Spoilers:Way To Go
A/N: There’s a scene in Way To Go between Ellie and Warrick when she’s standing outside the hospital, she asks him, “does he ever talk about me?” Warrick just looks at her in silence. That scene prompted this story, a tiny window into an Ellie who may still care.
“What do you want from me? I went out there,” he heard her take a drag on her cigarette, “I stayed until I knew you were going to be okay.”
“I thought…maybe…maybe that you’d stay a little longer.” The admission, hard for him, hung twisting over the phone line.
“Jesus, Dad. What, you think you can get shot and we get to hang out? That the last ten years didn’t happen?”
From side to side he pondered the arrogance of youth; wondered if she really believed he got shot in an attempt to lure her to Vegas. A steel door began to slip down within him and he barely realized she was still talking.
“I hardly ever saw you. Not even when I was that six year-old kid in the picture on your desk. Those dirty cops and nasty drug dealers were more important than seeing me in the school play. Ironic, ain’t it?” The disdain in her exhale of smoke made its point three hundred miles away.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. But fathers can get pretty unreasonable when it comes to our daughters.”
“You don’t have to tell me that.”
His irritation grew as he realized he’d be better off banging his head against a brick wall, “How many times do you want me to apologize, huh? I know we can’t reverse the clock, Ellie. I know I screwed up, okay? But you know a little forgiveness goes a long way. I wasn’t the only person in the equation.”
One more try. “There was a time when you didn’t mind my company. Remember the day I took you out to Coney Island? Right before your mom and me broke up. We rode the Big Dipper until the park closed. On the way back to the car you picked some Dandelions and said they were your favorite flowers. I didn’t have the heart to tell you they were weeds.”
“Listen Dad, I’ve gotta go.” There was a pause and Brass wondered if she had hung up already, “Look, okay, I know…I know how I seemed to your guys, but I’m glad you’re okay. Okay?”
He squeezed his eyes shut.
“Okay.” The line disconnected and he dropped the receiver back in its cradle.
“Hands above your head and down on your knees. NOW.”
The suspect obliged. Brass kicked the perp’s gun away, holstered his weapon and pulled the man’s hands down behind his back with a fierceness he knew wasn’t justified. But his heart was bouncing off his ribs and his breathing was labored. And since when did cuffing a suspect become so goddamned hard? He slowed down and concentrated on his hands, hoping the uniforms backing him up wouldn’t see them shake as he finally fitted the cuffs and dragged the perp to his feet.
He pushed him towards Stevens. “Get him out of here.”
The officer nodded and led him away.
Brass sagged against the wall, reined in his breathing and wiped the sheen of sweat from his forehead.
Still struggling for air, Brass looked up, “Hey Gil. Female vic over in the corner.” He straightened up and pointed to a grafitti lined hallway. “Looks like he tried to have one last good time with her before we got here.”
Grissom turned in the direction of the dead body, stopped, and turned back to Brass.
“Your first take down since Willie.” Grissom stated it as a fact, not a question.
“Yeah. Who knew police work was this hard.” But he knew Grissom saw right through him.
“Why don’t you leave me one or two of your guys. You look tired.”
“Yeah, well the sun’s just about up anyway. I’ll just go back and get the paperwork started on this guy; then he can sit in a cell for a few hours more.”
Grissom nodded. “Sleep tight, Jim.”
Brass cocked an eyebrow at him, “No problem there. Still have a few Vicodin left.”
One of the good things about the desert heat was the lavender. Lining the walkway to his house, languishing in the deep heat of the summer sun, it was at its fragrant best. He unlocked the front door and stepped inside, grabbing the mail as he went. He sorted through it on his way to the kitchen, setting his things down on the island. Junk. A bill. His bank statement. Jim stopped when he got to a standard envelope. His address was written in Ellie’s perfect scrawl. He ran his fingers over the print, feeling the indentions the pen had made in the paper’s fibers. There was no return address. Intrigued, but with a steady hand, Jim tore the envelope open and pulled out two folded pieces of paper. He put one on the counter, unfolded the other, and began to read:
I told your friend Grissom that loving the grown-up Ellie was a lot harder than loving the six year-old Ellie. Part of that is down to me, too. But, you know, this is where we are now. I do what I do, and you still put the bad guys and good guys behind bars.
Life was simpler when I was six, even with mom screaming at you every second you were home and doing what she did when you weren’t.
I do remember that day, every second of it. I’ve enclosed something in this letter that I want you to put somewhere that you’ll see it every day
Jim put her letter down and picked up the other folded paper. He smiled as he unfolded it and saw the petrified green stem, crinkled yellow petals and hundreds of dried seeds still waiting in the pod.