Pick Up the Pieces
copyright 2003, by TweedEmpress
Grissom hesitated outside the door. He could let himself in, but the newness of the situation coupled with an innate sense of propriety led to him dutifully ringing the bell. It was a few minutes before the door opened and a low, husky voice purred into the night air:
‘Good Evening and welcome to Lady Heath- Oh! Hello!’
Grissom looked at the blonde-haired young woman and smiled.
‘Good evening, er Emma?’
She beamed at him, apparently delighted that he had remembered her name.
‘I didn’t realize it was you,’ she said, sounding far perkier than in her initial introduction. She moved to one side, allowing Grissom to enter and then closed the door behind him. Even from in the foyer he could hear, coming from somewhere deeper inside the house, pounding music and the occasional scream.
‘Lady Heather is holding a session.’ Emma informed him, a faint note of reverence as she said her employer’s name. ‘I’ll let her know you’re here.’
‘It’s all right, I’ll wait until she’s finished.’
Emma looked at him and then shrugged slightly.
Despite his protestations that he knew the way, Emma insisted on escorting him to Lady Heather’s private quarters, tottering along next to him on ludicrously high heels. She kept up a steady stream of small talk, which Grissom didn’t really listen to, but to which he made the appropriate noises when her tone seemed to demand a response. When they finally reached the door Emma opened it for him but, instead of going inside, waited in the corridor.
‘Do you need anything?’
‘No, thank you. I’m fine, Emma.’
She gave him a dazzling smile.
‘Okay, well … Goodnight, then.’
Emma stalked back along the corridor, her feather boa trailing behind her and Grissom turned into the room with a small sigh of relief at being left alone. The room was softly lit and remarkably peaceful – a tiny island of serenity. Grissom sat in a large armchair, letting his head fall back against the head-rest and closed his eyes. He felt unspeakably weary and in the calm of Heather’s rooms he allowed himself the luxury of indulging his exhaustion. With his eyes closed, Grissom became more aware of the more intangible details in the room. There was, somewhere, the muffled ticking of a clock and the air held a faint perfume. Lily of the Valley mixed with vanilla – he smiled to himself, recognizing the fragrance and had a brief, mental image of dark hair and penetrating blue eyes. Her presence was ingrained in the very air, even when she wasn’t in the room. He pinched the bridge of his nose, the day’s events replaying themselves in his mind. On the face of it, it hadn’t been a more trying day than usual, but … but it seemed to have drained him.
The perfume he had detected earlier suddenly grew stronger and the room was filled with soft music. Faure’s Pavane. Grissom smiled slightly, sensing more than hearing the rustle of silk.
‘Volume?’ her voice asked.
A moment later a pair of hands rested on his shoulders, gently feeling for the tension-knots.
‘Emma said you looked tired.’ Her tone was slightly accusing.
‘Are you teaching all of your staff to be as insightful as you are?’
He could hear her smiling and, capturing one of her hands, held it against his cheek.
‘It’s been a long day,’ he admitted softly.
Heather disengaged her hand and walked around him, seating herself on the sofa next to his chair. She was wearing an intricate leather corset and a voluminous black silk skirt but her hair, unusually, was pinned up. It made her look far younger. She interpreted his gaze and raised a hand to her hair.
‘It gets hot in the tank,’ she said, by way of explanation.
‘It suits you,’ he replied.
They held each other’s gaze for a moment and Heather smiled.
‘So, how was your day?’ Grissom asked.
‘Variations on a theme,’ Heather replied, shrugging slightly. ‘A man who thinks his wife is having an affair and comes here in order to work out his frustrations.’
‘Shouldn’t he talk to his wife?’
‘That’s what I tell him. But he doesn’t really want to be helped. Not yet.’
‘Will you be able to help him?’
‘I have hopes.’
They relapsed into silence momentarily: Lady Heather’s story seemed to merge with the other events of the day and Grissom suddenly said.
‘One of my C.S.Is found out today that her boyfriend has been cheating on her.’ The thought occurred to him that Sara probably wouldn’t want him or anyone else discussing her personal life, but found himself continuing, regardless. ‘She found out while she was investigating the crime scene where he’d been injured.’
Heather felt a moment’s pity for this unknown woman, but then turned her attention back to Grissom. He was, she knew, avoiding something – she could see in the depths of his eyes that he needed to talk about whatever it was. She sat back on the sofa, waiting patiently until he was ready.
