The Case of the Curious Cat

Catherine's impromptu investigation into the beginnings of Grissom and Sara's relationship leads to some interesting revelations at the lab.

Post Episode 812 "Grissom's Divine Comedy," circa April 2008.

ooooooo

When Nick Stokes and Warrick Brown entered the break room mid shift to pour themselves much needed cups of coffee, they were surprised to find Catherine Willows sitting amongst a pile of open files looking frankly more than a little lost.

"Didn't we already close that case?" Nick asked, peering over her shoulder in curiosity as he deftly handed Warrick the coffee pot.

"What?" she asked, both taken aback and as seemingly startled as if she had only just noticed them come in.

"The whole Morton Case," he proffered, gesturing to the case files.

"We did," she replied, feigning nonchalance, but failing.

Nick took a seat across from her and said, "Then why do you look so perplexed?"

"I would have gone with annoyed, but yeah," Warrick added, sitting down next to her.

She seemed to consider this a while before saying, "Would you two consider me to be a good criminalist?"

"Yeah," they both readily replied.

"And yourselves?"

Warrick gave Nick a rather baffled look before saying, "Yeah. Why?"

Catherine snapped the folders in front of her shut. "Then explain how you and I and all the rest of us could have missed the obvious."

Nick shook his head. "I'm not following you."

"Me either," Warrick agreed, putting down his cup.

"Grissom and Sara," she supplied.

"Catherine, are you sure you're feeling okay?" Nick asked suddenly sounding more concerned than confused. "Because you aren't making any sense."

She took a deep breath before saying to both of them, "Either of you ever been to Grissom's new place?"

"When did he get a new place?" said Nick.

"Your guess is as good as mine," she sighed.

"And the point being..." Warrick prompted.

"Well, you do remember his old place?" she began.

"Yeah, it was rather... bland," Nick offered after a moment.

"I think sterile is the word you were looking for there," Warrick suggested.

"He has plants," Catherine supplied, as if that answered everything.

"So?"

"Living things," she maintained with a strange forceful sort of insistence that didn't seem to impress either of her colleagues. "I mean living things besides his bugs. Sure, there are still dead things, but he's got a dog and plants and soup cooking in the kitchen."

"Grissom cooks?" Warrick asked.

"Old family recipes and all... I mean the whole place, it looks..."

"Homey?" Nick suggested.

"Come on, Cat, you're reaching," Warrick chuckled dismissively.

"What about the rugs on the floor and art and real furniture and photographs?"

"Photographs? Admit it, you were snooping," Nick teased.

"I wasn't snooping. I was investigating," she quickly qualified. "And he said I could."

"Of course Grissom did," Nick smirked.

She ignored this comment.

"As long as I took Hank..."

"Hank?" Both Warrick and Nick echoed.

"The dog." Sensing their next question, she said, "Don't ask... No idea... He just wanted me to take him out for a bathroom break."

"You mean he caught you red handed," Nick grinned.

"Not quite. Look, it's not like I rifled through the man's drawers," Catherine replied.

"And?" Nick prompted when it seemed like she wasn't going to offer anything further.

"There was a picture of the two of them on his fridge," she finally said.

"Why is that so strange?"

"From San Francisco, Nick."

"So?" He asked, still not getting it.

"Before he grew the beard and got glasses," she added. "Like from before Sara came to Vegas."

"He told us he knew her from back then," Warrick supplied serenely.

"Let's just say I think Gil Grissom has a guilty little secret."

"Grissom? Yeah, right," Warrick scoffed.

Nick, however, seemed to think there might be something in what she said. "Did you ask him about it?" he asked.

"Yeah, got the typical Grissom response," Catherine answered.

"Quick change of subject and a mad dash from the room?" Nick suggested.

She nodded. "Exactly."

"Now that does sound like Grissom," Warrick agreed.

"Except he had that look..." Catherine continued thoughtfully.

"Look?"

"Like the cat who ate the canary."

"Guilty," Nick said as both men smirked.

"Unabashedly so," she replied. "I think he was grinning as he left."

Their amusement turned to surprise. There was more rue in his voice than anything when Nick said, "I didn't know he could even make that face anymore."

"Which begs the question," Catherine continued, "have we really been that blind?"

"You can't honestly think they've been carrying on that long," Warrick maintained.

"I doubt it. I mean if they had been why would she have been seeing Hank?" Catherine asked.

"Lover's quarrel?" Nick suggested.

"All I know is that was a disaster," she replied with a shake of the head. Then as if something had finally struck her she said, "Whatever happened to Hank anyway? I don't remember ever seeing him after I told you two…"

It was Nick's turn to look guilty, but Warrick didn't when he said, "Let's just say we had a little chat, just the three of us."

