they invite you."
"If I do, I'll make sure no one ever knows." He winked as he walked past her.
"No. I'm serious. I—"
"Be sure to get your work done while you're up here, Sara. Have a good night."
The door shut with a soft click. She held her breath, listening to his footsteps fade away. A door opened, closed, and there was silence. She smiled, looking up at the rules. She knew how she was going to vote when the Crew decided to whether D.B. Russell was going to be included.
Sara turned around, opened her laptop, and went back to work.