Smiles are a gift. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting such a gift that day. I was prepared to go to the conference, listen to a few less-than-interesting lectures and then go home to my own work and concerns. The first smile came when he addressed the assembly about poisons. I confess, I was amused since this was my area of expertise and I was thoroughly prepared to heckle in the fashion that scholars sometimes do with each other. You pose a question that you know the lecturer has no clue about and end up making them look like a complete buffoon. With this lecturer, however, I was pleasantly surprised that I was not given that opportunity. He knew exactly what he was talking about. His manner was thorough yet engaging and I could not resist the urge to seek him out after the conference. I waited patiently till most of the other attendees had gone when I could have a moment to speak with him, as one scientist to another.
“Thank you for your talk, Dr. Grissom,” with gratitude I extended my hand to him and he shook it firmly, ” I’m Dr. Frances Moira MacKay, but you can call me Fanny. It is a pleasure to meet you.”
Dr. Grissom extended a hand and smiled, “A pleasure to meet you as well, Fanny. Is that a nickname from childhood, may I ask?” he then paused and cocked his head thoughtfully, “Moira, Irish name of Mary… meaning bitter. I like it.”
“My nickname is from childhood, Aye, ” I answered, “Frances sounds so bloody old fashioned and pretentious, don’t you think? As to Moira, my mother gave me her own name as my middle name. I tend to think it was more after the name of Mary, than being bitter, ” I smiled. I shifted uncomfortably, for a moment and then turned the subject to why I decided to meet him after his lecture. “I see you work with law enforcement. I have from time to time as well on more of a consultant basis.”
He cocked his head and gave me a look of surprise. “You’re Scottish, ” he said matter-of-factly, “Francis is noble and has a meaning to match: ‘freedom’. I prefer it but can understand the personal preference for you. It’s seldom that you see such noble names such as Frances or Elizabeth used anymore. Coincidentally two of my favourite names.”
“Then you may call me Frances if you like, since it is a favourite of yours. ” I said.
“Moira…..” he said it as if ruminating over it, “I hope I didn’t offend you with the meaning. My mouth gets ahead of my thought process at times. The two have trouble keeping up with each other. Law enforcement are some of the people I work with. I would like to know more about how you assist through consultation, ” Dr. Grissom said, “Call me intrigued.”
‘Intrigued? ‘ Now, That was a word that I had not often heard used, and that alone was enough to cause me to smile back at him even more.
“I am an author, an ethnobotanist, and a bit of an occult expert – especially in symbology and indigenous ritual,” I explained, “you get a degree, write a few scholarly books and papers and then you get calls from this or that P.D. or even from the Feds because they want you to look at what they have and help them solve a case.”
He gave me a look that was intense as if he were observing every word I said and how I said it. If it had been anyone else, I might have been uncomfortable, but for some reason, he didn’t make me so.
“So….are you still intrigued,” I asked, “or have I made you roll your eyes and want to run the other direction yet?”
“Still quite intrigued,” he said. . I glanced about us and to my surprise, we were the last ones out of the lecture hall. It did not appear, however, that our conversation was anywhere close to being finished for he seemed in no hurry to go. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to know more. I hate to take up all of your time. And I know how precious time can be, especially when it is free.”
I not only smiled, I let out a genuine laugh. Here I was taking up his time and he was worried about taking up mine! I now felt very embarrassed, for my own sake, for considering heckling him. “I’ll tell you what, Dr. Grissom, I will make you a deal; I will be happy to tell you more about me and what I do, if I can find out more about you and what you do. Deal?”
He paused, giving me a look that resembled the expression of a deer in bright headlights. “I’m not very good at talking about me. I’m sure it infuriates my co-workers,” he said. the light of evening that shone through the windows of the lecture hall, ” You’d think living in Vegas that I would be better at making deals… playing the odds.” At last he quirked an eyebrow, his lips curling into a boyish grin “Just when I thought Frances with a Scot’s brogue couldn’t be any more intriguing. Yet I find that more intrigue waits around the corner,” he said, “Alright, Frances, you have a deal.”
Muse: Fanny Fae
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology / CSI (AU)
Word Count: 926
Special thanks to grissom_tm for the dialogue and feedback.