Hodges waited silently at the door, and Greg pushed past the trace tech, embarrassed. It was unwritten code that neither would speak of the other's trips to the therapist. Nobody needed to know that either man was less than strong and stony.
A bubbly Riley Adams practically skipping down the hallway caught Greg offguard -- and caught him closing the door to Dr. Alwick's office. Riley stopped and eyed the door, clearly making the connection.
"Hi Riley," he replied, with an impatient edge in his voice. "What's up?"
"How is she?"
"The psycho lady." She stepped toward the wall, no longer blocking the hallway but instead standing next to Greg, in a rather amicable manner.
He raised an eyebrow. "Is Catherine giving you that hard of a time? Or has Grissom gotten in touch with his feminine side? Please don't tell me it's Ecklie --"
She laughed -- it was a full, unashamed laugh. She pointed to the door Greg has just closed. "Her."
He nodded in understanding, unsure of how to react. The way Riley spoke so casually about seeing a shrink was slightly disconcerting. He went there to divulge his deepest, darkest secrets. In theory at least.
He shrugged his shoulders. "Alright. I mean I was just -- I wasn't -- I didn't really need --" He was interrupted from his verbal stumbling by another laugh from Riley -- this one more of an understanding chuckle.
"It's all good. I know what you mean."
He nodded, though he doubted that she really did.
"I really do," she replied, as if reading his thoughts. "I've got two shrinks for parents. I know the drill. My chief childhood game was 'Let's see who can psychoanalyze Riley better." She said the 'game' in a high-pitched, crudely imitating voice.
"Wow. That really sounds like fun."
She laughed again, this one more hollow and sarcastic, though it was still genuine. "Absolutely. I mean, 'Capture the Flag' and jump rope versus Freud and Jung? No competition. Why teach myself hop scotch when even cooler tricks can be classically conditioned?"
He couldn't help but laugh at her own open, perverse admissions. She sold pieces of herself so easily, and with an affable laugh.
"Seriously. Between the two of my parents, I think I've been diagnosed with every dissociative, anxiety and attention disorder known to man. Also, when I was thirteen, they also decided that I was borderline psychotic. That was the standard diagnosis for a few specific days a month, every month, until I left the house."
"So what brings you there?"
He was, once again, caught off guard, but she saved him from responding again.
"Never mind. You don't have to answer."
"You like it though?"
He crinkled his brows, unsure yet again. Pleasure and therapy weren't items he had come to associate with each other. "It's... alright." He picked himself up. "There's candy," he said chipperly.
"Ooh nice." She rolled her eyes. "Most people get over selling their souls for a lollipop at 11."
He chose not to mention that most people weren't in therapy at 11 years old, nor that candy definitely retained its appeal past middle school. Blow pops had always been more than enough to keep an 11-year-old Greg Sanders engaged in anything.
She continued, unaware of his train of thought. "You, my friend, are still a kid at heart if you're still able to do it."
You have no idea, he thought, rolling his eyes. "I never said I took the candy."
"Open your mouth."
He looked at her incredulously. "What?"
"Open your mouth."
"Umm..." He stuttered, but not before she had leaned in and taken a whiff of his half-open mouth.
He pulled his head back in mock disgust. "What the..."
"I guess you didn't take a candy after all."
He chuckled, shaking his head in amusement. "No. No I didn't."
"Something with garlic?"
He laughed again, though he still wasn't sure if it was the humor or the awkwardness and strangeness of the situation that propelled it. "That sandwich place on Maple."
"You're a vegetarian?" she asked, puzzled.
"No. My friend Sara introduced me to it."
"Ah." Her expression was knowing. "Sara Sidle?"
He nodded, though it felt strange to talk about his best friend -- who was, technically also his mentor and, less technically, a sister in many ways -- to him, in such removed, objective terms.
"She's Grissom's girlfriend." It was half-statement, half-question.
"Yeah. Maybe. She was. I have no idea what she is now."
"She's his lover." It sounded like an announcement, which was odd since Riley didn't even know Sara.
"And you know this because..."
"Because Grissom loves her. And, based on what I've heard, she loves him too."
The logic was simple, but less than a perfect match.
"That lady irritated me."
"Ah." He nodded. "You went there?"
"No. I didn't even know Warrick."
"She probably said it doesn't have to do with Warrick though?"
Greg nodded, surprised at the astute -- and scarily accurate -- guess.
"Like I said, I know the drill. The stated cause is never the real cause for going in there."
He nodded. "Then how'd she annoy you? If you didn't even speak to her?"
"She confronted me when I got here. I accidentally stumbled into her office rather than Grissom's."
"Let me guess. You stumble in there and she immediately hands you a photo of a dead guy and asks you how that makes you feel?"
She laughed, and Greg knew that, this time, it was entirely because of his own humor. It felt good to be funny again.
"Well," he added, confidence already boosted. "We already know that I stumbled in there for the candy. Butterscotch has a memorable smell."
"Butterscotch?" she laughed, just repeating the word in amusement.
"Butterscotch." He paused for dramatic effect. "The food of therapists and grandparents."
"So a musky, old person smell."
"No! It smells good."
"I'll take your word for it. But if I ever have to smell any more of that stuff --"
He rolled his eyes. "Fine. But you'll have to deal with the smell anyways. It's in her office."
"Well then. Let her clean up the results of my insanity-enduced rampage when I get a whiff of that stuff. I'm like a werewolf during the full moon. Once that smell takes effect... I can't be held responsible for my actions," she said between a mouthful of giggles.
"I think vampire would be a more appropriate comparison. They respond specifically to smell."
"In that case, you could almost compare it to CSIs then. We respond to the smell of decomp."
"Yes," he replied, imitating a cheesy salesman with enthusiasm. "But decomp comes in a bountiful variety of diverse odors! I mean -- there's a huge difference between the musty, stiff smell of a fresh druggie and the more aquatic orafactory nuances of a swimmer! A fresh corpse always smells better."
Riley chuckled again at his fervor. "Butterscotch is still way worse."
"Is that so? Well, maybe I can steal the butterscotches from Dr. Alwick's office next time I'm in there and dispose of them as only an expert CSI can."
"Only if I can be a co-conspirator."
"You want in?" Greg spoke softly, leaning in.
Riley leaned in as well. "Definitely."
A shuffle of papers distracted them from the conversation. "Sorry," Nick mumbled as he almost crashed into the two younger CSIs -- whose faces were dangerously close to each other. They had really just been joking -- at least as far as Greg could tell -- but it made him nervous that Nick saw them that close.
Nick scooped up his papers and rushed off, somewhat distractedly, and Greg watched him go.
Riley seemed to read Greg's mind yet again, or at least to read his distraction. "Wanna plan the heist later?"
"Sure thing. Next break." Greg took a step back and crashed into the just-opened door to Dr. Alwick's office -- Hodges had just left.
"Sounds good," Riley said, laughing again, as Hodges stared questioningly between the two of them, clearly trying to unearth the joke. Riley just laughed again, this time more softly.
Greg hadn't been aware so many different types of laughter existed until he'd met Riley. Or, rather, if he'd known about so many types of laughter, he had forgotten them years ago.
STILL TO COME: THE BUTTERSCOTCH CAPER & A JEALOUS NICKY