"Ninth Card" (Grissom/OMC, 9/?, PG)Posted by snow_white on 2009.10.18 at 00:36
Yes, this update has been a long time coming and I’m very sorry…hopefully my regulars haven’t given up on me.
Title – Ninth Card
Author(s) - black_dahlia63
Characters – Gil Grissom, OMC
Rating – PG through NC17, specific rating will be given for each chapter.
Warnings – Extensive use of bad language, eventual smut, eventual Daddy!kink, angst throughout. That about covers it.
Disclaimer – the OMC is all mine, Gil and his colleagues belong to their creators. Sadly.
Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four Chapter Five Chapter Six Chapter Seven Chapter Eight
AN: Many thanks to bflyw for the wonderful banner...and to the always awesome elmyraemilie for beta reading/hand holding.
Also, Luke's 'cabin' exists - sadly, this is the only picture I have.
Countryside Animal Hospital - July 4th, 4.45 p.m EST
“Hey,” Michael said, leaning forward and poking two fingers into the cage; he ran them over orange fur that was now distinctly cleaner and less matted, and when an audible purr rumbled through the cat’s body the young man’s face lit up. “Damn, you hear that?”
“He’s a little fighter,” the nurse replied; she wore her long blonde hair in a ponytail, and her pink scrubs clung to her petite form. “Aren’t you, Oscar? Dr. Wilson says we’ll probably be able to move him out of Intensive Care and into one of the regular cages soon,” and she moved to within a hand’s breadth of Michael. “He’s going to need a lot of looking after once he gets home, you know,” and Luke rolled his eyes, because this girl hadn’t stopped looking at Michael since she’d let the two of them in ten minutes previously; she hadn’t been supposed to, she’d said through the door, what with it being a public holiday and all, but Michael had flashed a smile at her and the rest had been history.
“You offering to help?” Michael countered, and the look on his face said he was enjoying every moment of this. “Because – well, I’m not sure I’ll be able to manage at first -”
“Hey, Austin Powers,” Luke said, once he’d cleared his throat. “We have that publicity shoot to do at the barbecue in half an hour, you know,” and he removed his Marlboros from his pocket. “You’ve got the time it takes me to smoke one of these, and then I want you outside,” and he headed for the reception area with Michael’s laughter echoing behind him.
“So you’re taking that fuzzy little money pit home with you, are you?”
“What? No,” Michael said, directing his habitually cheeky smile at his boss. “I can’t have pets - it’s in my lease. She doesn’t know that, though.”
“You used an injured animal to -?”
“I resent that,” was Michael’s response. “She’s coming down to meet me after her shift ends in an hour and a half, but that’s just my natural charm,” and he grinned broadly as he fastened his seatbelt. “I was thinking, you know -”
“Why don’t I like the sound of that?”
“We could keep him in the shop,” Michael said. “You know, once he’s well enough to leave the hospital and all – well, you practically live there, so it’s not like he’d be alone that much -”
“You little wiseass,” Luke replied, turning the key in the ignition and steering the Hummer out of the otherwise-empty parking lot; but he had to bite his lip to keep from smiling, and judging by his passenger’s smirk he wasn’t sure he’d been entirely successful. “All the machinery and tools we’ve got in there, he wouldn’t last a week – you think I want to just piss away however much he ends up costing me?”
“Thank you,” Michael said, the words hard to make out over the radio. “I know I’ve said that already, but – well, I meant what I said about taking it out of my wages -”
“Okay, stop right there,” Luke told him. “I’m not taking your money, and we’ll figure something out about the cat -”
Midas, Luke thought rebelliously, recalling the moment earlier that afternoon when he’d realized that “being with us for a week” had only referred to Intensive Care and not to actually leaving the hospital. Second Mortgage, even - but what he said aloud was, “We’ll work it out, stop worrying – you want some coffee? We’re coming up to that Denny’s, I can pull in at the drive through.”
“Coffee’d be cool. I’ll have a slice of coconut cream pie, if they’ve got any.”
“Jesus fucking Christ - you got a tapeworm or something?”
Daytona Beach, 7.30 p.m EST
“Second place this time,” he said, grabbing a napkin and wiping sauce from his mouth. “You’re creeping up the list, aren’t you?”
“Year by year, cher,” Jonah replied, with no little hint of smugness. The Fourth of July barbecue contest, which had been set up at Daytona Beach long before Luke had opened his shop and which attracted dozens of contestants every year, was something Jonah started preparing for weeks in advance; his entry this year had been jumbo shrimp, marinated in a sauce whose contents he’d refused to divulge, and the silver medal he’d earned was now hanging round his neck. “Looks like the apprentice is doing okay for himself.”
