Rating: The part posted here: PG-13. As for the full fic, NC-17 for graphic sexual situations and language. Accordingly, only the first part of Isolation is going to be posted on fanfiction.net. The full fic is posted on my website, csiburke.com (put www in front. ff.net sometimes gets fussy when you post a web address.). I will eventually post a full edited-for-TV version here, if time allows.
Summary: G/S, Sequel to Pestis. After being exposed to the plague (in Pestis), the cop, Grissom and Sara have to spend three days in an Isolation Room at the hospital. There is no escaping her now.
Disclaimer: CSI and its characters belong to Anthony Zuicker, CBS and Alliance Atlantis. Accordingly, anything I write using them belongs to the copyright holders. I accept this.
A/N: The line above says the author is Burked, and I guess to a fair extent it is. However, it would never have seen the light of day if not for Laredo Grissom, LSI, and Mossley. They spent many an IM session brainstorming with me, helping me through stalls. Their contributions went well beyond betas. Thank you, ladies!DAY 1
"Put them in Isolation Room Three," Dr. Alphonse, the admitting physician ordered. "We only have one available isolation room right now, but we put three beds in there for you. Luckily, you won't have to be in here too long," he said, walking with them towards Isolation. At the door he stopped. "There are scrubs on the shelf in the next room, and a bathroom in the isolation room. You can change in there. Drop your biohazard suits in the biohazard hamper in this ante-room," he said to Grissom, Sidle, and Hobbs.
They passed through the first set of doors and rifled through the scrubs to find the right sizes. They were stunned at the close quarters when they passed through the second door into their home for the next few days.
The room was undecorated and institutional, designed solely for function over form. A television hung suspended from a wall, faced by three beds covered in stiff white cotton sheets that smelled of chlorine.
"Cozy," Sara offered, looking at the beds lined up not two feet apart.
"They might as well have shoved them together to make one big bed," Hobbs quipped.
"Ooo! Ménage à trois!" Sara teased, bouncing her eyebrows salaciously.
Hobbs laughed, but Grissom shook his head. He wasn't entirely sure he was ready for three days of this.
"Haven't you ever fantasized about that?" Sara continued, laughing.
"Not with another man involved," Grissom admitted.
"Where's your sense of adventure?" she prodded him.
"I outgrew it," he told her. "We'll be gentlemen and let you choose which bed you want first," Grissom offered, changing the subject as quickly as possible.
"My first reaction would be the middle, just so I could say that I was sandwiched between two attractive men," she said teasingly. "However, to be realistic, I'd prefer the one closest to the bathroom. Practicality over fantasy," she conceded.
"Okay. How about you, Hobbs? Got a preference?" Grissom asked, hoping that the young man would choose the middle to form a buffer between Sara and himself.
"Uh, I'm actually a little claustrophobic, and this room isn't helping much," he admitted. "I'd prefer the bed by the window, if it's okay with you, sir," he said politely.
"Oh, sure. That's fine. It doesn't matter to me, as long as it's a flat surface. I'm exhausted," Grissom told the young man. "Sara, why don't you go into the bathroom and change so we can all get some rest? We'll change out here. Knock on the door before you come out," he warned her sternly.
"You're bound and determined to take all the fun out of this experience, aren't you?" she said to torment him, before closing the bathroom door. Sara stripped off the hot biohazard suit gratefully. To give the guys time and to get more comfortable herself, she decided to take a quick shower before donning her scrubs. She allowed the cool water to rinse her off, cursing the fact that there was no shampoo or soap in the bathroom. She guessed that they had not had the time to provide them with the basic necessities. Using the one towel, she told herself to remember to ask for more.
Sara slid into the voluminous scrubs, cinching up the waist. She felt like she was wearing a tent, and she didn't care for the texture of the stiff cotton. But she could stand anything for three days. She realized that she didn't have a brush either, so she scrunched the water out of her hair and shook it to separate out the ringlets of curls.
Sara knocked loudly on the door, then called out, "You guys decent?" Hearing their resounding affirmatives, she opened the door, adopting a disappointed look. "You know, you look a lot better in these things than I do," she said, pulling at the extra inches of material.
"We need to get some things in here. There's no soap, no shampoo, no toothbrushes or toothpaste, only one towel," she began to enumerate.
"Leave it to the pretty lady to think of hygiene first," Officer Hobbs said. "All I was worried about was when we're going to get fed, and where the remote control is for the TV," he laughed.
