CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
Word Count: 1042
Write about receiving a present that was not what you had hoped for.
“Do you know what, Gil?” Ecklie said, reclining on the chair opposite the other man, who sat at his desk, a cluttered and distracting tumult of papers and unfinished reports. There was a dismissive air surrounding that situation that had managed to abate both their normal and general animosity, as well as the desire to bring up the several recent qualms they had with one another, as well as the past and more constant ones. Whatever it was that surrounded them, they had drunk it in, and for a few moments, they were at a relative, if not short, truce.
Grissom fixed the other Supervisor with a long stare, and finally gave up at whatever he might have been hinting at, and why there was a sudden calmness in both their voices. He shrugged into the amicable silence, and cleared his throat to speak up.
“What, Conrad?” he said, and let the all consuming silence resume its place in the room until there came such a time that one of them would reply or otherwise speak.
“For every birthday my aunt knits me a jumper, a vest, something like that. I got books too, sometimes, but that’s all I get for my birthday. Forty plus years of jumpers I have packed away with mothballs in a cupboard at home.” the Dayshift said, the smile on his face errant yet still a hard line, the closest to any form of whimsical expression he might ever get. Grissom just looked at him, not puzzled, but not completely getting whatever point he was trying to get at, which was hard especially seeing as there was not much of one. Ecklie, in thought, cracked his knuckles absently and Grissom reflexively frowned at the disturbing noise of the popping, wearied joints that were enjoying a repentant relief that their owner’s mind could not.
“In a few years, she’ll be dead, Gil. In a few years, we’ll be moving on, or at least, you will.” the balding man ventured further as a path of memories spread before him, his mind sending out exploratory tendrils to see what he could speak of, to make the moment relevant, important, something to be remembered, something meaningful. He didn’t want it to just be the rambling of a man near the end of his shift, someone seeking out a momentary truce, a bond, in his arch nemesis’s office.
This sentence however, jostled Grissom, especially when the Dayshift referred to his own continuing, continuance, within their job, and not the Nightshift’s himself.
“Conrad, what do you mean?” Grissom said, putting on his glasses and glancing at the man while he began an absent shuffling of papers. If Ecklie was going to sit here at the start of his own shift, and use up his time, he might as well put on a show of getting something done. Something told him it was better to appear busy than to actually let the man feel like there was a deep personal connection being reached. His daytime counterpart always liked to feel as if he ruled the situation, and he disliked letting himself receive kindly intended and honest attention when he so obviously needed it.
Through straightforward eyes Ecklie faced the man behind the desk, staring at him with a look of stony faced blankness, betraying no emotion at all, which was perhaps the most honest look he had in his repertoire.
“In a few years my world changes again. And you, I don’t think Sara can stay here forever. And.”
The Dayshift mulled over the second, and, for a few seconds, rolling it about on his tongue like a fine wine before he chose to continue.
“And you’re bound to follow her. So that leaves me here, where I am, in the same place until I die.” Ecklie said, finishing on a sombre tone, but once more an honest one, nonetheless. Grissom was looking at him completely now from behind his glasses, his eyes briefly alive with the passion for something else, something, bigger, the same kind of passion he had lost in his childhood, and found in Michelle, only to be lost again. It was that fondness of life that annoyed him, and he snapped back in his chair, cool and calm, a slight glare settling itself across his eyebrows.
The answer came from Grissom after about a minute or so silence, but this was enough to have let the Dayshift’s already solid heart, become harder still. The moment of what might have been called personal sharing, had become irreverent in his mind, and he got up without a word, nodding an almost imperceptible goodbye before disappearing through the office door.
No doubt Ecklie would be fuming at him, a pointless anger roaring in his mind, before relenting to whatever it was he occupied his hours with before sleep. No doubt, the answer wasn’t what the man had wanted, but there was hardly anything he could give him, in words or physical objects, that could possibly please someone so tormented and lost. It seemed to Grissom, as he really got on with his paperwork, marching a steady way into one tricky pile in the left hand corner of his desk, that there was nothing that could have been said in that quiet moment, other than the affirmative, that would have been a suitable response.
He knew Ecklie was bound to Las Vegas in a different way than he was, maybe even on a slightly stronger scale, because Grissom knew he would never leave his home. Even if he hadn’t voiced it in so many words, only in a simplistic, “Yes.”, he also knew that what the Dayshift had said, was, for the time being, mostly true. While he might eventually break free, while Sara might eventually break free and together both of them would fly away from Vegas to continue on with the rest of their lives, Ecklie was stuck. He would be stuck in the same place as long as he lived, giving orders and finding new ways to be annoyed at people, because that was who he was, and unless by some grace that changed, he would remain that way, in the same place, until, in his own words, he died.