Title: COMMUNICATION

Author: Michmak

Summary: Terri Miller is back, and talking to Grissom.

Disclaimer: The only characters I own are the ones I create for the purpose of this story. All the rest? Not mine.

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There was something about him that was familiar. It took Terri a few minutes to place him, but when she did she smiled. Gil Grissom. She hadn't seen him in - what? - eight years. Straightening her skirt nervously, she approached his table.

"Gil."

He didn't look at her, not right away, and she wondered for a moment if he was going to ignore her. That wasn't like him at all, but she had been rather cold to him the last time they had spoken. She regretted that now, but at the time she had felt she was making the right decision. Shifting on her feet uncomfortable, she cleared her throat and tried again.

"Gil Grissom."

His startled blue gaze met hers over the top of his menu, his eyes narrowing slightly as he tried to place her face, before a smile broke across his features, "Terri Miller?" He quickly folded the paper he had been holding, and indicated for her to sit. "What are you doing here?"

She smiled at him, "Guest lecturer at the university - one year term. I started last month. I've been meaning to call you, but -"

Grissom was watching her intently, and Terri felt a familiar warmth build in her system, "But."

Terri shrugged, "Yeah. I'm surprised to see you here. Are you waiting for someone?"

"Actually, yes I am," he looked at his watch suddenly, and smiled fondly. "Two someone's. And they're late."

"I never pegged you as a Pizza Hut type of guy."

"Well, things change. But I didn't exactly choose the location." His tone was wry, and his eyes drifted to the main entrance again.

Terri took a moment to let her eyes drift over him. He was a lot greyer, a little softer around the middle, but his eyes were just as blue as they had ever been. And his face, which had always shone with a keen intelligence, seemed more open than she remembered it. He seemed happier.

"How's work been?" Terri asked, repeating herself when Grissom didn't respond right away. He had dragged his eyes away from the doorway, looking at her absently before responding, "I'll never be out of a job."

Terri smiled at the familiar joke, "Tell me about it. I've had some interesting reconstructions to do since the last time we saw each other."

"More interesting than the headless gorilla?"

"Well - almost as interesting. I was over in Egypt for a few months last year, helping reconstruct the faces of Imhotep and his queen - at least, they say it was Imhotep. Of course, after all these centuries who really knows for sure?" She kept her tone light as she spoke with him. She had always regretted the way she had brushed him off so many years ago, and had been trying to build up the courage to call him since she had discovered she would be returning to Vegas and staying a year. Maybe they could pick up where they had left off - the casual flirting, which hadn't been all one sided, had been pleasant. Grissom was still an attractive and fascinating man, for all that he was married to his work, and Terri had learned over the years that having a little bit of someone was better than having no one at all.

She contemplated all this as they spoke about old cases; interesting discoveries. Grissom's gaze never once left her face the whole time they were talking, and Terri was inordinately pleased with this. He was obviously still attracted to her, and she felt herself preening under his undivided attention. After they had spoken for about 20 minutes, she looked at her watch.

"It looks like you've been stood up," she smiled, "Would you care to have dinner with me."

Grissom looked startled at this invitation, as if their whole conversation thus far hadn't been leading up to this moment - the tentative questions, the long looks. He flushed uncomfortably at Terri's suggestion and shrugged.

"They'll be here."

Terri tried not to look annoyed at this, instead smiling brightly. "Who are you waiting for that you're so confident they'll show up? I mean, we've been sitting here 20 minutes and you were already waiting before I arrived."

Grissom smiled, "I'm waiting for my family."

"Family? You're married?" Terri quickly tried to mask the shock on her face, hide the incredulous tone of her voice at this piece of news, and her eyes darted quickly to his hands. "Where's your wedding ring?"

Grissom looked at his hand blankly, before turning back to her. "Must have left it in the bathroom this morning. Sara hates it when I do that."

"Sara? Sara Sidle?" Terri squeaked.

Grissom smiled, eyes glowing, "The one and only." His gaze narrowed as he focused on Terri again, "You didn't know I was married?"

"Uh - no. Hadn't heard that. Congratulations - how long..uh, when did you get married?"

"Six years ago."

"Wow."

"I still say that." Terri had to smile at the wry tone in Grissom's voice and the bemused look on his face when he said this.