"You can both do whatever you want to. I'm going to sleep," Grissom said, turning over on his side, closing his eyes and almost immediately passing into sleep.
"How can he just fall asleep like that, with other people in the room, the lights on and the TV going?" Hobbs asked.
"Years of practice. I can sleep standing up, if I have to," Sara quipped.
* * * * *
Grissom roused later to find that he was looking directly into the eyes of Sara Sidle, not three feet from him. She was lying on her side, facing him, propped up on one elbow. She appeared to have been staring at him, making him very uncomfortable.
"I always wondered what it would be like to wake up next to you," she said seductively.
Grissom jerked his head towards Hobbs's bed, but saw that it was empty.
"Did you think I would say that, even joking, with him in the room?" she asked incredulously.
"I never know what to think when it comes to you, Sara. Anything's possible," he said, pushing himself up. "Where's Hobbs?"
"Taking his turn at the shower," she answered, also sitting up.
"You need to be careful about the things you say," Grissom warned. "Hobbs could get the wrong impression."
"I'm just trying to keep things light, Grissom. I could tell Hobbs was claustrophobic as soon as we came in here. The banter is to keep his mind off of his confined quarters," she explained. "As long as I include him in my flirtations, he won't get the wrong impression."
"Oh, so you aren't really flirting with me?" Grissom said in mock-disappointment.
"Maybe I really am flirting with you. Or maybe I'm not really flirting with either one of you. You never know," she teased.
Grissom didn't speak, but merely looked at her, his face unreadable to her.
"Hey, I forgot to thank you," she said.
"For what?" Grissom asked.
"For coming to help me. I didn't intend for you to get caught up in the same mess, though. I just needed to hear you tell me everything would be all right. I didn't expect you to come rushing to my rescue," she said, smiling.
"I'm afraid I didn't do much to help," Grissom sighed.
"Just your being there helped. I felt more ... at peace."
"I'm glad I could help then," he said uncertainly.
Officer Hobbs came out of the bathroom smelling only a little better than when he went in. "They gave us some soap and shampoo," he told Sara.
"I hate to burst your bubble, but you still smell like a decomp. Hey, you think they could bring us some lemons?" she asked.
Sara pushed the button to call the nurses station. "Excuse me," Sara said when one of the nurses answered. "Could we get some lemons? They're to take the smell of death off of us," she said matter-of-factly.
"I'll see what I can do," the nurse answered nonplussed.
"Basic problem-solving," Sara said to Grissom, nodding her head.
* * * * *
They heard a knock at the door and Dr. Alphonse worked his way into the crowded room, dressed in a biohazard suit.
"If that is supposed to be comforting, it's not," Sara quipped, pointing at his suit.
"It's comforting to me," the doctor replied with a laugh, moving to the end of her bed to retrieve her chart. He moved up beside her and palpated the lymph nodes in her neck and under her arms, bringing involuntary giggles from her.
"Ticklish?" he asked.
"Only when cute doctors touch me," she teased.
He shook his head with a smile and moved to Grissom's bed next. He repeated the same steps, but didn't get a reaction. "I guess he doesn't think I'm cute," he said to over his shoulder to Sara.
"When can we get out of here?" Officer Hobbs asked, anxiously.
"In a couple of days or so, depending on how well you are doing," the doctor answered by rote, palpating the lymph glands on the young man.
"I'm a little claustrophobic," Hobbs admitted. "I've really need to get out of here!"
"Well, in that case, I think I have some good news for you, Officer. Another isolation room has opened up. We can transfer you to your own room, which will give you a lot more space. Would that hold you for another couple of days?" the doctor asked sympathetically.
"I think so," Hobbs answered uncertainly.
"Good. I'll have them transfer you right away," he said, patting the young man on the shoulder before leaving.
"Oh my gosh!" Hobbs said, hitting himself on the forehead. "I am so selfish! I'm sorry, Sara. I should have let you have the other room. I wasn't thinking. It's just that this room seems to be getting smaller every second," he said, embarrassed.
"No, Hobbs, I want you to have it. I'll make out fine here," Sara said, laughing in her mind when she saw Grissom's reaction, especially to her choice of words.
"Are you sure? I mean, maybe they can just tranquilize me or something so I'll sleep the whole time," he offered.
"Don't be ridiculous!" Sara chirped. She was planning to use their time in Isolation to her advantage.
* * * * *
When the room was finally left to Grissom and Sara, he mumbled more to himself than to her, "That which I have most feared has come upon me."
