At Sara's house
There were fantasies and there were dreams.
Fantasies are born, live and die in the psyche. Their world is a constantly shifting panorama of a person's mind. Rules exist only to be broken. Anything could happen, and usually did.
Dreams, on the other hand, are born on the outside but live in the mind, for a while. But these have the power to leave the mind and become existent in reality. These would usually stay with the person until either their death, or their viability in the person's growth.
For Sara, having Grissom in her house had started out as a fantasy, forever the tenant of her mind. Somewhere along the way, it had transformed into reality without passing through the dream stage.
"Sara I'm a scientist I understand facts, things I can put my finger on, tangible things. I've never been good with people. You know that. I'm not going to be good in this."
Sara looked at him. He was looking straight ahead, into a different world. "You're not in this alone, Gil. As much as it has to do with feelings, it also has to do with trust."
"I don't understand people relationships. I always mess them up. I always hurt them. I don't know how not to. So I stay away. It's safer that way."
Sara regarded the man before her with a mixture of love and frustration and pity. There was love in her heart: love for a man who had followed his dream no matter the cost and in that way was living wholly, unimpeded. Frustration because she could see it so plainly whereas he was still in the fog and it seemed to her that he chose to stay in the fog. Pity because in so many ways he seemed like a child peering at the world through the keyhole of a room and seeing things and not understanding them and then being afraid to venture out and discover them. Investigating bugs was so much simpler than investigating human relationships.
Taking a deep breath, she decided on another tactic. "Grissom, how did you learn how to walk?"
"What?" he said, turning to face her with a puzzled expression on his face.
"Seriously. How did you learn how to walk?"
"Uh I just did."
"No. Think about it for a moment. As a baby, you would lie on the floor, or the playpen or whatever and everyone walked around you. Then you were crawled – cause you really wanted that toy over there. And then sometime later, you managed balance on two feet and then you managed balance on one foot while your brought the other one forward. After a while, you were taking steps. You wanted to walk like everyone else, so you practiced. You fell, you got hurt, but you got and did it again and again, until you were walking. And then you were running, hopping, skipping and jumping. And now it's as easy as breathing: you just do it. The point is: you wanted it so you tried and you got it. It's the same thing with relationships: you want it, you try it, you get hurt, hell you might even stub someone's toes, or walk into them, or fall on them, but after a while, you learn that delicate balance and then your practicing walking on beams as though you were a tightrope walker.
After a while, you learn the ins and outs of relationships. You're gonna hurt me, Grissom. It's a given. And I'm gonna hurt you, it's all in the game of being with people. But, because of what we share, we apologize, kiss the bo-bos, and mend the wounds and then try again. Until we get it."
He stared at her trying to decipher an actual meaning to her words. She was speaking in riddle, or so it seemed. Now, why did that make him feel just the tiny bit odd? She said he would hurt her. She had no idea. He could remember numerous times of women walking out on him, many times with a huff and puff and a look as though he'd dropped out of some gothic inquisition type drama, what with all the bugs tacked on a board behind glass. He had handled it then, though he couldn't really decide if the pain he felt was for himself at being left alone once again, or for the women who'd fallen for him only to find out who he really was and then been too icked out to stay and watch the drama unfold into the wholesome creature that Grissom was. But Sara had never looked at him that. Sure, she didn't love bugs as much as he did, but she'd followed him through swamps to decomposing bodies, examined bugs up close with him to find the evidence and sat and discussed the basic elements of human deterioration with him like it was some Saturday night movie drama: totally absorbing. He was, in actuality, in awe of this woman. So then, why was he hesitating. Because there was something else, something that hadn't been present during the other women. Something that made him less than a man, and therefore not good enough for Sara. With a heavy sigh, he met her gaze.
"Alright, here's the first pain." She needed to know this. "I'm going deaf, Sara."
The word hit her with the force of a punch to her chest, robbing her of the strength to draw in air. Deaf. He was going deaf. She scrunched up her eyebrows in thought. No more hearing. No more listening. He wouldn't be able to hear her she wouldn't' be able to talk to him, whisper to him during yell at him in anger. Deaf. And then just as it stopped, her breath came out of her body with a whoosh and her mind started up again, full throttle as it always did when something like this happened. She was not one to remain in limbo for long.
