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The Ghost That Grinned

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It's a little different than my usual fare, and I hope you enjoy. Thanks for reading! Originally posted on 7/31/08

If you build it, he will come...

Music. Sweet, intoxicating music. It was one of Gil Grissom's earliest childhood memories, and he would often think back to the music during the most important times of his life. The first time he kissed a girl, music. His first autopsy, music. Graduating from UCLA, music. Proposing to Sara Sidle over a horde of bees, music.

Gil's father, a botanist who inspired Gil to take an interest in science at an early age, also loved to play the piano. Some fathers wanted to come home and have a drink or two or watch the basketball game. Gil's father would come home and play. For hours he would play, and Gil would listen while he messed around with his model kits or conducted miniature science experiments. And even though his mother couldn't hear the music, she'd sit next to her husband and watch his hands, or put her own hand on the piano to feel the vibrations. She explained to Gil that she could hear the notes in her own special way, even if it wasn't with her ears. When his father died, the music didn't. He could still hear it if he listened.

Grissom heard the music at Warrick's funeral. He'd never heard Warrick play before, but both Nick and Sara told him what a great piano player the man was. Now he'd never get to hear him play, but he still heard the music.

Sara showed up for the funeral, looking sad and mournful for the passing of her friend and former colleague, but also bright and happy from spending time with her mother. Grissom wished he could make her that happy, and he knew someday he'd get that chance. They were still engaged, and she was just taking some time to get her life together before she comitted. He understood that, really, but he missed her. God, he missed her.

The funeral was lovely, if such an event can be characterized as lovely. There were so many people there, so many sad and confused friends of Warrick who wanted to know what happened. They all wanted to know who robbed Warrick of his future; who cut him off before he had the chance to turn his life around, which they all knew in their hearts would happen even if he didn't give them any reason to believe it.

Sara and Gil stood side by side, holding hands and listening to the service. Both Nick and Catherine were a fountain of tears, holding each other fiercely so that neither of them would collapse. Afterwards, Gil watched them leave together. He wondered if Warrick's death brought the birth of a new relationship. He wished them luck. Ever since he found his own love, he wanted everyone around him to find theirs, too.

Listening to the eulogy, Gil heard the music. He was no stranger to this music that only he could hear, so it didn't startle him. He enjoyed it; it made him think happily about his father. But then he heard something that did startle him-

If you build it, he will come.

Gil straightened. His sudden movement jolted Sara, and she asked, "Hon? What is it?"

He thought about telling her. They didn't keep much from each other these days. But this was one little thing he would keep to himself.

"Nothing. I just...nothing."

She tightened her grip on his hand and smiled at him grimly. He was so glad she was there, standing next to him. Getting through Warrick's funeral would have been so much more difficult if she wasn't.

A few minutes later, he heard it again. It was a male voice, whispering...

If you build it, he will come.

This time Grissom made sure he showed no reaction. But in his head, he was wondering what the hell was going on. Of course he had seen Field of Dreams, what baseball fan hadn't? But he was sure that this voice wasn't telling him to build a baseball field so the 1919 Chicago White Sox would come from Heaven to play a few innings. It was a shame, too-he would give a lot of money to see Shoeless Joe play right before his eyes. He was tempted to buy some land and do it anyway, but that was not the purpose of this voice, he was positive about that.

Sara didn't stay long. She wanted to, but she was working at a shelter helping victims of domestic violence back in San Francisco and felt her presence was needed there more than in Las Vegas. Grissom needed her, but he needed her to be who she was, too. So he let her go without protest. Besides, he was going to be busy. With what, he wasn't sure yet.

"I'll be back," she told him when he dropped her off at the airport. "I will. I just have to finish things before I can."

"I know, honey," he said. "Take all the time you need. I'll be here when you get back."

These were all things that had been said before, and it was now almost a routine. He didn't know when she'd back. He didn't know IF she'd ever be back for good. But as long as she kept coming back to him, it was okay. He was patient. She'd been patient for him, and now it was his turn.


For the next month, Grissom heard the voice 9 different times, in 9 different situations. He was busy assisting the day shift with the investigation into Warrick's death and still wasn't sure what to do with that information. He watched Field of Dreams twice just to see if he was missing anything, and he couldn't figure it out. Until he did.

He was in his office, searching the internet for clues, and Nick was talking about listening to Warrick play piano. Grissom wasn't sure how they got on the subject, but Nick was not about to stop chattering about it. He figured it was therapeutic for Nick to chat about his old friend, so he didn't stop him.

"I've only heard him play a few times, but he was so, I don't know, mesmerizing. And I know that sounds weird coming from me and everything, but it was true! I never brought a date over to his house for dinner because I knew if he started playing, she'd leave me for good."

If you build it, he will come.

And suddenly Grissom figured it out.