“Don’t call him an apprentice,” Luke said with a grin as he looked over to where Jonah was pointing; Michael stood several yards away, one arm round the waist of the young blonde from the animal hospital as they carried on an animated conversation. “He’d beat your ass,” and the two men chuckled. “I think he’s going to turn out a whole lot better than the other jack-offs I’ve hired,” and Luke reflected that there was no ‘think’ about it. Michael had started evening classes two nights a week, and was also picking up skills from the rest of the crew with almost frightening speed; if there’d been anybody born to work with bikes, it seemed, it was him, and it hadn’t escaped Luke’s attention that the habitual “new trainee” envelope hadn’t made its way around the shop.
A flashing light caught his attention, and when he looked up he saw a police car making its way slowly along the crowded street. Just putting in an appearance, that’s all it was; apart from the occasional lost child nothing ever really happened on the Fourth around here, because it was all families – not like downtown Daytona or Jacksonville, that was where you could expect trouble once the serious drinking started…
…then his mind went back to an afternoon seven months previously, when he’d been helping Nick and Greg move into their new place. He’d had one end of a dresser while Warrick had had the other, the two of them managing to scrape skin off their knuckles as they maneuvered the heavy piece of furniture into the master bedroom; and as they’d been putting the drawers back in, he’d asked Warrick - just to make conversation - how crazy it really got in Sin City. “It’s crazy all the time,” Warrick had told him cheerfully. “Wait until Christmas or the Fourth of July, that’s when it gets scary -”
“I said, you want a drink?” Jonah asked, an amused lift to one of his eyebrows. “I’m about burning up here.”
“I’ll have a Pepsi,” Luke told him. “I’ll be back in a minute – I need to make a phone call.”
Las Vegas, 4.10 p.m PST
His cell was ringing as he emerged from the shower, and Gil – having hastily wrapped a towel round his waist – moved swiftly to sit on the edge of his bed and lift the phone from its resting place on the nightstand.
“It’s Luke - did I wake you up?”
“No, you didn’t,” he replied, feeling a smile slowly spreading across his face. “Is that music I can hear? Where are you?”
“On the beach,” came the answer. “They have this big-ass party down here every year – we were in the parade this morning, and then we just kind of ended up down here because Jonah was entering the barbecue contest.”
“How did he do?”
“Second, and he came fourth last year, so he’s pretty pleased with himself.”
“He should be,” Gil said. “I bet there’s some fierce competition. Any news on Oscar? How is he?”
“Expensive, that’s how he is,” Luke replied, the tone of his voice saying that although he might sound cross he wasn’t really. “He’ll be out of intensive care soon – we went to see him this afternoon, Michael sweet-talked the nurse into letting us in even though they were closed for the Fourth,” and there was a brief silence. “Okay, look, I know you’re probably getting ready for work, but – well, I wanted to call and tell you,” and Luke cleared his throat, “to – uh – be careful at work tonight.”
“To be careful?”
“Yeah, because – well, Warrick told me that’s when it gets scary out there, because it’s a big holiday. So – you know, look after yourself.”
“I will,” Gil said, feeling the smile spreading inside him now. “What do you have planned for the rest of the night?”
“I think I’ll head home pretty soon,” was Luke’s response. “It’s been a long week, and Jonah says an early night won’t kill me.”
“He’s right,” Gil said. “Can I call you tomorrow?”
“Sure,” Luke said. “Try the shop first, because I need to get that bike finished to ship out to Dubai in a week’s time and there’s a ton of stuff I still need to do to it.”
“I’ll do that,” Gil replied. “Happy Fourth of July, Luke,” and after a moment’s pause there was a quiet you too, Gil and the line went dead. Rising to his feet, he removed his towel and dried himself briskly; and as he moved to where he’d laid out his clothes, he found himself humming softly.
Geneva, Florida, July 14th – 7.15 p.m EST
He invariably came down to the cabin the day before he threw a party there; it’s because you’re too stubborn to let anyone help you get ready, Jonah always said, and Luke always laughed and agreed with him even though it wasn’t true.
The real reason – one that he’d never explained to anybody, mainly because he wasn’t sure they’d understand – was that, despite the fact that he threw several parties like this every year, they weren’t easy for him. Sure, he was surrounded by people he cared about, and the cabin was one of the few parts of his life that the outside world didn’t get to see; but there was always a point at which it became too much, when he would retreat to the tree house and lie on the bed that took up the entire upper room while music and laughter echoed upwards. Because no matter what he had made of himself, there was always someone else at his core – the boy who’d sat white-faced and silent during a plane journey to Virginia, his eyes burning with unshed tears at the knowledge that his family didn’t want him – who kept telling him that nothing he wanted lasted for ever.
