20 – Shh, It Happens

Written by kadhmercer, story by kadhmercer and fcmercer

When an already odious investigation goes seriously wrong for Grissom, the entire team endeavors to stand behind him, just not too close.

Except for Sara, who through the application of a little laughter and hint of naughtiness attempts to help him get past a very crappy day.

Post season six, circa July 2006

*******

As was not uncommon, the start of shift found Greg and Sara in the break room waiting for Grissom and the evening’s assignments. Greg was in the process of inhaling a cup of spicy chicken noodles while Sara was idly thumbing through an edition of The Journal of Forensic Sciences and wondering which was more gut-churning, Greg’s dinner or the article on “Soft Tissue Change in an Aquatic Context.” Characteristically, Greg seemed absolutely oblivious.

His attempt to strike up a friendly conversation didn’t help to settle her stomach, especially when he followed, “So I see you managed to get an entire weekend off,” with “Who’d you have to sleep with to score that one?”

Sara rolled her eyes and shook her head in exasperation, at first thinking it better not to rise to the bait, but then she decided that a little chain yanking at Greg’s expense was in order.

“You didn’t notice that great big smile Ecklie’s been wearing lately?” she asked.

Greg choked on a mouthful of noodles. “You and Ecklie?” he spluttered and dropped his fork. “I think I just lost my appetite.” For extra emphasis he pushed his chair back away from the table.

She thought, Serves you right, but merely smiled blithely and said, “You’re welcome.”

He tossed the remains of his meal into the trash. “Got any big plans then?” he asked. “Or are you going to show up here at two in the morning because you are bored and have nothing else better to do?”

“I have better things to do, thanks,” she countered, returning her interest to her magazine.

“Plans?” Greg stammered incredulously. “Sara Sidle has plans?”

Without looking up, she said, “Yes, Greg, I do.”

“Well, wonders never cease… So another hot date?”

She pursed her lips, but made no reply.

“No comment?” he queried.

Sara peered up at him, “I’m spending it with my best friend if you must know,” she explained.

“I wish you would have told me beforehand –”

“Don’t flatter yourself.”

He feigned a hurt look.

“Anyone I know?” he asked.

“Just someone I met in San Francisco –”

“Does she have a friend?”

“No, he doesn’t.”

He?”

There was a discrete cough and Grissom entered all-businesslike, assignment slips in hand.

“Catherine, Nick and Warrick are already covering a murder-suicide in Pahrump,” he said, without greeting or preamble. “Sara,” he said, handing her a slip. “Convenience store robbery over on Flamingo. Grab and go. 1200 in cash. Ski masks, but no gloves.”

Sara shook her head. “Some people are just begging to get caught,” she replied increduously.

Grissom turned to the younger man. “Greg, you’re with me tonight. DB in Henderson.”

“Cool,” Greg rejoined and shot Sara a smug grin.

“I wouldn’t get too excited if I were you,” Grissom cautioned, handing him the assignment slip.

Greg’s face fell as he scanned it.

“The DB is in a septic tank?” he queried, suddenly looking a little green.

“Not just in any septic tank. An active septic tank,” Grissom corrected. “So you’ll want to bring your waders.”

Sara had to fight back a smirk as she attempted to look sympathetic. “Sounds like the perfect assignment for you, Greg,” she began. “You always were full of…” She stopped at the don’t go there glare Grissom was giving her and said instead, “Energy.”

As Greg walked out, he lamented to no one in particular, “How come I always get the crappy assignments?”

Grissom and Sara shared a conspiratorial smile at this.

As she was gathering up her things to go, Grissom passed behind her, ostensibly to pour himself a cup of coffee. Instead, he leaned in and asked casually, “Plans?”

“Plans?” she echoed, turning slightly towards him, not sure how much of her conversation with Greg he had overheard.

“Saturday,” he supplied. “I thought if you didn’t have any plans…”

Looking sorely apologetic, she reluctantly replied, “I do actually.”

He in turn, looked slightly crestfallen. While he hadn’t settled on any specific plans, Grissom had been quite looking forward to spending one of those rare days when they both had off with Sara.

He tried to hurriedly hide his disappointment and failed.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“No problem,” he replied as casually as he could muster at that moment, one that suddenly seemed a lot more awkward between them than he was used to as of late. When Greg returned, gear in hand, Grissom was honestly and incredibly relieved.

He barely registered Sara’s calling of “Have fun.”

*******

Several hours later, Nick and Catherine were busy examining blood splatter on a leather jacket in one of the layout rooms when Grissom passed by on his way to the locker room.

They didn’t so much see him as smell him.

