03 – Worth More Than a Thousand Words

Continued from Calling In

It was still a little over an hour before shift was about to start when Catherine slipped into her office, relieved to have made it without running into anyone from Swing. As the supervisor of that shift, as well as most of her staff, was still relatively new (there was just something about that shift that made it hard to get and keep people for long), Catherine often became the answer person. But unlike Grissom who seemed to enjoy, if not relish that role, she wasn’t all that keen on having that particular task added to her already burgeoning list of duties.

She sank down behind her desk, lifted the lid on her laptop and as she waited for the computer to boot up, checked her voice messages. She had two calls from Ecklie – one regarding an upcoming meeting to discuss resource allocation management and the other checking on the status of a case that had come in right at the end of her last shift. She couldn’t help but let out an impatient sigh when the next message was from Brass asking about the very same thing. She put in a hurried call down to autopsy and finding no one there to answer the phone, left her own message for Doc to page her as soon as he had the results in. She was grateful to find her voicemail box empty after that.

She clicked on her email to check for any last minute reports or information that she might need to bring to the team before she reviewed and handed out the evening’s assignments. As she scrolled passed the various day-to-day operation entries, meeting reminders and file requests, her eyes came to rest on an address she hadn’t expected to find there. Glancing down at her watch, she decided there was still plenty of time to finish prepping for the night. She could spare a few minutes. So she clicked on the message and read.

*******

To: Catherine.Willows@lvpd.csi.com

From: Sara Sidle

Subject: Greetings from Costa Rica

Catherine (et al., since I’m sure that everyone will eventually read this) –

We hope this finds you well. And that Lindsey, Ecklie and everyone else aren’t driving you too crazy yet.

While Grissom is a lot better at this whole letter writing thing than I am, he went to the post office and left me at the Internet cafe to post the pictures he promised you. Yes, I know, late as usual.

He did want me to tell you to expect a package soon and to thank you for sending his things. They got here a while ago, but I guess it slipped his mind until now. Some things never change.

We’ve been back at work for about a month now, after a short break for a trip to the west coast and a few days of vacation. Yes, we actually took a vacation. Well more like a honeymoon than a vacation. Gil said he was going to break the whole we got married news to you, but from what I could hear on my end of that phone call, I’m not quite so sure he succeeded. Like I said, some things never change.

But we’re both doing well and as Dr. Velasquez has graciously invited us to stay on a more permanent and official basis, it appears we will be here for a little while longer at least.

Gris is of course in entomologist heaven here. He thinks one of the guys may have discovered a new species of beetle, which has everyone (including me – sad to say) very excited.

BTW did you know the man actually knows how to climb a tree? Surprised the heck out of me. He is also equally adept at falling out of them, too.

Although I bet that Nick and Greg will get a kick out of hearing that Grissom got a month’s worth of dung collecting duty when he first got here. Of course the relish in which he approached that particular task was a bit troubling. But you know Grissom – anything for the sake of science. But I have to admit that it’s good to see him excited about it again, even if the pursuit is not without its perils. You will have to have him tell you about his first real encounter with a troop of howler monkeys and the episode with the army ants. Sometimes, curiosity is not such a good thing.

Well, I better finish this up, as he just walked in and will start reading over my shoulder any minute now and I won’t be able to write anything else that just might embarrass him.

He does want me to have you tell Hodges that he better be taking good care of his pig.

As for the pictures attached, I somehow ended up with no veto rights on what was being sent, so blame him.

Stay safe.

-S&G

*******

Catherine quickly printed out the email as she loaded the attached video and image files onto a flash drive, knowing she wasn’t likely to be the only one interested in seeing the pictures Sara had sent, and that it would be far easier to view them as a group if she took them to AV.

She was glad to see that Nick and Greg were in their office, but not so busy that what they were working on couldn’t be put on hold for a few minutes. Leaning in on the doorframe, she said, “I have something the two of you might want to see.”

“Oh really?” Greg asked with an almost impish grin.

“Get your mind out of the gutter,” Catherine sighed. “Photos from Grissom and Sara.”

Nick chuckled. “You want to bet it’s all bugs?”

“Scoff all you want. I’ll be in AV with Archie,” Catherine replied and turned to go. But both men were out of their seats and behind her before she got much beyond the door.

*******

“You guys are eager tonight,” Archie said when the three of them appeared in his lab just as he was sitting down. “Hot case?”

“Honeymoon pictures,” Greg replied.

“Grissom and Sara?” he asked and then said, “Cool,” with an appreciative grin when the three of them nodded. He plugged the drive into his computer. “I’ve got video and image files here. Any place in particular that you want to start?”

“Surprise me,” Catherine replied.

“You’re the boss.”