"His favorite was Beethoven. He just loved to play anything by Beethoven, especially-"

"Nick, I'm sorry, but I have to go. I have to go, um...well, I have to go. I'll be back in a few hours. Tell Catherine to cover for me."

Before Nick could protest, Grissom was literally running out of his office to his car in the parking lot. He made it in record time to his townhouse, where he surveyed the rooms. Hank happily jumped on his owner, happy to have a visitor in the middle of the night.

There was his bedroom, so empty without Sara. There was his office, where he spent many hours when he wasn't at work. He was building another miniature. Why, he wasn't sure, but it was something to focus on in the quiet surroundings of the day. There was the kitchen, where he was spending more time trying to cook these days. When Sara came back, he was going to surprise her with all the dishes he learned how to make.

And then there was that one empty room. It had been empty since the two of them moved in more than a year ago. The word "nursery" was never spoken but still somewhat implied. Well, if the subject ever came up, he'd have some explaining to do because he now had a purpose for this room. He hoped Sara wouldn't mind.

For weeks, Grissom worked on the room. He found he had to knock a few walls down, build in some padding, make the acoustics just right...he wasn't exactly a perfectionist, but whenever something wasn't exactly right, he'd hear the voice.

If you build it, he will come.

And he knew he had to make it better. So he did. He made it better. He made it perfect, and didn't even care that his actions might seem a little, well, insane to everyone else. He was already cutting his hours at work, and his colleagues were particularly worried about him. What was he doing if he wasn't with Sara?

"We have to call her," Catherine told Nick after almost a month of Grissom's handyman work. "He's lost it, and we have to get Sara back immediately."

"Come on, Cath, give the guy a little credit. I'm sure he has a reason for whatever he's doing at home, right?" Nick always gave the benefit of the doubt, and that was something Catherine really liked about him. Plus, he had a nice ass.

Grissom walked by, carrying plywood and some sheet music. Why he had this at work was anyone's guess. Catherine looked at Nick again, and he sighed.

"I'll call her," he said begrudgingly. "I mean, if nothing else, it's always nice to see her here, right?"

So Nick called his friend Sara, and 2 days later, she was back.

"Where is he?" Sara asked when she arrived at the lab.

"I don't even get a hug?" Nick asked, playfully frowning.

She smiled and hugged her old friend.

"You look great," she said. "Now where is he?"

"Not here, as usual. Check his house. You know where that is, right?"

She shoved him not so playfully and they both chuckled. And then Sara went home, to figure out what was wrong with her fiancé.


Grissom wasn't shocked when Sara walked into the townhouse. After she and Hank had their joyous, drooling reunion, she found him in the extra room, hammering an extraneous nail into the wall.

"What..." Sara said, looking around. It looked like a ballroom. A beautiful, sparkling ballroom. There was several rows of seats, set up like a concert hall. There was even a disco ball on the ceiling for a reason she couldn't explain. She didn't know if even he could explain.

"I can explain," he said.

"Can you?"

"Well, yes. I can. You've seen Field of Dreams, right?"

Sara chuckled. "Yes, dear. You've made me sit through it about half a dozen times."

"I heard the voice," he said seriously. "I heard it at Warrick's funeral, and I keep hearing it. I figured out what it was telling me to do, and now I'm doing it."

Sara stared at him. This was so not Grissom, and yet so very Grissom at the same time.

"Okay...so what exactly was the voice telling you to do?"

"Well, I think it was telling me to build this so Warrick would come. He loved playing piano, right? So now he can. I've built the room, now all that's missing is the piano. I was going to wait a few days to buy one, but now that you're here...will you come with me?"

Sara sighed, not knowing what to say. This was a man of science. This was a man who turned his back on religion too many years ago to count. This was a man who absolutely did not believe in ghosts. Had he lost his mind? Had he lost his beliefs, his goals, his sanity? She decided to believe in him, since he always believed in her. He wasn't doing this because he was crazy. He was doing it because it was something he needed to do, and she could definitely support something like that.

"I would love to come with you," Sara said. "Let's go now."

They picked out one of the biggest pianos in the store, a Baldwin Grand Piano with a Flame Mahogany finish. Grissom paid a little extra so they'd deliver it the next day. And Sara had to admit, with the beautiful piano sitting in the corner of this room Grissom had worked so hard on...it really was stunning.

"So what do we do now?" She asked him. He was still looking at the piano with awe.

"Well...I guess we wait," he said. "We wait for the music."

"Okay," she said hesitantly. "But if we find Shoeless Joe playing this piano, I'm telling the newspapers."

He grinned, and she knew he appreciated the fact that she didn't think he was merely going bananas. She didn't know what this was about, but it certainly was a new twist on things.

Sara decided to stay for a week or two. She knew he didn't exactly need her to, but she would feel bad leaving him again so quickly. And besides, she was curious what would happen to the piano. If nobody showed up, it would take a while to convince him to turn the room into a nursery again.