Wrinkling up her nose, Catherine gave Nick a questioning glance. Nick for his part shrugged. She gestured for him to follow her.

The two of them nearly ran into a very dejected looking Greg.

Don’t ask, he mouthed, trailing behind his boss with the slumped shoulders and reluctant gait of the horribly guilty and desperately penitent.

Under the cover of Grissom irritably throwing open his locker and rooting about for clean clothes, Catherine leaned in and whispered, “Greg, how and or why is Grissom all wet?”

“I sprayed him with the hose,” he replied. When she continued to look baffled, he added, “The alternative was much worse.”

“Which was…” she prompted.

Nick chimed in, “Come on you can’t just leave us hanging.”

“Well, let’s just say the shit hit the fan — literally.”

“Huh?”

Grissom slammed his locker shut.

“Go ahead and tell them, Greg,” he hissed.

Greg gulped nervously before beginning. “We had a call out in Henderson. DB in an active septic tank. The owners of the property had called a plumber about having issues with sewage backing up into their yard. The plumber thought it was just a clogged filter until he brought in the ultrasound machine and found a body blocking the intake valve.”

“Which explains what you both were doing there, but not how Grissom ended up covered in…”

“When I went to open it, it was stuck,” Greg hurriedly cut Catherine off. “You know vacuumed sealed pretty tight because of the all anaerobic bacteria activity, so that when it finally opened…”

“Think 1980’s bumper sticker,” Grissom supplied crossly.

They looked puzzled.

Shit happens?” Sara intoned from behind them.

Catherine couldn’t help it and snickered; Nick tried to keep a straight face, while Greg looked sheepish. Sara simply smiled; Grissom looked murderous.

It was then that Greg realized how much of an understatement the words You are in deep shit could really be and slunk away accordingly, Catherine and Nick following him out in order to hear the rest of the story.

Sara’s voice was more amused than conciliatory when she said as she stepped further into the locker room, “I’m sure Greg didn’t mean to do it.”

“Right,” Grissom grumbled, pulling a clean towel from off a shelf and putting it down on the bench. “The lack of intent doesn’t change the end result.”

“Could be worse,” she countered, taking down several red biohazard bags. “Two month old decomp in a duffle bag.”

This didn’t seem to amuse or appease him. “I will try and keep that in mind when I still smell two days later,” he answered petulantly.

Sensing her attempt to get him to see the brighter side of situation was failing miserably, Sara tried a different tact. “Got any lemons?”

“That only works on liquefying fat.”

“Tomato Juice?”

“Just with skunks.”

“So how do you get rid of the smell?” she asked, genuinely curious.

“I think I can help with that,” Hodges chimed from the doorway. “I heard about your little incident.”

“Incident?” Grissom queried, his annoyance quickly moving beyond irritation at this point. “Three Mile Island was an incident. Chernobyl was an incident,” he stammered angrily. “This… This was…”

Sara hurriedly moved to intervene. “Didn’t you say something about being able to help?” she asked.

Hodges handed over a print out headed with a banner that read:

AntiIckyPoo

Your Source for Anti-Icky-Poo and More!

We solve your odor problems!

“They do have expedited delivery,” Hodges added as Sara leaned over Grissom’s shoulder to examine the paper.

After a moment, Grissom looked up. “Do you like your job, Hodges?”

“Most of the time,” he answered. “I mean there are always things that…”

“Then get out,” Grissom interjected irritably. He crumbled the paper up into a ball and tossed it testily into the trash.

“He was just trying to be helpful,” Sara said, giving him a placatory smile.

“You call that being helpful?” he demanded.

Sara shrugged. “For Hodges, yeah.” She gestured for him to remove his jacket. “Grissom, you do realize that you have Greg scared well sh–”

He glared.

“To death,” she finished.

“Good,” he growled.

Sara peered around to see if anyone was nearby, before she took a step closer. She reached out to put an admonitory hand on his arm before she thought better of the gesture and said, “You aren’t going to give Greg another month-long stint of dumpster duty?”

“Another?” he queried.

“Like last year.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” he replied, shrugging off his sodden jacket.

“Steroid using narcissist,” Sara reminded him. “Mucormycosis. Rhizopus Oryzae in the walls.”

He shook his head and reached for the plastic bag in her hands; Sara jerked it away.

“Doc Robbins called in hazmat to clear the scene,” she continued.

While he still looked vaguely clueless, Sara didn’t buy it.

“Me. Greg. Shower. Naked. That refresh your memory?”

“Sorry, no,” he answered, reaching again for the bag.

“So, it was just a coincidence that Greg somehow got every trash run, dumpster duty and disgusting call for the next month?”