This party was going to be even harder to get through than the others; he only had to look in the back room of the main house to realize that. He’d brought the Hummer up here instead of one of the bikes, so that he could bring his amp and guitar with him as well as Zack’s drum kit; they sat in the back room now, and for the previous two years – ever since he’d bought Max a custom-finished Assassin just like the one he owned himself – there’d been a coffin-shaped guitar case in the back room too. Max and Ben had always come up the day before the party with their parents, fighting over who got to light the tapers that lined the driveway or running to one of the adults every five minutes with increasingly lurid statements.
“He said he’d push me in the pool and drown me!”
“Mom, can you tell jerko here not to touch my amp again? Otherwise I’ll kick his ass!”
“I should have cancelled the fucking thing this year,” he said aloud, and there was a thump-thump on the deck in response. “You think so too, huh?” he said, reaching to scratch Wolf’s head. “Yeah, you’d like that, wouldn’t you? This time tomorrow night you won’t be anywhere near here – go on, knock yourself out,” he went on, getting to his feet, and he hadn’t even turned away before the dog began attacking the almost-untouched steak he’d left on his plate.
He crossed the yard to the tree house and climbed the steps to the first floor, with its shelves of first edition Stephen King books and a framed photo of his grandfather; a small CD player sat on one of the shelves, and he switched it on before climbing the four steps that brought him to the upper room.
“I heard there was a secret chord/That David played and it pleased the Lord…”
Leonard Cohen’s gravel-laden voice filled the tree house as Luke stretched out on the bed, staring up at a tiny spider making its way across the underside of the tin roof. He did this for some time, and then he lit a cigarette – and as he exhaled a stream of smoke, his throat tightened.
He shouldn’t let this get to him, he knew he shouldn’t. He’d called Faith the day after he’d hung up on her, and she’d forgiven him; she’d cried, too, which had made him feel an even bigger asshole - but none of it changed the fact that twenty four hours from now he was going to be hosting a party and four of the people he most wanted to be there would be missing.
If he’d been back in Daytona now, he could have driven round to Jonah’s place; it never seemed to matter what was going on there, Jonah was always pleased to see him. He was the closest thing to a real friend that Luke had, if he thought about it - someone who’d known him when he was just a grease monkey with barely two cents to rub together, someone who treated him just the same now that he had three houses and a TV series – and he knew that if he went there now he’d end up in the kitchen or the den with a mug of coffee while he and Jonah put the world to rights. But Daytona was the best part of an hour away, and besides he had a bunch of stuff to do here –
- Gil’s awake now, Luke thought, and he was enveloped by that slightly off-balance feeling again; but this time he made no attempt to analyze it or fight it off. Sitting up again, he reached for his cell and then headed downstairs – because years of experience had taught him that unless he sat on the porch of the main house, cell reception wasn’t worth shit.
Las Vegas, 4.40 p.m PST
Gil had showered and dressed before reheating the remains of the previous night’s takeout, which he was now eating at the kitchen table while the radio station he favored played softly in the background. It was a routine he’d followed for as long as he could remember, deriving comfort from the familiarity despite the solitude that came with it - but the fact that he kept looking at his cell was a mute testament to the fact that for some time now, the old routine was slowly being replaced by a different one.
Sitting at his kitchen table, his half-eaten meal in front of him, he thought about what Luke was doing now. He’d be at the cabin, because the party was less than a day away now; and from the way Luke had studiously avoided mentioning it whenever they’d talked during the previous week and a half, Gil knew how heavily it must be weighing on his mind –
- and that was when the cell rang. Of course, it could be work, coming this close to the start of his shift; but when Gil picked it up and saw the Florida area code, something lurched gently inside him and he smiled.
“Hey,” came the answer. “Are you busy?”
“Not yet,” Gil said. “How’s everything in Florida?”
“Oh, you know – same shit, different day,” Luke said before launching into a monologue about work and that fucking cat, which was apparently a week or so away from leaving the animal hospital; Gil listened without adding more than the occasional comment, because he’d interviewed too many suspects not to recognize tension when he heard it in someone’s voice.
He’d half-expected a call this evening, but he hadn’t been prepared for how it was making him feel. It was making him want to call in sick, to get on the next plane to – where? Sanford, so that he could go to the cabin? Or to New York, so that he could confront the brother-in-law whose behavior had saddled Luke with more self-doubt than he already had? Gil didn’t know, but he knew it wouldn’t be feasible to do either of them; all he could do was let Luke talk, and hope that whatever he said in response would make a difference.