Grissom looked up at her, meeting the gaze that she was keeping carefully neutral – but he could still detect a trace of concern in her face. He wondered if she would wait for him all night if she felt it necessary and then realized, with a jolt of amazement, that she would.
‘There’s nothing to worry about,’ he said eventually. ‘It’s just…’
Heather tilted her head to one side, still observing him.
‘Tell me anyway.’
He glanced away from her, eyes flicking restlessly around the room.
‘There was a young man … a boy, really. Highly intelligent, full of potential, the possibility of a great future in front of him.’ Grissom paused, finally looking at her again. ‘But his parents refused to pay his college fees – not because they didn’t love him, they did, they just couldn’t afford it. He tried to kill both of them. His father survived, but his mother died.’
Grissom was lost in the memories for a moment, recalling the utter deadness of the boy’s eyes. The coldness that had radiated off him.
Heather still waited, not certain what it was that had rattled Grissom so badly but unwilling to question him too closely in case he closed down.
‘He had a scientific mind,’ Grissom continued a few moments later. ‘A thirst for education, a need to understand…’ a small, slightly bitter smile curved the corner of his mouth as he recalled some for their conversations.
‘You saw similarities?’ Heather asked, not liking the direction the conversation was taking.
‘We had the same taste in literature.’
Her eyes flashed. ‘So do a lot of people.’
‘He took words that were meant to benefit mankind, meant to make us look deeper at ourselves and twisted them to mean the opposite. He had complete contempt for humanity.’
There was a pause.
‘Gil, you love humanity.’
Grissom arched one eyebrow, pursing his lips slightly. ‘A lot of people might disagree with you.’
‘I’m not like a lot of people.’
His eyes softened. ‘No, you’re not.’
Heather leaned forward, clasping her hands in her lap.
‘Why are you letting this get to you so much?’
He sighed, staring into the middle-distance.
‘And both that morning equally lay in leaves no step had trodden black.’
‘It’s the road not taken that makes all the difference, remember?’
Grissom turned his eyes back to her.
‘I looked at this kid and saw what could have been.’
Heather looked at him searchingly for a moment and then shook her head.
‘No. You could never be like that,’ she smiled slightly. ‘No matter what path you chose.’
He ran a hand through his hair, blinking wearily. ‘Perhaps you’re right.’
‘Of course I’m right. You couldn’t do the job you do everyday if you didn’t care deeply about other people and what happens to them.’ Heather spoke dispassionately, almost as though she were dissecting a case of her own. ‘If you were purely interested in science you could have worked solely in a laboratory and avoided contact with humanity altogether. You didn’t – you chose a job where you fight for voiceless people against the worst injustices done to them. That’s part of who you are.’ She quirked her head. ‘But you know all of this already.’
‘Maybe I just needed someone else to confirm it.’
‘That’s not all you need,’ she said, a note of severity in her tone.
Grissom nodded ruefully.
‘I think I need sleep.’
‘That’s easily taken care of,’ Heather replied decisively. ‘Are you on call tonight?’
She stood up and held out her hands.
‘Phone and pager.’
He looked up at her, an argument forming on his lips. Her eyes were commanding and Grissom realized that he had no real desire to oppose her on this. Without a word he reached into his jacket pockets, retrieved the items and, with another glance at her, switched them off.
She took both, turning to place them on a nearby table and then switched off the lamp so that the only light came from the candles.
‘What else do you need?’
Grissom looked at her, watching the flickering light play softly around her contours.
‘You already have me.’
Grissom held out a hand and pulled her toward him, one arm circling her waist as she settled in his lap. Her arms twined around his neck and she traced the outline of his lips with her tongue before slipping between them. He caressed her back through her corset, the leather feeling soft and supple and almost as warm as the skin beneath it. One hand moved to cup the back of her head and he pulled her closer to him. Heather shifted position until she straddled him and his breathing grew ragged under her ministrations.
Heather pulled away, looking at him questioningly.
‘Take your hair down.’
She reached up and slowly pulled out the pins, letting them fall to the floor. Grissom looked at her for a moment and then reached out a hand, lightly running it through the glossy dark hair. Heather remained still, her hands resting on his shoulders, waiting.
The desperate weariness that had taken hold of him seemed to have lifted, but he still needed sleep. Grissom’s hands moved to cradle her face and he pulled her mouth down to his again.
Sleep, he thought, could wait.
copyright 2003, by TweedEmpress