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
She flashed him a quick smile, teeth gleaming in the faint moonlight.
“At least we’re downwind of the
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
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
Grissom murmured, cocking his head at the stewing sunbather. Sara
“What’s the Latin word for
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
A horrible suspicion blossomed in Sara’s
mind, and her
flashlight wavered in the water.
“Oh God. One of us has to go
blurted, not daring to look at Grissom’s face. He clicked his
“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
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
“I’LLdotheautopsy!” came her
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
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
Oh. Ooohhhhh. She felt the blush heat up her
face, and was suddenly
grateful for the darkness.
“You CAN swim, right?” came her
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
“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.