AN: A little fic that came to me after watching a rerun of The Good, The Bad, and The Dominatrix.
Disclaimer: I do not own CSI.
The Evidence SeparatingA Gruff Detective andA Reticent Scientist
"Okay, come on, Jim, I know you know something about Grissom and Lady Heather," Catherine prodded, turning to look at her stoic companion.
"I know something a lot juicier than Grissom and Lady Heather…" Brass replied in almost a singsong voice. Catherine looked across at him, intrigued. Before Brass could elaborate or Catherine could try to pry the information out of the surly detective, they saw the body that lay in front of the saloon.
Catherine Willows sighed as she flopped back into "the CSI booth" at the diner and ordered a coffee. She rubbed her forehead as she looked down at the menu on the table, trying to decide if she wanted pancakes or not.
"Better make that two," a familiar voice told the waitress before she left Catherine alone.
"Coming right up, sir," the waitress said, leaving Jim Brass to slide in the seat across from Catherine.
"Hell of a case, eh?" Brass asked, breaking the silence. Catherine looked up at him and gave him a weary smile.
"You can say that again," she said, "Although any case involving Lady Heather is sure to be eventful," she commented, taking an immediate sip of her coffee when the waitress set it in front of her, "Do you know if she's okay? I still can't believe that Heather of all people was contemplating suicide."
"I think our resident entomologist is on top of that," Brass replied. Catherine raised an eyebrow, which prompted Brass to explain, "I did some digging and found out that Grissom did some digging of his own, specifically about Heather's custody battle with her ex over their granddaughter. I'd say he's probably inserted himself into the situation. I mean, he did stay with her all night last night."
"Don't even get me started about that," she said, "I'm still divided on where I stand with that issue."
"Oh?" Brass asked, chuckling over his cup.
"On the one hand, I'm kind of glad he was at her place taking care of her because God knows she needed a friend. And it looks like he's finally working on his people skills, which has been a long time coming. But on the other hand, he's given me lecture after lecture about personal stuff slopping over into a case, and when he does it, it's off limits. When did he get to be all hypocritical? I thought I knew him," she vented, leaning back and observing Brass carefully as he answered.
"Believe me, you don't know him as well as you think you do," he said cryptically. She looked at him with the same intrigued look that she had worn when he had said he knew something juicier than Grissom and Lady Heather.
"For all the years I've known him, I always thought I knew him quite well," Catherine replied, ready to go fishing, "I mean, it's not like he's forthright about his relationships or anything, but no man is an island. It's good for him to find someone out of work. I could see him with Heather."
"Oh, believe me, it's not Heather," Jim snorted. Catherine leaned forwards. Jim realized his folly.
"Who, then?" she asked, now knowing that he had explicit information.
"Cath, it's not my place to tell," he said.
"Humour me, Jim," she pleaded. He shook his head.
"I'm surprised you haven't figured it out yet," he said softly. Her beautiful features morphed into a look of concentration. It was the same look that she wore whenever she analyzed a crime scene. Jim knew that it would be only a matter of time before she cracked this case.
"You're saying I know her?" she questioned him, "And that her relationship with him is juicier than Grissom and Heather?"
"Yes," Brass answered, watching her carefully. She bit her lip. There were two possibilities. Sara or Sofia. She knew for a fact that Sofia was dating an ad exec. That left Sara. Catherine had always known that Sara had a bit of a crush on her boss. The whole lab knew about Sara's little crush. But Catherine was sure that Grissom would never start anything with the younger CSI. For one thing, he would never do anything to compromise his integrity. He was always lecturing her about the integrity of the lab. Not to mention the fact that he was practically married to his job. And she knew that Sara wasn't his type. Lady Heather on the other hand…
But despite these facts, she had noticed the changes in Grissom, and in Sara for that matter. They both left work on time. Grissom had lost weight, shaved his beard, and was eating differently. Sara was wearing more make-up, dressing a little nicer, and had a smug smile on her face whenever she walked through the lab. When Grissom went away on sabbatical, Sara sulked through the whole month. And, Catherine had noticed that he never had time for the rest of them. Grissom, Nick, Warrick, and Greg used to have the occasional drink or one of them would always be in Grissom's office, discussing something. They never did that anymore. Grissom was always gone before they were. And Catherine couldn't even remember the last time she and Grissom had breakfast. They used to go out for breakfast after most cases or one of them would invite the other one over for a drink. Now they were lucky if they even saw each other twice during the week. It was these facts, this circumstantial evidence, that cause Catherine to suspect something before her conversation with Brass. That was why she went on that fishing expedition with Sara when they were in the saloon together. She hadn't had enough time then to evaluate Sara's responses, but now, looking at the evidence, how Sara had tried to change the subject when Grissom's relationships with Lady Heather and Teri Miller were brought up, how Sara seemed so much more absorbed than usual in the crime scene, and how awkward it was whenever Sara and Grissom were in the same room on the case, Catherine came to an unsettling conclusion.
"Well?" Brass asked when he saw her features relax, like they usually did when she solved the case.
"I have a hunch, but until I have hard evidence, I'm reserving judgement," she replied, evading reality for the time being. She just didn't want to believe it.
"Spoken like a true CSI," Brass said, holding his cup to her in a mock-toast, but he knew that the lucid crime scene investigator had already figured out what Grissom and Sara thought nobody could.
It was a week or two later when Catherine stood outside the hospital, leaning against a pillar and looking out into the parking lot with a vacant expression on her face. Brass walked up to her and placed a gentle hand on her shoulder.
"Found that hard evidence, huh?" he asked gently. She sighed.
"You were right, Jim. After twenty years of knowing him, I really don't know him as well as I thought I did," she said sadly.
"That's what I thought when I found out," Brass said sympathetically, "I was walking to my car one day and I saw them and…well…then you said the thing about Lady Heather and Gil and…"
"Was that your own male way of saying you needed someone to talk to?" she asked, mustering a smile.
"I figured that it ought to be you if I told anyone. I mean, the two of us, we've known him the longest and…well…we were both duped by our best friend," he offered his hasty explanation for attempting to gossip.
"Thanks, Jim," she said appreciatively, "It's nice knowing that there's still someone I know I can count on."
It was funny, Catherine mused. She had known Gil and Jim for about the same amount of time, yet she had spent most of those years trying to get to know Gil. Time obviously well spent, she thought wryly. She knew more about Jim's character from one conversation than she knew about Gil's from a lifetime of rare little moments together.
She had gathered her evidence about the two men and it was time for her to come to a conclusion about her friendships with both the gruff detective and the reticent scientist.
And right now, as she stood outside, taking in the sights of the city, Catherine Willows decided that she preferred the company of the man standing next to her to the company of the man who was sitting next to Sara's bed inside the hospital.