"I thought you looked - happier," she said softly. She sat silently for a few moments, contemplating this unexpected news. She had never really thought Grissom was the type of man who would ever marry - he had always seemed more interested in blood and bugs then people, and that was one of the reason's she hadn't ever really given him a chance. She had wanted to find a relationship that would last, and she had envisioned Grissom as a bachelor for life. How wrong had she been? Here it was, Eight years later - and she was the single one.

She broke off her contemplations when she heard a childish voice squeal "Daddy!", and knew she was gaping when a little boy launched himself into Grissom's lap. The child couldn't have been more than 5, and if his head full of dark curls hadn't given away his parentage, his blue eyes would have. Terri felt her heart twist when she looked at him.

The child, of course, ignored her. Instead, he nestled in his father's lap contentedly, chattering away about the movie he had just seen, hands flying in every direction as he spoke. Looking up, Terri saw Sara standing there enjoying the picture her husband and son made before turning and smiling at Terri.

"Terri Miller?"

"Hi, Sara." Terri smiled weakly at the younger woman. "Congratulations," she offered weakly.

Sara grinned hugely and sat down at the table, "It's been what? Eight years since the last time we saw you?" She shrugged out of her sweater and draped it over the back of her chair. "Here on a case?"

Terri shook her head, "No - guest lecturer at the university for a year. I met a couple of my students here after class this evening to discuss their thesis. It's close to the residence building, and the coffee is decent." She touched her hair self-consciously, before adding, "I was surprised to see Gil here."

"Benjamin's favorite restaurant," Sara smiled fondly at her son as she stated the obvious, before reaching out and tapping Grissom lightly on the arm. He looked up at her and smiled.

"Sorry we're late. Movie lasted longer than I thought it would - there were twenty minutes of previews."

"I knew you'd be here sooner or later, especially with pizza monster here," Grissom responded.

Terri slid out of her seat, once again smoothing her hands nervously down her skirt. "I better get going - it was nice to see you again Sara - Gil."

Sara smiled, "You to, Terri. Hope your year here is enjoyable," she tapped Gil on the arm again, "Terri's leaving."

Grissom turned his gaze to Terri and frowned, "Wouldn't you like to join us for dinner?" On his lap, his son squirmed,

"Daddy, daddy, daddy." he whined.

Grissom ignored him, still looking at Terri.

"No - really. Enjoy your meal as a family -" she began, stopping when the little boy suddenly threw his hands up in front of Grissom's face, fingers dancing across his line of vision.

Grissom gently cupped his son's hands, admonishing gently, "Just one moment, Ben. You can tell me about it in a second."

Terri's eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "Was that sign language?" she asked, pieces clicking into place.

Grissom smiled, "Yes - he's quite good at it."

Terri looked at Sara, "And you always touch Gil before you talk to him if he's not looking at you?"

Sara nodded. Terri turned back to look at Grissom. "Are you deaf?"

Grissom shrugged, "Not fully. I can hear certain frequencies and tones."

Terri was shocked, "How did this happen?"

"Genetics," Grissom responded.

"I'm - I don't know what to say," Terri was flabbergasted. "How does this affect your work?"

Grissom smiled, "Not as much as you might think. We work around it, and I can read lips. My team all learned sign language as well - which is sometimes helpful if we need to communicate with each other without letting a potential suspect know what we are discussing." He noticed that Terri looked dismayed, and he murmured, "It's alright, Terri."

Benjamin sighed loudly and flashed something at Sara, which made her smile, "Ben, you can ask Terri yourself. Use your words - not your hands."

"Are you a friend of my daddy's?" the little boy studied her intently, his eyes bright.

Terri smiled. "I like to think so," she responded.

"You eating pizza with us?"

"No - not today," she looked at Grissom again, "but maybe we can get together for dinner sometime this year?"

Grissom nodded, "I'd enjoy that Terri. Your trip to Egypt sounds fascinating - I'd love to discuss it more."

Terri slid to her feet, nodding absently at Grissom before turning to Sara, "Nice to see you again, Sara." She wiggled her fingers at Benjamin in a quick goodbye, and slowly left the table, mind deep in thought.

Turning to look at them quickly before exiting the restaurant, she smiled when she saw the three of them in an active conversation, Grissom laughing at something Benjamin was telling him, Sara smiling indulgently as she signed something over Ben's head.

Terri's heart twisted slightly at the image - a family of three, communicating happily over dinner - words and hands telling stories; their eyes speaking volumes.

That had been her problem so many years ago with Grissom - she had never learned to communicate with him. And now, she never would.

~Fin~