?Of course, Gil. You did not have to ask. Of course, he can stay. I need to figure out sleeping?we don?t have another bed downstairs. He?ll need toys; bring his favorite toys. A picture of his mother. Has he ever been away from his mother?? She paused briefly. ?Oh, Gil, he?ll miss his mom, I know he will. Where is he now?? He knew tears were in her eyes.
?I meet with the lawyers tomorrow?Sara, I could not refuse her request.?
She agreed, and after both asked more questions, laughed at their answers, they said goodbye. Grissom remained leaning against the barricade thinking about twins; Sara sat in her car making a list of needs for a little boy arriving in a strange house, her earlier apprehension and panic forgotten.
Sara quickly organized her thoughts into actions. A childhood in foster care had prepared her for a new child coming into her home more than pregnancy had prepared her for parenthood, she thought. She purchased a new blanket, a toothbrush, new pajamas, a book, and other things appropriate for a little boy in new surroundings. She found a solution for a bed in camping equipment?a temporary solution, but one that would work until they could buy a real one.
While retrieving her daughter, she shared her double news with her mom and the friends living with her. Sara, Grissom, and Bizzy had become a familiar and accepted addition to the quiet, secluded life of the religious community, and the happiness of the Grissom family added an additional level of joy to each individual. The prospect of not one, but three more children was cause for a celebration and food appeared within minutes. Shared concerns meant more minds at work and quickly, most of Sara?s were discussed, ideas shared, and, while everything was not settled, her uneasiness about the immediate future was lessened. The confidence and support they expressed buoyed Sara?s own belief that having Eli would add another layer to their lives. Warrick Brown had thought of Gil as the father he never had; this was repayment of Warrick?s trust.
?The next morning Grissom made one stop before meeting with attorneys and Tina. He was surprised when the little boy left his mother and took his hand. If there had been a teary goodbye, neither reverted to it as Tina left the room. Instead, the child looked at Grissom with wide green eyes and opened his hand revealing a small car. Grissom reached into his pocket and brought out a similar toy car. Will smiled. A small collection of belongings, including a car seat had been delivered to the outer office.
Grissom and Eli shared a meal at a chain restaurant familiar to all children. The little boy talked, using a vocabulary that surprised Grissom, but asked nothing about his mother. Obviously, he had been left in the care of adults before this or he was too young to be fearful in a new situation. Grissom called the lab, asking for Catherine.
When the two arrived at the lab, Judy, the long-term greeter and message taker of the CSI lab, met both with hugs and kisses. She had never met Eli, but knew immediately who he was.
?Catherine is coming?she called saying you were coming, but she didn?t say you had Eli.?
?That?s okay, Judy. We?ll let her be surprised.? Grissom said as he settled into a chair, took Eli into his lap and looked around. Catherine had not changed much since he left this place. Her office remained very work-centered, almost sterile, except for a few photographs behind her desk. Eli played with his cars, rolling one along Grissom?s arm, oblivious to any worry or concerns of the man who held him. *7
The air moved around them, and Grissom knew without looking that Catherine had arrived. He did not attempt to stand as she swept into the room, talking on her phone, clipping words, passing orders to someone, until she was inside the office and saw who was waiting for her. Her words stopped and the phone dropped from her ear.
?Gil,? she whispered as she knelt on one knee, ?you have Eli.? She, too, had kept up with Warrick?s child, but always at a distance.
?Hey, Sweetie.? She touched the child?s face. ?You are one cute guy! How in the world did this happen? Tina has always been so?so uncooperative.? Catherine pulled a chair next to them. The boy looked up at Catherine and smiled. Her hand went to her mouth. ?Oh, Gil, he looks so much like Warrick.?
Eli handed one of the cars to her.
Grissom said, ?He?s going back with me, Catherine. That?s what the meeting was about?Tina has married a guy who is going to Asia?China?for six months. They don?t want to take Eli.? He shrugged. ?What was I supposed to do??
?She?s left him with you, just like that??
?Does Sara know??
Grissom chuckled. ?Yes, she knows. You know Sara?she?s already in major prep mode.? His hand raked through the little boy?s hair. ?I don?t think Tina is coming back for him.?
?No, that can?t be true?how could she leave him like that??
?I saw it in her eyes. Today, when she left, she never looked back?how many parents can do that? She left a big duffle bag, a small suitcase, and a car seat. I think that?s everything he has.?
Catherine?s eyes filled with tears. ?How can a mother do that? To a child? It?s abandonment, Gil.?
?Not for six months. She signed temporary guardianship papers, and the attorney is adding Sara?s name to the paperwork. I?ll be the first one surprised if she returns. She?s planning a new start with a new man and doesn?t want the reminder.? He nodded to Eli.
The two old friends talked of the past, remembering the father of the child who had nestled against Grissom?s chest and dosed.