*******

Archie pulled up the first set of photos. They were a handful of the scenic sort, images of tall trees and rich green, hanging vines and hints of bright colorful petals here and there. A long limbed spider monkey half-dangled from a branch with only one hand and his tail to anchor him.  A three-toed sloth and her young were barely visible against trunk bark. A scary, almost fanged looking orchid spread its crimson spires from dingy white petals, while a troop of leap cutter ants wielded their verdant spoils like mighty shield bearers or perhaps like ladies would have once held their dainty parasols aloft. A lone rhinoceros beetle stretched its curved horn high.

“See, I told you,” Nick said. “Lots of bug pictures.”

Catherine shushed him unceremoniously.

“Those colors can’t be real,” Greg said rather awestruck at the pink and violet tinged vista of a sunset.

“Those don’t look like crime scene photos,” Mandy Webster said, popping her head in the doorway, Wendy Simms right beside her. “But if we’re going to start covering the beach, I just might volunteer for field work.”

“Honeymoon pictures,” Nick supplied, gesturing for them both to come in for a better look.

“Nice,” Wendy said.

Several shots of a flock of sandpipers on the shore were followed by a few close-ups of what looked to be wild hermit crabs.

“Catherine, Doc asked me to bring up the autopsy results from yesterday’s 419,” Dave Phillips said all businesslike, but his tone suddenly turned appreciative as he uttered a breathy sort of “Wow” when the image on the screen turned to something far more familiar and yet unfamiliar all at once.

Sara stood on the beach absorbed in watching the waves crash over her feet. What was so unusual was she was dressed in a modestly cut swimsuit — something far less than they were all used to seeing her in.

“David!” Catherine exclaimed agog.

“What?” he asked, looking nonplussed.

“You’re married,” she pointedly reminded him, taking the file folder he was extending towards her.

“Doesn’t mean he can’t look,” Nick countered as Dave slunk out of the lab.

“I’m pretty sure Grissom didn’t intend to send that one,” Catherine said reaching for the mouse.

But the guys brushed her hand aside.

“Oh, come on,” Greg protested. “I’ve seen Sara in a lot less than that.”

They all goggled at him.

“It was work,” he hurriedly qualified. “And all Doc’s fault. He called in HAZMAT on a crime scene and they yanked us out of the house and made us strip before we could even say anything. Believe me there was nothing sexy about the whole thing.”

“Still, I bet Grissom wasn’t pleased,” Archie observed.

“Come to think about it, wasn’t that around the time were you got every dumpster duty call for like a month?” Nick asked. “Why do I have the feeling that wasn’t a coincidence?”

“It was more like three and it wasn’t related.”

“Yeah right,” Nick replied.

“Has Sara always had a tattoo?” Archie queried, effectively putting an end to any previous conversation.

*******

The next set of photos proved for the most part, a lot less controversial. Rabbles of butterflies populated the large screen in a plethora of varying rainbow shades – bright orange and vibrant yellows, even a few of a brilliant iridescent blue. Spots and stripes and giant eyes peered back at them. Then Grissom stood in the midst of a swiftly winding river.

“What’s he doing?” Wendy asked curiously.

“Fishing,” Jim Brass replied, stepping inside. “Catherine, I just came by to see if you had gotten that file from Doc yet,” he added.

Catherine handed it over as she said with a laugh, “I think the better question is What is he wearing? That hat!” she exclaimed.

“I was more distracted by his legs,” Mandy airily replied. When they all gaped at her this time, she shrugged and said, “What? He’s got nice legs.”

“That is so wrong on so many levels,” Archie observed.

“You guys can ogle Sara in a swimsuit, but I can’t think Grissom has nice legs?” Mandy queried in disbelief.

“But it’s Grissom,” Henry Andrews interjected. “Your tox report, Catherine,” he said.

Catherine motioned for him to place the file on the counter. Mandy turned to the toxicologist as if to say So? When he didn’t answer, she simply frowned in frustration, shook her head and after muttering that she had a backlog of prints still to get to tonight, left the room, mumbling something that sounded a lot like “Boys!” when she did so, leaving Henry looking baffled for a moment before he followed her out on the way back to his own lab.

Catherine and Wendy shared a look. “Men are such hypocrites,” the latter insisted. Catherine nodded.

Everyone was about to return their attention to the screen, when Conrad Ecklie strode in asking, “What’s going on here?”

“Just looking at incriminating pictures,” Nick explained.

“And that is crowd worthy because?” the Undersheriff queried.

“They’re of Grissom,” Greg clarified.

“Besides,” Catherine said giving her boss a placating sort of grin, “isn’t it a little late in the day for you to be here?”

“I was just on my way out,” Ecklie replied. Then deciding that it wasn’t worth it to try and fight what he knew right well would be a loosing battle, he simply shook his head and said, “I’m just going to pretend I’m not seeing this,” and left the room without another word.