“- so yeah, they told me it could leave maybe next week,” Luke said. “Shit, I already told you that, didn’t I?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Gil told him. “I’m glad you called, Luke - I’ve been thinking about you. You’re out at Geneva tonight by yourself, aren’t you?”
“That obvious, is it?” Luke replied. “Yeah, I’m out there, and I wish I wasn’t, okay? Ah, fuck, I’m sorry, Gil this isn’t what you want to hear -”
“What do you think I want to hear?” Gil asked. “Do you remember what I said when you phoned me after Jonah’s party?”
“No,” was the answer, and Gil suspected this was probably not true – in the same way he suspected that Luke knew why he was making this call to Vegas but would never admit it. “What?”
“I said I wanted to know who you were,” was Gil’s answer. “That means good and bad, Luke – you don’t have to be happy all the time.”
“Well, I guess not,” Luke said. “But I’m bitching at you when you’re probably trying to get ready for work because I’ve got about four dozen people coming, including Jackson and his mom and dad – and I’m sitting here wishing I’d called the whole thing off, just because four people can’t come. Pretty stupid, right?”
“It’s not stupid,” Gil replied, choosing his words with infinite care. “Those boys mean a lot to you,” and the sigh that echoed from the other end of the line made him close his eyes – what could he possibly say that would make this any better? “And I know it isn’t going to be the same without them there, but there’ll be a lot of people there who’ll be glad to see you tomorrow night. Who else is coming?”
“Ah, Christ, let me think,” was the response. “There’s the guys from the shop and whoever they bring, which is about a dozen people - there’s Rosa from the restaurant and her family, which is about another dozen right there,” and Gil fancied that a hint of brightness was creeping into Luke’s voice. “Plus Jackson and his mom and dad, the guy who runs the only pizza place that delivers all the way out here, the vet and her son – just a bunch of ordinary guys, you know what I mean?”
“Yes, I do,” Gil said, telling himself that a bunch of ordinary guys was exactly what Luke needed. “How long has it been since you’ve seen Jackson?”
“Too fucking long,” and although Gil winced at the swearing, he had to smile at the evident affection in the words. “His dad made partner just before Christmas, and they haven’t been able to get out here since January.”
“It’ll be good to see him again, then,” Gil said. “You’ll have to make sure you take lots of pictures.”
“Oh, yeah – Max already made me promise I would, don’t worry.”
“Would you think about sending me some too?”
“Yes,” Gil responded, a smile quirking his lips. “Please.”
“Well, I guess I could,” came the answer. “Listen, I should let you go – you probably have to get to work, and I have a shit-load of stuff to do here, so -” and there was a brief silence before he continued speaking. “Thanks, Gil.”
“You’re welcome,” Gil said gravely. “Have a good time,” and he ended the call; he slid his feet into his shoes and hastened to pick up his car keys, still smiling as he did so, and somehow the fact that he was going to be late for work if he didn’t break the speed limit on the way didn’t seem to matter.
Geneva, July 15th, 6.15 p.m EST
“Okay, last one,” he said, and he watched as his nephew reached up to light the taper to the right of the gate. “Let’s have that back,” and he held out his hand for the battered Zippo. “I say we grab something to drink with your mom and dad before the others start arriving – did you bring your sketch pad?”
“Not this time,” was Jackson’s response as he followed his uncle back up the driveway towards the cabin. “Mom and dad bought me a camera for getting straight A’s on my last report card. How old were you when you started smoking?”
“Never mind how old I was,” Luke replied smartly; he hadn’t been much older than Jackson, who was now thirteen and a half, but he didn’t see any need to tell him so.”Hey, you feel like being the official photographer this evening?”
“It sucks that Max and Ben aren’t here,” Jackson muttered, coming to a halt and shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans. “Max was gonna show me some cheats for Soul Calibur on my PSP.”
“I know it sucks, buddy,” Luke said as he laid a hand on his nephew’s shoulder. “I wish they were here too.”
“We got invited to Connor’s party, and I told mom and dad I wanted us to come here instead,” was the answer. “I don’t like how Connor looks at me when we go to see him.”
“How does he look at you?”
“Like the kids at my last school did,” and Jackson shuffled the toe of one of his VANS sneakers in the dirt as he spoke. “’Cause of my face and my hearing aid, yeah? And you guys don’t do that when I come here.”