Her shrewd mind began putting the pieces together. "The sigh language"
"Yes" he said and smiled, a small one but there nevertheless. "My mother was deaf."
"Your mother" more pieces. "You got it from her?"
More clicks and chinks as the gears in her mind revved. "How far along is it?"
"I'm gonna need surgery. But it's not a guarantee."
Sara sat back into her couch and stared straight ahead as her mind digested this new and shocking revelation. So he was going deaf, he wasn't dying for crying out loud! And there was still surgery; there was still a chance. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly , she turned to him. "Anything else?"
And then it was Grissom's turn to stare at her. Didn't she think this was something bigger? "Uh, no. I don't think so. That was probably the biggest one."
"So there are smaller ones?"
"Well I'm sure they'll come out in time I can't think of everything in one night, Sara!"
"Well it's a start." And she leaned toward him, bringing her face close to his. "Thank you for sharing that with me. I know how hard it is for you to share yourself."
He looked down, ill at ease with the sudden openness of the situation. A butterfly doesn't emerge from her cocoon in one fell swoop, and neither could he. It would take time.
You know, we were close one time. Don't you remember the long talks deep into the night? Nights when I'd crash at your place, or you at mine cause it was too late to go anywhere or we were just too drunk to go anywhere? Do you remember that? I do. I miss them. They were there and they were fun and then suddenly, they stopped. Just petered out. Within a few weeks they were gone. And then you were gone. To Vegas. Just like that. And then that's when it really stopped.
And then you called. You needed an objective perspective in a case. So you called me. And I came. And then I stay. Why? Because you asked me to. Because I thought that whatever had happened in Frisco might have been only a stage and that maybe you'd come back. Maybe we might not have 2am conversations again, too drunk to speak properly, let alone find our way home. But no, nothing happened. You were a stone when you left and you were a stone when I came here. And unlike erosion, you seem to be regressing in time, becoming thicker!
The thoughts poured through her head as she watched him in her kitchen getting some water from her fridge.
Well, for three years I've stood back and watched you and waited until you were ready. I sat and waited, half a soul and half a person. I didn't think you'd ever come around. And now you're here, but you're not. And I'm confused.
He looked up at her from behind her half wall and caught her eye. Her heart lurched in her chest at the rawness so evident in his eyes. He stared at her, the glass forgotten in his hand.
"Remember before?" she said.
His eyes closed just a bit, not actually but the walls started building again. She could see him beginning to close himself off to her, again. A sudden surge of anger welled in her at his audacity. After all this?! And he has to go back to his walls again?? "I remember Frisco, Sara. Why?"
Well, at least he's not shutting the topic down."We were close, weren't we? I mean, all that time we spend together?"
He looked down at the glass in his hand and then downed the rest of the water. Then he rinsed the cup – it was only water! – before coming around to lean against the wall-post. "We were close, why?"
He was going to make this difficult."What happened?"
"What happened that we're here now like this and not like we were headed?"
His eyes closed, he took a deep breath and his head went down to rest on his chest. "So many things" she heard him say quietly. She strode up and sat on a stool by the half-wall.
"What things?" she asked him, just as quietly.
His head rose and the eyes that greeted her were filled with such pain as she'd never seen in his eyes before. It tore at her heart and the urge to go to him, press her palm to his face and try to erase the pain was so strong. But she stayed where she was and let him feel it, maybe in that way he could share some of it with her. "It was too fast."
She thought about that for a moment. Yeah, it was really fast. Within a few weeks the all-nighters at each other's house had begun. Spending days together, day after day, after waking up together again. But no sex. No, they had actually managed to skirt around that issue without even so much as a kiss. Sometimes the hangovers were so bad, they decided to stay in and watch the Discovery Channel until their eyes begged for release from the constant flickering lights. Then they would discuss what they'd just watched.
During the week, they would meet for lunch at the university cafeteria and sometimes even miss their class: the one she was taking and the one he was teaching. Yeah, it was fast. But they had both seemed to click so well together, she had assumed Ahh, and what is it that one gets when one assumes? An ass out of u and me. Perhaps she had really assumed erroneously "Yes, it was fast. I'll admit to that."
