Some people major in English or Art History. Gil Grissom majored in bugs. Well known to his peers, Grissom lived for the creepy crawlers that he used to decorate his office at the Las Vegas Crime Lab. The top Entomologist in the state, he was considered the best at his craft. And he took great pride in what he did. He knew that he had the best lab and the best team in Nevada. Their lab was rated number two in the country. But to Gil Grissom being second best was not an option.
"Okay, first draw of the night. Warrick, Sara, Nick ~ door number one or door number two?" Grissom said as he walked into the break room.
Catherine looked up from her coffee with a frown. "I don’t get to pick?"
"Nope, you’re with me. Warrick, which door? We’re not getting any younger."
Nick Stokes turned to his partner with a look of suggestion. "Go for door number two man. Door one is always the lifetime supply of Rice a Roni."
Grissom looked at his three younger colleagues. A small hint of humor in his eyes. "Excellent choice Nick."
"Why do I suddenly have the feeling door two is the rice?" Sara Sidle spoke up.
"Oh man, you’ve got to be kidding me! Griss, this isn’t natural." Warrick said.
Behind door number two had been a schoolteacher that was found nailed to her chalkboard.
Glancing down over his shoulder Sara looked back up to her boss. "Uh, is it possible to negotiate a trade?"
"Sorry Sara. Luck of the draw. Let’s go Cath." Grissom replied as he exited the room with Catherine hot on his heels.
Once outside Catherine finally spoke again. "Gil, what’s going on? You must have been holding out on them for some reason."
"What makes you say that?"
"Come on, I’ve known you too long and too well not to figure it out."
"I just thought they’d do well with that case. Nothing more to it than that."
"Okay, if you say so." Catherine replied with a smile. "So, where are we going?"
"We’re making a house call."
Nick, Sara, and Warrick drove up to the high school. Neither one of them got out of the Tahoe right away. They just sat in the car trying to get up their courage. Warrick was the first to climb out, after him Sara climbed down. Finally Nick joined them on the sidewalk.
"Next time it’s a 50/50 shot, Nick…keep your mouth shut." Sara said as they walked into the building.
The officer on the scene began filling them in on why exactly they were there. Warrick stayed behind to speak to the officers while Sara and Nick went in to begin processing the scene.
"Man, I hated my high school English teacher, but I never would have thought this up. The only punishment I could think of was ditching four out of five days a week." Nick said
"That certainly would explain your fascination with street slang." Sara responded sarcastically.
"I’m going to ignore you. At least until I have a relevant comeback."
Walking back into the room, Warrick began detailing the scene. "Okay, here we go. Fast facts. History teacher, age 30, found by the janitor at 9:00 this evening. No one saw or heard anything. Basically it’s all us on this one.
Jim Brass met Grissom and Catherine outside of a middle class suburban home. He hated calls like this one, but he knew the two senior CSI’s would thrive on it’s complicated aspects. They were really big on solving puzzles.
"Alright Jim, let’s have the rundown." Grissom said to the older detective.
"Officers received a domestic disturbance call from a neighbor sometime around 9:30 pm. When they arrived at the house both adults were dead. The officers at the scene were let in by a young male age 12."
"Why do I get the feeling that this is investigation is just a formality?" Catherine asked as she looked from Grissom to Brass.
"Never assume anything Catherine." Grissom said as he walked into the house with his field kit in hand.
Catherine followed him into the house and nearly fainted at what she saw. "Okay, I take back what I said before."
There were two bodies just as Brass had said. The female body was lying face down on the living room floor. She had been shot twice in the back, which was the initial cause of death. Or so it appeared. The male victim had also been shot, but he was slumped over the couch and had apparently been shot in the chest and head. How many times however was questionable.
"Hey, Grissom. I’m going to find the boy and talk to him. Maybe he can give us an idea of what happened in here." Catherine said while she was on her way out the door.
Grissom knew something had struck her nerve. She didn’t have to say it; he could feel it.
"Hey Sara, what do you have?" Warrick asked his partner.
"What d’you mean? I didn’t say anything."
"That look again."
"Oh yeah, right." Sara replied with just the smallest hint of vague recollection. "Well, I found some blonde hair on the body and on the tray of the chalkboard. Some blood under her fingernails too. But that could just be from a scratch she had before or something like that."