“Of course we don’t,” Luke relied, placing an arm round the boy’s shoulders to hug him awkwardly, thinking you little asshole, Connor at the same time. “I hope you told your mom and dad about that.”
“Yeah, I did,” Jackson said. “Dad cussed, and I never heard him do that before.”
“Well, nobody f – messes with his boy, do they?” and when he was rewarded with a lop-sided smile Luke felt the tightness in his chest loosening. “So are you going to take pictures for me tonight?”
“Can I put some on Facebook?”
“Yes, you can, but I say which ones,” Luke said. “Do we have a deal?” and he held one hand out palm upwards, grinning when it was slapped. “Come on, I have to fill the bathtub with ice, and I need you to help.”
He leaned against one wall of the bathroom, popping the tab on a Pepsi and tilting it to his lips before draining the contents; sweat was plastering his hair to his forehead and running down the back of his neck, making him realize that he really needed to put a ceiling fan in here as well as in the bedroom upstairs.
Setting the empty can down, he plunged his hands into the roll top bath that was half full of water and melting ice. He kept them there for a moment or two before lifting them out again and pressing them against his face, closing his eyes in pleasure; the sound of his guests’ voices reached his ears through the screen door, along with that of Zack singing to the accompaniment of someone’s guitar – and although Luke knew that someone would come and drag him outside again soon, he was content to stay in here as long as he could.
“Hey, you,” a voice said from the second floor of the house, and when he looked up Molly was coming down the stairs. “Well, Remy’s finally asleep - what are you doing in here?”
“Needed a drink,” he said, glancing into the kitchen and recalling how Ben had fallen asleep under the table the summer he’d turned four – and something must have shown on his face even though he hadn’t said anything, because when Molly drew level with him she reached out and hugged him.
“They’ll be here again soon, cher,” she murmured in his ear before she stepped back again. “You coming back outside?”
“Yeah, I’m coming,” Luke told her, managing to smile as she turned to look at him again “Fuck, it’s hot,” he muttered, peeling his shirt over his head before dropping it on the floor, and his smile became genuine when he heard Molly chastising him for cussing in front of her before she led the way outside.
Applause was breaking out from the crowd gathered around the deck at the back of the cabin as Luke padded to join them, barefoot and shirtless; he leaned against a tree, removing his Marlboros from his pocket and lighting one as Zack stepped down from the deck and Jonah took his place in front of the mike.
“I’d say this one was for my wife, but I’d probably be sleepin’ outside tonight if I did,” the Cajun said as he strummed a few familiar chords, provoking a response of “You bet your ass you would” from Molly and laughter from the rest of the audience – and Luke’s smile widened, because he knew what was coming even before Jonah began to sing.
“Delia, oh Delia, Delia all my life,
If I hadn’t have shot poor Delia I’d have had her for my wife,
Delia’s gone, one more round, Delia’s gone…”
1.55 a.m, EST
He lay in bed with the covers thrown back, stripped down to his boxer shorts – even at this late hour and with the window open, it was still hot – and allowed his ears to pick up the sounds outside. The music had stopped half an hour since, but not before he’d been persuaded to sing a handful of songs with the impromptu band that had been formed that evening; all he could hear now was a quiet murmur of voices and occasional laughter, along with the occasional croak from the bullfrogs that inhabited the pond.
It had been a good evening after all; even though he’d still missed Max and Ben and their parents, he’d been surrounded by people who cared about him – and the feeling was reciprocated, he reflected, even though he probably didn’t show it as much as he should…
You were right, Gil, he thought, sitting up, and his cell was in his hand almost before he realized what he was doing. He dialed a number he knew by heart now, telling himself that the reception sucked up here and the call probably wouldn’t go through –
- but a few seconds later, the voice of the man who’d helped him get through the party was explaining that he couldn’t take calls at the moment and inviting him to leave a message.
“Uh – hi, Gil,” Luke said. “I – well, I wanted to let you know things went okay tonight. I think there’s about half a dozen people sleeping over, and we’re going to IHOP for breakfast when everyone wakes up – so I guess I just wanted to thank you. You know, for letting me talk about it and all. Oh, and I got some pictures, too, so I’ll send you some when I figure out how,” and he cleared his throat. “Well, I’m going to sleep soon, so – take care, okay?” and he snapped the phone shut again. Rolling onto his side, he closed his eyes and almost immediately fell into a deep sleep he would not wake from until almost noon.
*READERS PLEASE NOTE – the subsequent chapters of this fic are going to be f-locked to my personal journal, so add me to your flist if you want in. Anyone following this without an LJ account, shoot me a message and we’ll work something out. Kthnx.*