He made no reply to this.

“Weren’t you the one who told me that there was no such thing as coincidences?” she asked, finally acquiescing and holding the bag open for him.

Grissom shucked off his shoes and socks, placing them, too, into the biohazard bag.

“Sometimes being a CSI means dealing with bugs, worms, waste or worse,” he began mechanically.

“Yeah, the guys told me about that particular lecture,” Sara granted. “But every call?”

He met her eyes this time. She was pleased to see that the frustration had given way to sense or at least some semblance of his usual composed self. “Would you rather I had given them to you?” he asked.

She grimaced and frowned. “No. But still. Promise.”

“Promise what?”

“No penance.”

“Not even a little?” he asked, the faintest hint of a guilty grin twitching at the corners of his mouth.

“Do you like sleeping on the couch, Gilbert?” She inquired, intentionally echoing the same sort of question that Grissom had just posed to Hodges.

“Not really,” he replied.

“Then play nice,” she insisted.

“Yes, dear.”

*******

After his third shower of the day, Grissom was finally beginning to feel himself again. He shut off the tap and began to dry himself off, thankful once again that his new place had come with an industrial grade water heater. When he went to reach for the bathrobe that he usually kept on a peg on the back of the bathroom door and found it missing, he simply pulled a dry bath sheet from under the counter and wrapped it around his waist while he proceeded to towel off his hair, absentmindedly singing along with “Largo al factotum” from the Barber of Seville he had playing in bedroom.

What he didn’t know was that he had an audience.

Sara sat perched on the edge of the bed, an amused sort of grin on her face as it took him several minutes to register her presence. When he did, he jumped, which managed to dislodge the knot at his waist and caused the towel to slip to the floor.

As he hurriedly bent down to retrieve it, Sara smirked and said as she used the remote to shut off the stereo, “You don’t have to cover up on my account.”

“I think I’ve bared enough for you already.”

“Suit yourself,” she replied. “Your grasp of Italian is rather impressive by the way. But I don’t think I have ever heard you sing in the shower before.”

“I usually don’t.”

“You save that for days that are particularly shitty, then?”

He shot her a pursed-lipped, glowering sort of look which didn’t faze her in the slightest.

“You know if the whole crime scene investigator thing doesn’t work out, you’ve got a great future as a baritone in the shower society opera company,” she teased.

Not deigning to dignify her remarks with a reply, Grissom merely shook his head and continued to dry his hair.

“How did you manage to get in anyway?” he asked after a while, just remembering that he hadn’t given her a new key yet.

“Well, I did knock, but you weren’t answering,” she explained. “So it was a good thing I swiped the spare you keep under Miss Piggy in case of emergencies.”

Grissom sighed. “Looks like I am going to have get myself a better guard pig then.”

“Why?”

“She’s doesn’t seem to be too discerning over whom she lets have my keys.”

“Discerning, huh?” Sara asked, sounding chagrined, but not. “I guess you don’t want to know what present I brought you then.”

“Present?” came his inquisitive query.

“Hodges gave me the idea actually.” She proffered an unmarked paper bag. “I thought it might come in handy.”

He took it curiously. Pulling out a large bottle of Anti-Icky-Poo, he scowled, “You are a laugh riot, dear.”

“I try,” she grinned. “One of us has to have some semblance of a sense of humor and we both know it’s not you.”

“So it is true.”

“What?”

True friends stab you in the front,”

“And quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit,” she retorted.

“Wilde, too?” he asked, his brows furrowed.

“Me, not really. You? Well…”

“No, Oscar,” he corrected.

Sara nodded.

“I’m going to regret letting you have free reign of my library, aren’t I?”

“Probably,” she replied, still smirking.

“Well, uh, thanks for this,” he answered, gesturing to the economy-sized bottle.

“It could come in handy in case you decide to give Greg a crap assignment again.”

“Sara –” Grissom half growled-half groaned.

She simply smiled cheekily and proceeded to close the distance between them. “Hmm…you look clean,” she said, circling him and eyeing him appreciatively. She paused to lean in over his shoulder. “You smell clean.” She ran a finger along his bare arm. “Must be clean.”

“Well, after an hour in the shower and an entire bottle of shampoo, I would hope so.”

“That’s too bad,” she replied, coming around to face him.

One of his eyebrows went up at this. “Oh?”

“Of course there’s nothing keeping us from getting you dirty again.”

This time when the towel fell to the floor, neither of them paid any attention to it.

*******

Have a question or want to leave a comment or concern and don’t have a wordpress account? Please feel free to email me at kadhmercer@gmail.com

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