"I got scared. And then I got the job offer, and"
He joined her on the other stool, propping his feet on the crossbar, one elbow on the half-wall. She turned to face him. His head rested in his hand as he stared off at a distant point, his eyes growing distant.
"I miss those nights, you know." He finally said. "I'd think about them a lot. And sometimes I'd find my hand on the telephone, your number in my head." She could only stare at him in silent shock. "I missed you so much, I actually did call you, but only because there was a case that needed your attention." He shut his eyes, as though in pain. "No, actually, I needed you. I needed you back in my life again." He opened them and stared right at her. "So I got you to come to me in Vegas, then I got you to stay here all for me. And then" he looked away again, blinking heavily, his breath coming in quiet shutters. "I kept you at a distance. I wanted you near me, but not so much that I would lose myself again."
Lose himself. God, how did he know that's what it felt like for me too?"I can't stay here if you won't let me in, Gil."
His eyes shut tight. "I know I know."
"You know, it's okay to loose yourself in another person. Doesn't mean you loose yourself completely, just that you get really close to that person. You were never lost, Gil. You were always Gil Grissom and I was always Sara Sidle. So we had a lot in common and really enjoyed each other's company. That was fine, it really was. In time, it would have expanded to include other people, but you never gave it that chance. You got scared and you jumped ship on me. Just turned your back and walked away."
"I know." He said, the exasperation evident in his voice. He was silent for a moment, and she let him be. No use in deluging him with too much information. Yes, there was still anger in her, yes she was still hurt by his pseudo-abandonment. But with understanding, maybe it would go away. They were getting to that understanding. He'd gotten scared. Well, what if he got scared again?
"Gil, are you still afraid?"
His head shot up. "What?"
"Are you still afraid of us?"
His eyes searched her, traveled over her face, searching for something. "I don't know."
She pursed her lips, feeling none too secure with that admission. "Are you gonna leave again? Are you gonna push me away again?"
"I don't want to."
"What are you gonna do to stop it from happening again?"
"I don't know, Sara!"
"You need to know." She knew she was being hard on him. But these kinds of answers didn't come with handing out roses. No, this kind of information needed pliers to wrench free from his hold.
"What do you want from me?"
She smiled, a cold smile. "I want my soul, Gil. I want to know that I'm complete, either with you or without you."
He closed his eyes and sighed. She knew there was a battle going on in him. The tension in the air was too thick to be ignored now. But she needed to know.
In an almost imperceptible move, he slid from the stool and took her hands in his. She met his gaze curiously. No particular expectations, just a curious sort of waiting.
"I will give you back your soul, on one condition."
"You give me back part of mine."
His blue eyes bore into her mercilessly, and she saw in his eyes the truth. He had left something behind for her. He had left with only part of his own soul. She stared into these eyes, these orbs of absolute truth which hid nothing from her now. She was caught, her mind had shut down as it contemplated all the meanings behind that one statement. Give me back part of mine.
"I can't do that." Her voice croaked.
He blinked. "Then I guess we're stuck with each other."
She swallowed around a lump that had appeared in her throat. "I guess so." Her voice came out more throaty than she'd wanted. But then again, there was no more hiding one's feelings, right? His eyes had captured hers, and though hers burned with tears she could not look away, or blink, for fear he might disappear again. It was only when his face neared hers, and his image blurred as he got closer, that her eyelids finally fell over her eyes and a lone tear cascaded down her cheek. His lips on hers were soft and warm, and they brushed hers ever so gently, like the wings of a butterfly, finally freed of its cocoon. She sighed and returned the kiss, pressing her lips to his before opening her mouth to deepen it. He complied by wrapping his arms around her waist and lifting her to stand with him, her body pressed to his, her hands in his hair, their tongues dancing together.
Ten years of pent up sexual frustration Ten years of foreplay, dancing around the topic like two inexperienced virgins not quite knowing what to do. Ten years of pain and heartache, laughter and tears. The past three years of never quite knowing It all melted away in his arms, his lips on hers, his body against hers, promises now to be kept. She'd hold him to them. After all, they each had a part of each other's souls. What a bargaining chip!