We owe thanks to
CTorresBarreda, who kindly gave permission for the hijacking of her
idea from her story "A Reason to
Sing". We also
owe Marlou a thank-you, for encouragement!
Grissom stared in disbelief as the small ovoid rolled glittering across his desk, having emerged from a thick folder of papers. “What is this?”
Catherine uncrossed her arms and leaned forward in her chair. “Oh--it’s one of those candy eggs. Somebody’s been hiding them around the lab for people to find. I suspect Greg.” She smirked a little and relaxed again.
Grissom shot her a dour look. They both hated annual reports, and they had been laboring overtime to get them done. “Hiding them around the lab?” At her nod, he sighed. “I can’t even begin to enumerate the health hazards.”
Catherine rolled her eyes and leaned forward again to snatch the egg off his desk. “Oh, lighten up. It’s just for fun.” She peeled the foil neatly away and popped the confection into her mouth.
Grissom shook his head and rubbed at his eyes under his glasses, unwilling to show that the idea appealed to him slightly. “Don’t complain if your evidence ends up with chocolate cross-contamination, then.”
Catherine snickered, and flipped shut her own folder. “On that note, I’m quitting for the night--I got here early, I’m leaving early. Sara and Greg should be due back any minute.”
Grissom nodded. “I need a break myself.”
They both stood, stretching, and Grissom opened his office door for her, waving as she passed him with a breezy farewell. Sighing a little, he wandered towards the breakroom in search of coffee. A slow night was good, because it was Warrick’s night off, and it gave him time to work on those blasted reports. But he was bored and…and…
It was a feeling he was used to, a state he was comfortable in. At least until a certain tall brunette had upended his emotions and left him trying to regain an equilibrium that he feared was now permanently beyond his reach.
Grissom pulled down a coffee cup, finding with some bemusement another small egg rolling gently around inside. He dumped the candy into his palm, idly examining the intricate bright colors of the wrapper, then set it on the counter. Chocolate didn’t do well in pockets.
It wasn’t as though things were so bad any more, he mused, filling the cup. He and Sara had somehow managed to achieve a better footing after her painful confession to him in the privacy of her apartment, and he’d made an effort to be, well, open, at least as a supervisor. Given that the temperature of their interactions had remained the same, Grissom figured that Sara had accepted his oblique offering.
Grissom shot the egg one last glance, and decided to leave it. It’s not as though it has a grasshopper inside, he reasoned, and idled back out into the hallway, putting off paperwork as long as he could. The halls were fairly empty, but as Grissom passed the darkened Ballistics lab, he caught sight of movement within, and halted. True, the weapons were kept well locked up, but--
But the stealthy form revealed itself on closer examination. Jacqui, and she was puttering around the bench. It took Grissom a moment to realize that she was hiding chocolate eggs.
He let one corner of his mouth turn up, and leaned against the wall to wait for her to come out. No, it wasn’t that things were bad, he mused, watching the fingerprint tech stand on tiptoe to place an egg in a cupboard. It was just that he wanted…more. And had no idea of how to go about even suggesting it, or any idea of whether Sara still wanted more.
Emotionally unavailable. Hmph.
Jacqui’s start of surprise turned into a slightly guilty look when she pushed the door open and saw Grissom standing there. “Just tell me you didn’t hide any in DNA,” he said dryly.
She grinned, a wicked expression. “Are you kidding? Wendy would kill me.” She held a plastic bag half full of eggs. “Though she’ll find a couple in her locker.”
Grissom snorted agreement, grateful for Jacquie’s sense of safety, and walked with her as she headed back to her lab. “Oh, if you find the golden one, make sure to save it,” Jacquie added, and Grissom looked at her, puzzled.
“The golden one? As in goose?”
She chuckled. “More like, Willy Wonka.” She uncrinkled the bag and held it out to him, pointing to the small print on the back. The words advertised a contest--find the egg that was golden instead of chocolate beneath its wrapper, and win a trip for two to Belgium, home of the world’s finest chocolate. This cheerfully ignored the fact that the chocolate in the bag was made in New Jersey, but Grissom figured that most people wouldn’t care.
“I’m not even going to consider the odds against winning,” he said, and gave her back the bag. Jacqui flashed him another smile.
“Hey, it’s chocolate. That’s all you need to know.”
She stuffed the bag quickly into her labcoat pocket as Sara and Greg rounded the corner, each carrying a boxful of evidence, and Grissom nodded down at the tech. “Well, get back to me when you have something.”
One blink of confusion, and then she nodded gravely back; no one had ever said she was slow. “Will do, boss,” she said, and disappeared into her lab, waving at the laden CSIs.
A chorus of “Hi, Jacqui,” followed her, and then they turned to Grissom, cheeks flushed with the cold of the desert night. He raised both brows in question.