Nick looked at the victim’s fingers and then back up at Sara. "Let’s just hope, that for her sake, the question of who is that easy to answer."
Warrick began packing up the gear and turned to his colleagues. "Yeah right. C’mon, let’s get this stuff to Greg and fill Grissom in on the details."
Catherine was standing outside the house and looking at the small group of uniformed men and women that had formed by the street. In the middle of the group was a young boy sitting in a squad car.
"Hey guys, why don’t you let me talk to him for a minute?" Catherine said as she walked up behind the group.
"No problem Ms. Willows." The rookie of the group replied.
Catherine knelt down in front of the boy so she was at his eye level. "Hi. My name’s Catherine. I’m here to help you. Can you tell me your name?"
"Matthew. My parents are dead."
"Yeah, that’s right sweetie. They are. They tell me you opened the door when the police came."
"I had to. I had to protect Lindsey."
"She’s my sister. She’s only nine. I had to protect her."
"From what Matthew? What were you protecting her from?"
Once they were back at HQ Sara, Nick, and Warrick gave Grissom the rundown. Grissom had just gotten back and was on his way to follow Catherine when his three younger CSI’s stopped in the hall.
"Not too much to tell right now. We took some hair, fibers, and blood samples from the vic and what she was nailed to." Sara told the supervisor.
Nick jumped in when he noticed Sara swimming for Grissom’s attention. Clearly their boss’s mind and thoughts were somewhere else.
"We took what we had to Greg and some of the other stuff down to Trace. But right now I think all we can go on is the list of students she taught and the staff of the high school."
Grissom took off down the hallway and threw orders over his shoulder as he went. "Good, go on that. If you find something worth a closer look, talk to Brass."
And then he was gone; leaving the other three to stand in the hallway exchanging equally confused glances.
Grissom found Catherine in the locker room. She was sitting on the bench with her back against the row of lockers. He stood in the doorway and just watched her for a few minutes. It was obvious that she’d been crying and he admired the way she could get so attached to cases involving children. She tapped into emotions he wasn’t even sure he still possessed.
Finally he walked in and spoke her name softly. "Catherine."
She said nothing; instead she furiously wiped at her face. She knew Grissom and his idea of appropriate ways and places to show emotion. She sat in silence with him hovering over her for a few minutes more. It was Grissom who broke the silence yet again.
"Catherine, they found the little girl. She was hiding in an upstairs closet."
"What? What’s wrong with your daughter?"
"No. The little girl. Her name is Lindsey." As Catherine said that fresh tears slid down her cheek.
"Right. Okay. All the same, they found her. She won’t talk to anyone of us. I even had Sara try. I was thinking maybe you could…" he stopped when he noticed the look of disdain on her face.
"Christ! What is wrong with you?"
"What are you talking about?" Grissom asked clearly confused.
"They have names Gil! They all have names. But all you want to do is give them a number or maybe a toe tag and a hole in the morgue’s wall of fame. It’s not being too personal or becoming to attached to say their name more than once!"
Grissom looked at her completely stunned. Realizing what she had done and whom she’d been speaking to, or rather yelling at, Catherine turned to look at him. She couldn’t believe she’d done that. And so she did the only thing that came to her mind.
"Gil, I’m so sorry. I forgot where I was for a minute. I…"
"No, you’re right. I’m the one that should be saying sorry."
Catherine looked away from him then and hung her head. And then she spoke. She spoke so softly he almost had to have her repeat herself.
"I need off this case. I can’t do this. It’s hitting me too close to home. I have a daughter and I spent too many years praying that she, my Lindsey, would never have to see what those children saw in that house tonight. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like for them. I don’t think I want to."
Grissom looked at his friend and watched the newly formed tears spill over and fall. He wanted to hug her and he would have had they truly been alone. But there were too many people around the building. Namely three who could walk in at any given moment. So he just grabbed her hand instead and he held it as tight as he could for the fear that he may lose her at any moment.
"Cath, I understand. I know how much you hate any case involving kids. And I can’t even imagine how much worse this one must be considering the little girl and your daughter not only share a name, but are the same age as well. Take all the time you need."
And then he thought to himself for a moment and looking around them into the hall, he threw his workplace ethics out of the window. Grissom pulled Catherine in for a hug. But only for a second or two. Then they just sat together, side by side for a while. Catherine with tears still falling every so often and Grissom rubbing her hand with his thumb as he held it.