Catherine's eyes went wide. "You didn't. Did Sara know?"

"I doubt it," Nick replied.

"And then there was Lady Heather and all those months with the two of them attempting to avoid each other at all costs," she continued, still sounding puzzled. "But then things seemed to get better after a while. I just assumed they had gotten over or past whatever it was."

"Apparently not," Warrick shrugged.

"No, apparently not," she agreed, but then she turned her gaze to Nick. "You suspected something," she said.

"What do you mean?"

"Before he went off on that sabbatical, you told me you thought Grissom had a girlfriend."

"Yeah, but I certainly wasn't thinking about Sara when I said it," Nick answered. "What about you?" he asked Warrick. "What do you know about Grissom and Sara?"

"Nothing," Warrick replied.

"Nothing?" Catherine looked and sounded incredulous.

"Look, I was pretty sure Sara had feelings for him at one point," Warrick began. "But how Grissom felt, no clue. I gave up trying to figure the man out a long time ago. I mean who knows what he's thinking, let alone feeling."

"Greg knew." Nick supplied.

"What?" Catherine asked.

Nick nodded. "Yeah, I asked him."

"And?"

"He just said he knew," Nick answered. "But I wouldn't ask him about it right now."

"He still sore at Grissom?" Warrick asked.

"Still?" Nick repeated as if this were some gross understatement. "Yeah."

Jim Brass gave a friendly knock on the door. "Sorry to break up the party, guys. We got a DB over in Spring Valley, suspicious circs."

As she reached for call slip he was extending, Catherine gave Brass a penetrating look before saying, "Jim, you had to know something."

"About?" he asked.

"Grissom and Sara."

Brass shrugged noncommittally.

"Wait a minute," Catherine said. "That was what was something a whole lot juicier than Grissom and Lady Heather. You've been holding out on us."

At this, the captain smiled, rather pleased with himself. "I did use to head the department you know," he replied.

"How long did you know?" Nick asked.

"For sure? A few months before you all did," he answered.

"And what made you so sure?" Catherine persisted.

"Sara answered his cell." When they all looked at him as if this didn't explain anything, he added, "She tried to pass it off as having accidentally picked up his at the office by mistake."

"And she thought you would buy that excuse?"

"In her defense, it sounded like I had just woken her up," Brass offered. "So when I called her phone to reach Grissom and he sounded pretty sleepy, too, I knew for sure."

"Well, she did have closet privileges," Catherine said absently.

"I thought you said you didn't snoop," Nick reminded her.

"It was his coat closet," she replied dismissively.

"Right, remind me not to invite you to my place," Warrick sighed.

"What, you got something to hide?" Catherine asked.

Warrick's phone gave an insistent jingle. He popped it open to read the text message. "I gotta go. My prints are in."

Brass followed him out the door, pausing to tell Catherine and Nick as he went, "I'll catch you two out front."

They nodded and Nick began helping Catherine straighten up the files on the table. They were both startled by a voice behind them.

"You guys are way off."

They turned to see Hodges lurking in the doorway. "Excuse me?" Catherine queried.

"You guys were talking about Grissom and Sara, right?" But before either of them could answer, he said again, "You're way off..."

"Like you know, Hodges," Nick said dismissively.

"Fine, don't believe me."

Catherine rolled her eyes. "Okay, Hodges, what do you know?" she asked.

He gave them a smug grin. "You know a gentleman never tells."

"Yeah, but we're asking you." Nick replied.

"You never noticed how they were working together a lot more than usual?" He asked.

Catherine shook her head in exasperation, "Is that all you've got?"

Hodges seemingly ignoring the hostile commentary, said blithely. "Or the fact that the two of them would stand just a little too close to each other all the time?"

"No," Nick admitted.

"You've never caught them flirting with each other?"

"Grissom flirts?" Nick asked.

"Maybe when Sara first came perhaps," Catherine replied. "But lately, no."

"And you call yourselves investigators," Hodges harrumphed.

"Still not impressed," Catherine scoffed.

As if he had been holding onto this one nugget of information only to further highlight its value, he finally said, "Well, I could have sworn that when he got back from Massachusetts he was practically chasing her down the hall."

Catherine pursed her lips in frustration. "You know what, Hodges," she said. "I don't think we give you enough work to do."

"Multitasking is a science," he countered.

"Right," Nick sighed in annoyance.

"Fine, don't believe me," Hodges shrugged. "But it must have been some relationship."

"How do you figure that?"

"Well, if that kiss I saw before Sara left was a kiss good-bye, I'm fairly sure the ones hello were pretty..."