“Got him,” Sara said, sounding cheerful. “Bank records, credit card records, and--get this--a diary.”
“Lucky for us he was anal about writing down everything he did,” Greg added.
“The D.A. will thank you,” Grissom intoned, and watched them grin. “Go get warmed up before you process.”
He left them behind as he headed back to his office the long way, listening to them chatter comfortably with one another. Pairing them up had been a good idea, he had to admit; Sara was a natural teacher, and Greg’s skills were blooming under her care.
One of the few good decisions you’ve made lately.
Grissom ignored the sardonic voice and went to drown it in paperwork.
It was almost the end of shift when his bladder finally got his attention, and he took the opportunity to stretch his legs again, getting one more cup of coffee on the way back to his office. He had been back at his desk for five minutes when he realized that something was nagging at him. Some small detail. Something…
Grissom blinked, and looked over at the terrarium that held his tarantula. Yes, there it was; an ovoid wrapped in blue, purple, and green sat neatly on the sand. His spider was exploring it with delicate forefeet, apparently convinced that it was some new and fascinating rock.
He knew for a fact that Jacqui was terrified of spiders. There was no way she would have even approached that side of his desk, let alone opened the top to place the egg within.
Well, maybe someone’s helping her.
Amused, Grissom removed the tank’s lid, letting his pet clamber onto his palm, and spent a few minutes of quality time interacting quietly with the arachnid before replacing it and removing the egg. It was cool and solid as he rolled it idly in his fingers, and he was about to set it down and go back to his paperwork when a different gleam caught his eye.
A gleam of gold.
Frowning, Grissom scratched open the foil further in a narrow line, and then shook his head slowly. The egg was no doubt some base metal, rather than actual gold, but it was definitely golden-colored.
He regarded it for a long moment, the fat pleasing shape in his palm, considering the weight of symbolism behind it and the possibilities of Europe. He’d been there only once, but it had been a fascination and a delight to a man intrigued with differences and learning.
Grissom imagined it, the narrow streets and chatter of languages, the long press of history and the fun of the new. And abruptly he realized that he wasn’t alone, walking down those imaginary streets; no, there was someone walking with him, eyes wide with wonder and that same delight.
His thumb smoothed over the gap in the foil. She’d never been to Europe. It would suit her, he thought; she would seek out the hidden treasures, wouldn’t stick to the well-beaten tourist paths. She would wring every drop of experience and enjoyment out of such a trip.
He found her in one of the layout rooms with Greg, both of them packing up the records they’d been working on. Grissom paused for a moment before going in, to observe. They were the picture of serious scientists in gloves and coats, intent on their papers--until Greg leaned over and made some comment Grissom couldn’t quite catch, and Sara started chuckling. Greg grinned back, and they went on working.
Grissom couldn’t remember the last time he himself had made Sara laugh. It made his chest ache, a little.
He watched them for a moment more, then walked on past.
He knew which locker was hers; he’d assigned it to her. There was no lock; no one bothered, here. Stealing from CSIs was just plain stupid. He swung the narrow door wide.
It was hung with photos, mostly of her colleagues. Warrick unawares, reading in the breakroom with his head propped on one fist. Nick giving Greg a noogie. Even Catherine, standing next to Bobby with her fingers forming a V behind his head.
No pictures of Grissom, but he had to admit that he was good at avoiding cameras.
Her jacket hung on one hook within the locker, her purse on another; a change of clothes hung at the back. The high shelf held toiletries, her brush, and one rather shriveled lemon. Grissom smiled a little at that, and placed the egg gently on the shelf, where it rocked slightly.
He shut the door, turned, and froze. Sara was standing just inside the room, arms folded, regarding him with a closed expression, and Grissom found himself once again without words. He opened his mouth, and shut it again. “Sara.”
He half-expected her to accuse him of snooping, but her mouth quirked, and she stepped forward instead. Grissom moved out of her way as she opened the locker and took out the egg.
She looked down at it for a moment, examining, then up at him, and he shrugged. “Happy Easter?”
That made her smile. “I know you’re not the lab Easter Bunny, Grissom.” She bounced the little shape on her palm. “This is the golden one.”
He lifted his hands, palm-up. “I still think you could use a vacation.”
Sara breathed out, lips curving up. “So could you.”
Grissom quirked his mouth, wary. Was she suggesting…? No, she couldn’t be. “Not as much as you.”
Sara rotated her hand so that the egg rolled in small circles. Her smile was private, but as she looked up again, it grew, and he let himself take it in. “Grissom, I put this one in your terrarium.”
…Oh. He let himself think about that for a few seconds, then took a breath, and a chance. “Well, with a little creative scheduling, I’m sure the lab could spare us both.”
Sara nodded, firmly, and her fingers closed over the egg. “Good idea.”