Rock, Rattle and Roll

Chapter 7

Sara pulled into the lab parking lot at noon to drop off the evidence she had collected before returning to the hospital. As she hurried down the hall, she hoped she could get in and out without delay. No such luck.

"Sidle!"

"Yes, Ecklie" She replied in the same tone.

"You are not above the law!

"Excuse me?"

"There are Federal Laws this lab is subject to. Not only are you racking up more overtime than is humanly advisable, you aren't clocking out for breaks. The lab can get some pretty stiff fines for this. I'm not going to cover for you like… Well, go home. You're off tonight and for the next 24 hours."

"Are you serious?"

"This would not be a good time to get suspended for insubordination, when I'm already down one graveyard shift CSI."

Spinning on her heel, biting her tongue and clenching her fists at her side, Sara continued on her way out of the lab, fuming.

Stepping from the nearby doorway, Brass nodded, "Thank you, Conrad."

"Anytime, Capt."

"Hi Nick… Any news?"

"He's holding his own after the surgery this morning, and the nurse said the swelling is going down now. The surgeon is coming back this afternoon.

"What about the surgery?"

"The doctor said the tissue at the site of the bite is necrotizing, and has to be removed, similar to what would be done for burn patients. Dr Li asked them to wait a few more hours to see how much more the swelling will go down before they do any more surgery for the swelling... He should be back in 30 minutes to take more measurements."

Nick moved from the bedside to give Sara access, while he continued to talk, "Has anything else turned up on the case?"

"Not that I am aware of."

"Did you get any rest?"

Sara glared at him in response.

"Sara, why was Grissom involved in the fire ant survey, in the first place? I mean it wasn't a criminal case, was it?

"No, Jay and Susan had received several reports of a more aggressive strain of fire ants in this county. A family had stopped by the roadside so their child could have a bathroom break, and he got to close to a fire ant mound. He was bitten pretty severely, and in the process, the family dog was also attacked and died."

"Whoa, seriously?"

"Yeah, and then several golf courses and mini golf courses reported infestations of fire ants that are not native to this area. Jay contacted Grissom, who just can't refuse a good bug hunt," Sara smiled at Grissom as she said this and then continued, "He was trying to figure out what vectors could account for the distribution. At one point in their life cycle, fire ants are winged and will leave the original colony to start a new one. But they are not usually found in arid climates or this type of soil. How could they successfully colonize in so many diverse locations under such unfavorable conditions? We were comparing local winds, traffic patterns, and precipitation to see if we could figure out the distribution. Grissom was also trying to establish the stage of colony development, so the colony could be destroyed before the winged ants hatch."

"So why go after Grissom by sabotaging his car and sending him "get well" fire ants?"

"I don't know, Nick. It doesn't make sense to me yet."

"Well how many fire ant infestations are we talking about here?"

"About half a dozen that we know of… Two were major mounds, others were smaller."

"Would people ordinarily report run-ins with fire ants?" Nick asked.

"I don't think so. It's not like mandatory reporting of certain diseases!" replied Sara in a humorous tone of voice.

"How do they get rid of them if they are so numerous?" Nick mused.

"Probably call an exterminator, I guess. They are pretty dangerous and I think there are special ways to treat them. It is not like grabbing a can of Raid or ant bait that is going to stop them." Sara continued, "Susan said the exterminator was going to destroy the colony Griss was studying, this afternoon."

"Ugh! Just thinking about those suckers creeps me out!" Nick shivered. "Take care of yourself, Sara. I need to grab a few hours of shut-eye before shift tonight. Brass said he'd be by at five to stay with Griss for awhile."

Sara nodded as she turned her focus to Grissom. He definitely looked better even though she had only been gone a few hours.

Fatigue was catching up to her as she pulled the chair closer to the bed and placed her hands on the places Dr. Li had suggested before. She studied his face, and then the swelling on his arm. The monitors showed his heart beat and respirations to be steady. Tears welled in her eyes as she whispered, "I'm sort of glad you are not awake for this. I know you might be hearing what we say, but I sure hope you can't feel any pain. .. God Griss, the swelling looks … "She was going to say awful, but then what Doc Robbins told Greg about being positive came to mind. "… It looks better, but I bet it would, ah, hurt. You're going to have some pretty impressive scars, though no one will see the one on your thigh…" She blushed to think that Grissom might have someone looking at that one.

He looked so relaxed, well as relaxed as one can look with a tube down the throat for a machine breathing for you. The skin tone of his face was normal now that the mottling was gone. She focused on the monitor again watching the cardiac rhythm recording, and noting his temperature was normal. Sara was not a religious person, but she found herself praying for Grissom's sake that infection would not complicate his recovery. Exhausted she laid her head next to his pillow while maintaining contact, her eyes closed as she listened to the whirr of machine and inhaled his scent.

Her next awareness was of the presence of Dr. Li. She noted the acupuncture needles were not in the same position as they had been upon her arrival. "Uhhh…."

"No need to apologize, Sarah, both of you are exhausted. In the time you have been here, his stress level is much reduced as is the swelling in the arm."

Sara looked again at Grissom's arms. Dr. Li placed the chart on the bed so she could see the evidence for herself. It was undeniable. The slope of the graph representing the swelling in the arm was steeper than that for the thigh injury. "Why is the thigh less responsive?"

"Well for one thing, it's a larger muscle, so the bite was localized there. The bite to the arm posed the greater danger though, because so much of the venom was absorbed systemically. It is closer to the heart. More significantly, you were focusing your chi and his on the arm. Notice the electrical conductivity data. Now it is time to do so for the leg."

He moved the sheet slightly. Taking her left hand, he positioned her fingers on the corresponding site of the leg wound. The right hand he positioned on femoral pulse point just below the groin. Project your chi to increase the circulation in the legs for the next half hour. Imagine the blood bathing the injured tissue and washing the toxins away." He adjusted the position of some of the needles which had wires attached to them. "We are electrical beings, he spoke softly, and sometimes the flow of energy needs alternate paths to do the most good."

If someone had told Sara she would be assisting in an almost mystical form of treatment, her rational scientific mind would have had nothing to do with it. But this was Grissom. His open mind had accepted Dr. Li's science and she respected his choice. Even in a coma, Grissom was a teacher. Sara couldn't imagine not participating in such a healing technique if it would help Grissom. The transfer of energy was tangible to her- increasing her belief.

A half hour later, Dr. Li's technique appeared more western to her. He measured skin temperatures, electrical conductivity, and the diameter of each limb at half inch intervals above and below the wounds. As he plotted the points, the data was indisputable. "Sara, you are going to take a break now. It is time for you to rest and conserve your energy. We will apply one more treatment before his surgery at 3 pm."

As if on cue, a nurse entered the room with a cot, pillow, and light blanket. Placing it near the bed, Dr. Li guided her to it and encouraged her to lie down. Adjusting the bed close enough so she could reach comfortably, he placed her hand on Grissom's and dimmed the lights. Just before he left the room, he spoke, "Lead him into slumber," and the door closed silently.

A/N. I am humbled by the number of hits to this story and the encouraging reviews. Thank you for your support. I hope you like the direction this chapter went. I was concerned there was too much fact, but then again, one of the joys of CSI for me is learning new factoids. I just couldn't resist- it's the teacher gene, I guess! I wonder if anyone out there has figured out what the criminal's intent is. There are many clues in this chapter, and Nick will have a breakthrough in the next. I hope you got a chuckle out of Conrad being Conrad as well as a surprise that he might consent to being in cahoots with Brass to get a certain CSI to rest!