It took nearly a month, but it happened.

Gil was asleep when he first heard the music. He assumed he was dreaming; he often dreamt about his dad playing music for his mother. But he was jolted awake after he felt Sara get out of bed. She was a sound sleeper these days, so he was alarmed. Hank, who was lying at the foot of the bed, was also on alert.

"Do you hear that?" Sara whispered.

"Yes. I hear it."

It was Beethoven. The Ninth Symphony. And it was gorgeous.

"Should we...go in there?" Sara asked reluctantly.

"Well, I mean...we have to, don't we?"

She nodded, looking dazed and confused. They joined hands and walked slowly to what they now referred to as "The Ballroom."

The light was on, and the door was ajar. The piano was sparkling in the corner, with 2 expert hands tickling the keys. Sara and Gil looked at each other, and then at Warrick. And then they listened to the music.

Warrick looked happy, healthy, and rested. He looked like he was doing what he loved. There was a smile on his face that he never got while gambling, drinking, drugging...it was that of accomplishment. It was knowing that he was good; that he brought joy to people through the sound of his hands on the keys. It was amazing.

When the song was over, Warrick took a long breath, and then finally looked at his two former colleagues and friends.

"Hey, guys. Sara, I'm glad you're back. Griss needs you."

"Where...what...I don't..." Sara couldn't find the right words.

"I don't know," Warrick said. "I have no idea. But I'm here, and I have a purpose. Have you found my killer yet?"

Sara and Gil shook their heads. Every single lead had come to a dead end. They were spinning their wheels, and it was the most frustrating feeling imaginable.

"Look behind you," Warrick said.

They both spun around to see Under Sheriff McKeen sitting in the third row of chairs. He was staring at Warrick Brown, probably trying to figure out where he was and why he was there. He suddenly noticed Sara and Gil staring at him murderously.

"What?" He asked, trying to sound innocent, the one thing he wasn't.

"Why?" Grissom asked simply. "Why did you do it? Warrick wasn't a threat to you. He wasn't a threat to anyone."

"Oh, I don't know about that," McKeen said, knowing he was busted. "He wasn't going to stop until he found who really killed Gedda. Guess what? I offed him, too."

"Why?" Grissom asked again.

"Hmm. Corruption, greed, money...all that good stuff."

"He was our friend," Sara said. "He was a good man."

The under-sheriff chuckled. "Maybe, but he was going down a bad path, and it was so easy to pin it on him. I'm glad you all had faith in him, but that man was not going to turn his life around. He was a threat to the department, and he was a threat to me."

Nobody called the police, but they were still showing up in droves by the time McKeen was finished with his monologue. Grissom wasn't sure if they saw Warrick over there by the piano, or if they even knew why they were arresting McKeen at all, but they carried him off to their squad cars anyway. It seemed like McKeen had made quite a few enemies on his way to the top, and now everybody was anxious to get payback. Warrick grinned as he watched his killer being taken away by many angry police officers.

When McKeen was gone and things were quiet again, Warrick rose from his piano and walked over to Grissom and Sara.

"I have to go now," he said. "Tell Nick that Catherine's a handful, but I'm glad she's giving him comfort. And...thank you both. For believing in me when I was alive, and when I was dead."

They both gave him shaky hugs, not knowing what exactly they were hugging. Was he a ghost? A spirit? An apparition? A mix of both? They weren't sure, and as soon as the hugs were over, he disappeared.

They looked at each other wearily, confused, happy, and somewhat heartbroken. They turned to go to bed, but then the music was back. It was different this time. It was softer, more private. It was...familiar.

If you build it, he will come.

Grissom turned around slowly, knowing what he was going to see and finding that he was right. His mother and father sat on the piano bench, playing soft melodies on the grand piano. Something was different, though-his mother was humming along in time to the music. When she saw Grissom staring in disbelief, she smiled widely.

"Gilbert! We're so glad you're here. You have to introduce us to this lady friend of yours! What's her name?"

Gil Grissom had never heard the sound of his mother's voice. It was like music to his ears.

He made introductions. Sara tried to keep her shock and confusion to herself, but he knew her mind was blown. He knew that, because his was, too.

Before his parents disappeared to wherever they came from, his father gave him a tight, ghostly hug.

"I'm proud of you, Gilbert. You do good work for those of us who can't speak for ourselves. The victims need you. They rely on you. Keep it up."

Grissom had never received such a heartfelt, deeply moving compliment in his life. And as his parents disappeared into the void, he heard music in the stars.


"The Ballroom" was eventually turned back into the nursery, more out of necessity than practicality. Grissom and Sara hoped their son or daughter would know someday that their grandparents and their Uncle Warrick were watching them from wherever they were.

Grissom still heard the music. It was just much sweeter now.