******

They were just starting on a series of insect pictures that looked like they had been taken around a beach house. A giant large-bodied spider, one with long striped legs, a blue head and a huge green abdomen speckled with yellow, sat perched up in the rafters, snug on its web. A dingy colored cockroach with great translucent wings crept along the floorboards while a gecko roosted on a windowsill, a huge dragonfly in its mouth.

“See, what did I tell you before? Lots of bug pictures,” Nick said in a self-satisfied tone.

“I think I am not quite so jealous now. Or hungry,” Wendy cringed.

But when Archie began to play the video files, a sudden hush filled the room. These were obviously from the wedding itself, with Sara in a simple shift of a dress that had just a hint of blue to its sheen and two clusters of white blossoms tucked behind her ears and Grissom in khakis and a dress shirt with a soft smile on his face.

The pair exchanged vows and rings in front of an older Costa Rican who looked more like a lawyer than anything. When he pronounced them married, Grissom did something that no one in the room could have expected – he reached for Sara’s hand, that same one he had just slipped the simple band on just moments before, brought it up to his lips and placed a kiss into her palm. Sara beamed and drew him close. The kiss that followed began innocently enough, but it was Grissom who moved to deepen it into something far more, something long, longing and loving and obviously a lot more passionate than any of them expected.

“I’ll be damned,” Nick murmured.

Catherine turned to him. “What?” she asked.

“Hodges was right about something.”

She looked puzzled for a moment before memory and realization sunk in and a slow smile spread over her face. “Well, don’t tell him that.”

“Don’t tell me what?” Hodges asked.

“You know, I really am beginning to think you have this place bugged,” Catherine replied ruefully.

“Don’t tell me what?” Hodges persisted. “What are you looking at anyway?”

“Pics from Grissom and Sara’s wedding,” Wendy supplied.

“Oh,” he said softly, suddenly looking a little standoffish and more than a little uncomfortable. When Wendy beckoned for him to join them, he shook his head and turned to go without another word.

“Hey, Catherine,” Nick called as a new video clip loaded. “Didn’t you say that Grissom didn’t dance?”

“I’ve never been able to persuade him to,” she replied.

Greg having overheard said, “Maybe it depends on the partner.”

“What does that make me, chopped liver?” Catherine queried.

Brass, sensing a change in topic was in order, said, “That’s certainly a sight I’d never thought I would see: either of those two with rings on their fingers.”

“I don’t think I have ever seen either of them look so happy,” Nick sighed.

“I always knew you were a closet romantic, Nicky,” Brass replied with a grin.

“That’s not happiness though,” Catherine corrected.

“Them looking forward to the honeymoon, then?” Greg suggested.

“Don’t be so crass,” Nick chided.

“What then? Love?” Greg asked him.

“No, that’s joy,” came Ray Langston’s deep rich voice. They all turned to stare at him in surprise. But he didn’t seem to notice. There was just a knowing sort of look in the half smile he was giving them, as one hand absently fingered the wedding band on his own left hand. They had all noticed the ring, but Langston had yet to speak about his wife.

The sudden awkward pause was interrupted by Riley Adams saying, “I didn’t even know Grissom could smile.”

“What do you do, work on sneaking up on people in your spare time?” Greg asked, to which she just rolled her eyes.

“Well, I don’t think I have ever seen Sara in a dress,” Catherine said.

Greg turned from Riley and said, “I have. It was a nice dress. A really nice dress.”

“A nice dress?” Catherine asked, as if something had suddenly clicked. “As in a date dress?”

“A serious date dress,” Greg replied. “And she had flowers then, too.”

“This wouldn’t have been May what is it, three almost four years ago, would it?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s a good thing Grissom is planning on staying in Costa Rica,” she said finally.

“Why?”

She stammered, “Because I’m going to give that man a serious piece of my mind if he ever shows up here,” before gathering up her file folders and marching out the door towards the break room.

“What’s up with her?” Riley asked, suddenly confused.

Nick smiled, “I think Catherine just worked out the mystery that has been plaguing her for the last year and a half.”

Riley shrugged, “And she didn’t like the answer?”

“‘Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple,’” Langston intoned solemnly.

“Albert Einstein?” Nick guessed.

“No. Theodor Seuss Geisel.”

Doctor Seuss?” Greg inquired incredulously.

“What? You think the most profound thing that man ever said was, ‘One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish’?”

*******

Wendy gave a quiet rap on the door before tentatively entering the Trace Lab.

“You okay?” she asked Hodges, who was seated at his workstation with an uncharacteristically distant and distracted sort of look on his face.

He started and stammered “Yeah, why?”

“Well, first, you didn’t stay to look at the pictures earlier,” she began to explain. “And then you’ve been hiding in your lab ever since.”

“I haven’t been hiding,” he protested. “I’ve been busy.”

Indicating his clear work area, she said, “Yeah, you look really busy, Hodges.”