"Out, Hodges," Catherine barked irritably.

ooooooo

Catherine was snapping locator shots while Nick was collecting trace, when she turned to him and said, "So Greg, Hodges and Brass all knew and didn't say anything. Who else do you think knew?"

"I did," David Phillips offered from behind them as he clicked his own case closed.

They both spun to face him.

"You knew?" Catherine said aghast.

David nodded. "Yeah," he answered simply.

When they continued to look disbelieving, he said, "You CSI guys all seem to think that since I'm not one of you, I am invisible and that I don't notice anything. The body's all yours," he added, going to rise. But before he had gotten far, he paused and said, "It was sweet actually. Sometimes he would call her 'dear' when he didn't think anyone else was around."

"Dear?" Catherine repeated.

"This is Grissom you're talking about, right?" Nick asked, dumbfounded.

David nodded.

"And you didn't say anything because?" Catherine prompted.

"I thought you guys knew," David further explained.

"Obviously not," Nick replied testily.

"That's it," Catherine hissed in exasperation. "I'm going to talk to Grissom."

While Nick seemed to harbor little hope that that particular course of action would be all that profitable, he told her, "Good luck getting anything out of him."

But Catherine was as resolute as he had ever seen her as she firmly insisted, "Oh, this time I'm not leaving his office until I get some real answers."

ooooooo

Catherine strode into Grissom's office a few hours later. "You look better. Or at least better than death warmed over," she said without waiting for him to acknowledge her presence.

Grissom didn't bother to look up. "Why thank you, Catherine," he said absently.

"Sound better, too," she said, closing the door behind her.

"Is there something I can do for you?" he asked only briefly glancing up at her, his reading glasses perched precariously on the tip of his nose.

"Actually, yes. We need to talk."

If she wasn't mistaken, there was the hint of a smile on his lips when he asked, "So how did your investigation turn out?"

This caught Catherine off guard. "What investigation?" she stammered.

He gave her one of his patented eyebrow raises before returning his gaze to the pile of reports on his desk.

"What, do you have this place bugged or something?" she demanded.

Grissom shook his head. "No."

"We're just that predictable?" she queried.

"No, you're just that tenacious," he replied.

Catherine shot him a dirty look as she crossed her arms severely. "You really haven't been some lonely workaholic all these years, have you?"

He gave her a smile not much different than the one he had in his apartment and answered, "No."

"Since when?"

"Why don't you tell me?" He asked, slipping off his spectacles and giving her his full attention.

She shook her head in exasperation, "Since when are you into gossip, Gil?"

"Call it a matter of scientific curiosity," he replied. "Did you discover anything conclusive?"

"You know eye witnesses."

"Not that reliable?"

She nodded. "Thought I'd better go to the source. But of course you never did answer my question," Catherine said.

"You might have to refresh my memory as to which question that was," Grissom countered.

Catherine leaned forward. "You know exactly what question I am talking about. I'm not leaving this office until I get some answers."

"You're welcome to stay as long as you like," he answered blithely. "When shift's over, just make sure to turn off the lights and close the door."

"Don't play stupid, Gil. It doesn't suit you," she scolded. "About you and Sara."

At that, he simply smiled and Catherine almost gaped at him in disbelief.

"And?" he asked.

"What do you mean 'And?'"

"I'm still waiting for your question," he said.

"Question? Question? Try questions," she countered, her frustration rising.

"Well, you said you had a question. So why don't we start with that."

"How long have you and Sara been together?"

That enigmatic grin was back again, the one that was knowing, but not telling; plainly guilty but plainly without remorse.

"A while," he replied.

"A while?" she echoed agog.

"You ask a vague question, you get a vague answer," Grissom supplied.

She leaned in and putting both hands on his desk said, "So what question should I be asking then?"

"The one that tells you what you really want to know."

She seemed to be considering this for a while before settling on, "How did it happen?"

"How did what happen?"

"Good God, Gil, I really am going to sit here until you tell me how you went from having your head up your ass and doing absolutely nothing to..."

"To what?" he interjected.

"To whatever the hell relationship the two of you have been having for only god knows how long without speaking a word of it to anyone. Is that specific enough for you?" she demanded.

To which he didn't even blink or hesitate to reply, "Actually, I believe we have you and Conrad to thank for that," he said.

But before Catherine could ask for further clarification, Grissom's phone buzzed. He picked it up and she listened to him take down the details on yet another case before he wordlessly got to his feet and moved towards the door.

"Was there something else you wanted, Catherine?" he asked, pulling on his jacket.

Besides some real answers, she was tempted to reply, but she knew better than to push Grissom when he had that they had work to do look.

So she simply sighed and shook her head, thinking as she did so, there would be ample time to corner him later.