Response to a private challenge; the elements included a three-quarters moon, a bag of lemons, a lizard, and Sara and Grissom, as well as the quote "What's the Latin for 'stupid'?" and the word "hierarchy".

The pool was dark and still, and in Sara’s opinion, utterly uninviting. She crossed her arms as she looked into the depths, noting the mosaic lizard in fancy tile on the bottom of it. On the other side, Grissom flicked the beam of his flashlight through the depths as he called to her.

“Power’s out for most of this block, so we are limited to whatever light sources we’ve brought with us. Brass is trying to get some kliegs, but with the traffic situation that might be a while.”

Sara sighed. She flicked on her flashlight and let the beam shine through the water as she began a slow stroll towards the deep end.

“Divide and conquer?” Grissom called approvingly. She flashed him a quick smile, teeth gleaming in the faint moonlight.

“At least we’re downwind of the body.”

Which was true; the putrefied remains of John “Soup in the kiddie pool” Doe were at least twenty feet away, and while the scent of wet decomposition was still heavy, it wasn’t strong enough to make her constantly think of retching.

“I’ll pick up a bag of lemons before we head back tonight,” Grissom called, as if reading her mind. Sara glanced up, trying not to look hopeful, but he didn’t clarify whether they’d be for her or him. She hated that about Grissom—if she asked, he’d make HER sit in on the autopsy, and if she DIDN’T ask, he’d probably do the same anyway.

The hierarchy sucked in law enforcement, it really did.

She sighed. As she did, her flashlight lit up something swaying at the bottom of the pool near the lizard’s stomach. Instantly Grissom’s light joined hers, and they both recognized the object: a baggie. Whatever was in it was heavy enough to sink to the bottom, but if luck were with them, the seal would have kept the water out. Sara looked around the pool fence.

“No dip net, no pole—damn it, what kind of pool owners WERE these people?”

“At least one of them was very unlucky—“ Grissom murmured, cocking his head at the stewing sunbather. Sara grimaced.

“What’s the Latin word for stupid?” she demanded, looking around again for a stick, a rake--anything that would help retrieve the bag.

“Stupidus, meaning stunned. Always sounded like a bad character name.” Across the pool Grissom rose up. “Sara, we have a rare opportunity here for a moment of true parity. Two situations, neither of them appealing, both of them requiring some physical exertion on our parts to uncover the truth. Since there are two of us, and since we began this with a theme of divide and conquer, I’m willing to continue that line of effort.”

A horrible suspicion blossomed in Sara’s mind, and her flashlight wavered in the water.

“Oh God. One of us has to go in—“ she blurted, not daring to look at Grissom’s face. He clicked his flashlight off.

“One of us has to go in. One of us has to sit through the autopsy. Choices, Sara. Neither of them pleasant.”

“But—“ she began, then stopped. She’d barely lasted through two decomp autopsies by sheer will, vowing each time never to do one again. And yet, the terrifying thought of stripping down to bra and panties to get in this by now chilly pool in front of Grissom, (GRISSOM! Her mind screamed), was no less frightening.

“I’LLdotheautopsy!” came her quick announcement. She swayed, finally looking up and across the pool at Grissom. In the dark, he stood stock-still, and she couldn’t tell if he was disappointed or relieved.

“You’re sure?” he finally asked, his voice strangely tight-sounding. She nodded, just as it dawned on her that if she wasn’t going in, then Grissom was, and that would mean—

Oh. Ooohhhhh. She felt the blush heat up her face, and was suddenly grateful for the darkness.

“You CAN swim, right?” came her anxious question. Grissom turned and began to walk towards her side of the pool after turning his flashlight back on.

“Yes. While I go in, you have to keep the beam on the evidence so I know where to go.” His words were slightly muffled near the end of his sentence as he pulled his jacket off and began to unto his shirt buttons. In the silence, Sara didn’t know where to look, so she kept the beam on the baggie and said nothing. The shirt was followed by a tee shirt, and he toed his way out of his loafers. Sara could feel the displacement of air as he moved, was horribly, sweetly aware that Grissom was taking this clothes off less than an arm’s reach from her.

“W-what do you think it is?” she asked in a voice supported by a little quaver, trying not to look. A flash of big shoulder, pale in the dim light made her shiver. Grissom’s voice was low as he pulled off his socks.

“Something important enough to retrieve. Just keep the beam on it.” So saying, he swiftly unbuckled his belt and stepped out of his slacks, draping them on the closest deck chair. Grissom stepped to the edge as Sara tried not to stare at him with her peripheral vision and failed.

His shoulders were wider than she’d ever realized, strong and well formed in the dim light. Pale of course, but Grissom was also a substantial block of man with a powerful chest and fairly trim stomach. He dropped to sitting position and slipped into the water in one economical gesture, as smoothly as an alligator entering a bayou. The water barely rippled, and Sara winced emphatically, well aware that the pool’s heater had shut off an hour ago. Grissom treaded water with big slow sweeps of his hands.

“Keep the light steady,” he intoned once more. Then taking a breath, he bent forward in a powerful plunge, and Sara had a quick, heart-hammering vision of the valley of his broad back, and the hard muscular curve of his ass outlined through wet boxers before his legs rose and his torso descended into the wavery depths. Grissom glided down through the water, approached the baggie and plucked it up on the first pass, rising up a good ten feet beyond the rim of the light and breaking the surface quietly. Sara swung the light, catching him in the face and dropped the beam quickly before he could complain. The lovely vision of his sleek face, hair temporarily straightened and darkened by the water, haunted the afterimage in her eyes.

“Got it. Seems to be an empty bottle in the baggie. I think there maybe something else down there too, so I’m going to go again,” he called as he set the baggie on the far side of the pool. Sara refocused the beam down into the water and gave herself a moment’s permission to watch Grissom. He swam in a strong, powerful under-the-surface breaststroke, them dove again to the depths, as comfortable there as on the surface. Through the distortion of the water, his body was streamlined but big, and definitely masculine. His shorts fluttered with every stroke.

Finally, after three more dives, he gave a snort of triumph and swam to Sara’s side, holding something in one hand. Reaching the concrete edge, he threw the arm up over it and opened his palm to reveal a screwtop bottle cap. Sara recognized the name brand embossed on the lid. Grissom flashed a smile up at her, and she was speechless for a moment in the beauty of his long wet eyelashes, his tangled curls.

“Everclear. 200 proof and more than enough to kill a man. If our John Doe was foolish enough to down this stuff without some sort of mixer, it stands to reason he’d pass out.” Sara picked up the thread of logic. “And if he lies unconscious for hours in the sun, sunstroke sets in, and by nightfall, corpse. Leave him for an extra day, and instant body bouillabaisse so our victim is an accidental death rather than a murder. Tidy. But the bottle in the pool?”

“Round and rolls. He might have had it on ice in the baggie and it slipped out of his hand and into the water,” Grissom conjectured. As he spoke he pressed both his hands onto the edge and levered his big frame out of the water. Sara stepped back to give him room, and in that instant her flashlight beam swung along his back. The rush of momentum lifted Grissom but not his boxers, and for a long couple of seconds she caught the sweet sight of a three-quarters moon as he clambered wetly onto the deck.


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