“I just wasn’t in the mood.”

“You do know that jealousy doesn’t suit you.”

“It’s not jealousy,” he countered.

“What then?”

Hodges shrugged his shoulders and sighed before saying, “I guess I always thought of Grissom as a lone wolf. You know, the guy who was willing to do whatever had to be done, no matter what the cost. Even if that meant he had to do it alone.”

“Don’t you think that’s an awful lot to ask of anyone?” Wendy asked, giving him a wry sort of smile. When he didn’t answer, she said, “There’s more to life than just work, Hodges. Even Grissom had his bugs — and Sara apparently. You have your board games and a cat.”

“Now you’re making fun of me.”

“I’m not.” When he continued to look doubtful, Wendy insisted, “Seriously. Actually, the whole thing gives me hope,” she added. “I mean if there is someone out there to put up with Grissom and his weird bug obsession, then there’s bound to be someone who will put up with my neuroses. Heck, there’s probably even someone, somewhere who will put up with yours.”

“That’s very reassuring,” came his curt reply.

“Come on, Hodges. You’re his friend. Be happy for him. For them,” she implored. “Besides, shift ends in fifteen minutes. Why don’t we go have a drink? Toast the happy couple,” Wendy suggested. “Unless you have plans.”

“Isn’t it a little early in the day for a drink?”

“We could make it coffee then.”

“You do realize that the half-life of caffeine is often more than 4 hours especially for women who…”

“Before you finish that sentence,” she interrupted, her voice getting a testy sort of tone to it. “Let me spell it out for you in terms even you can understand. It’s been a long shift and a long week and in fifteen minutes, I plan to pack up and go out for a while. If you would like to join me, fine. If not, fine. Then I will just see you in,” she paused to check her watch. “Fourteen hours when shift starts. It’s up to you.”

And with that, she marched out of Trace, almost careening into Henry as she did so.

“What’s wrong with her?” Henry asked.

Instead of answering, Hodges replied with a question of his own, “Do you think I’m neurotic?”

He wasn’t comforted in the slightest by Henry’s ready and amiable, “Is that a rhetorical question?”

*******

Earlier the previous day, Costa Rica

Sara was in the process of packing up and slipping the flash drive into her pocket when Grissom came up behind her.

“Did you send the pictures?” he asked.

She nodded and as she slung her backpack over her shoulder said, “Everything in the folder.”

Grissom suddenly looked alarmed. “Which folder?” he queried.

“The one labeled pictures,” she replied, as if the answer were obvious.

“The whole folder?”

She handed the young man at the counter a 500 colones coin before turning to Grissom and saying, “You told me to send the pictures in the pictures folder.”

“The wedding pictures folder,” he corrected.

It was her turn to look concerned now. “There was more than one folder?”

“You didn’t check to see what you were sending first?” he asked as if it would have been the most normal thing in the world for her to have done.

“Normally yes,” she replied. Having him show up ten minutes before she expected him and while she was in the middle of writing about things she could imagine Grissom thinking were better left unshared had thrown her for a loop. So she had just quickly inserted the file and hit Send. “You should be happy I remembered to attach anything at all,” Sara laughed nervously.  “Short line at the post office today?” she teased, hoping to dispel a little of the anxiety he was suddenly displaying with an attempt at humor, however feeble. When that didn’t work, she said, “What was in the folder anyway? You been taking pictures that I don’t know about?”

“No, dear,” Grissom solemnly intoned. “But Mateo was more than a little camera happy. If I recall.”

“You were the one who gave him the instructions. And showed him how to use the video function.  You know, I think I am beginning to sense a pattern here.”

“That all of this is my fault?”

“And some men are married for years and years without realizing that particular truth,” Sara grinned. “You really are a quick study, Gil.”

“Thanks, dear.”

But then an amused sort of smile spread over his face.

“What?” came Sara’s confused query.

“What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall…” Grissom began.

“I doubt there is anything there that would scandalize Catherine.”

“True,” he conceded. “But I don’t think the guys have ever seen you in a swimsuit before.”

“Remind me to thank you for that later. Especially as I distinctly remember asking you to delete those pictures.”

Grissom however didn’t look the least bit apologetic. Sara pursed her lips and putting her hands on her hips said, “Hand the bag over.”

Knowing exactly what that look meant, he did as she said, although he had a hard time hiding his amusement as he did so. Even though he already knew the answer, he asked, “What are you looking for?” when she began to hurriedly rummage through his rucksack.

“The camera,” she answered, pulling it out and slipping it into her own pack. “You’ve officially lost your picture taking privileges until further notice.”

“You were the one who sent the file out,” he vaguely protested.

Sara made no reply to this; instead she began to set off down the street, but not without first pausing to say, “Just remember that turn about is fair play, Gilbert.”

At this, Grissom did indeed stop smiling.

Continued in Fowl Play.

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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