"Shakespeare?" she guessed.
"The Book of Job," Grissom corrected.
"Are you afraid to be alone with me, Dr. Grissom?" she asked in a mock-sinister voice.
"I've never been more afraid of anything in my life!" he laughed.
"Be afraid! Be very afraid!" she said theatrically, holding up clawed hands like a monster from a 1950s "B" movie.
"You seem to be in a good mood today," he noted.
"Well, the way I see it, why the hell not? I've had a helluva month, Grissom. And I'm still kicking. I've been within spitting distance of a lab explosion, but I survived. I asked you out and got shot down in flames, but I survived. I've been exposed to the plague, but I survived. Why shouldn't I be in a good mood?" she asked. "I may not be invincible, but at least I've proven to myself that I'm a survivor."
"That was never in doubt, Sara," Grissom told her, the admiration evident in his voice. Getting uncomfortable twisting around to talk to her, Grissom swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat facing her, allowing his feet to dangle freely.
Sara shifted to face him as well, tucking her feet under her knees. She looked at him appraisingly. "Let's talk, Grissom. This is the most privacy we've ever had. No one is going to page us, call our cell phones, walk in unannounced, or overhear us."
"I would ask what you want to talk about, but I guess that would qualify as a stupid question," he exhaled, feeling the anxiety build in his chest.
"We can talk about anything you want to talk about. I just think this would be a good time to get things settled between us once and for all, don't you?" she asked.
"I'm still not fully convinced that's possible," Grissom stated plainly, if mournfully, his legs swinging nervously next to the bed.
"Let's try. Let's see what happens," she said hopefully.
He chuckled at her choice of words.
"Could we start by promising to be honest?" she asked.
"That could prove difficult as well," he posited.
"There's no-one here but us, Grissom. Just for once, let's be completely honest with each other, okay? If you want to deny everything you said once you walk out that door, that's your prerogative. But while we're in here, let's just say what we mean," she suggested.
"I'll try. It's not that I want to be dishonest with you, Sara. It's just that sometimes I'm not sure what the truth is. And other times, it's too sensitive to talk about easily. And other times, it might be hurtful," he said, wincing slightly when he saw the fear briefly pass through her eyes.
"Lies, half-truths and evasion are more hurtful," she asserted. "It's fitting that we are in an Isolation Room," Sara mused. "I feel like I've been isolated for so long. Never quite accepted by the others because I'm 'Grissom's friend', and never quite accepted by you either. I want out of isolation. I want to connect to somebody. I'd like to know if there could be a connection between us."
"It's like I told you in the plague-house, I wish it could be different, but it just can't," he said generically.
"Why not?" she asked simply.
"It just can't," he said with a shrug, though his face showed anything but indifference.
"Pretend you are in court, Grissom. Build a logical case for me, using real reasons, not vague assertions," she instructed.
"There are several reasons. Do I have to list them all? I think you are as aware of them as I am," he said.
"Evidently not," she retorted.
Sighing heavily, Grissom said, "This is very uncomfortable. I don't think I can look at you while I do this," he said turning back to recline on his bed. He stared at the ceiling for what seemed like hours to Sara.
"It's unprofessional to engage in a relationship with an employee, especially a direct report."
"Okay. What's the next reason?" she asked, not attempting to deflate his arguments.
"I am too old, or you are too young, however you prefer to see it. There's fifteen years between our ages – almost an entire generation," he said heavily.
"I'm not good at relationships," he admitted. "I always screw them up somehow."
"Okay. Are there more?" she asked.
"Yes, but they are all probably subsections of the others," he said.
"Let me ask you this. If none of those reasons were an issue, then would you have dinner with me?"
"That's specious reasoning," he said. "You cannot change something like our age difference."
"Are you avoiding the question?"
"No, I'm not avoiding the question. Yes, if those issues didn't exist, of course I would go out to dinner with you."
"Hmm," Sara intoned, lowering herself to a supine position on the bed. She put her hands behind her head and studied the ceiling, just as Grissom was doing.
"Is that all you're going to say?" Grissom asked after a few silent minutes had passed.
"Did you ask me a question?" she rejoined.
"No. I expected you to argue with me," he said in confusion.
"Would it do any good?" she asked.
"I doubt it," Grissom said.
"Then why should I bother?" Sara picked up the remote control and turned the television's volume up a little, flipping over to A&E. "Oh, look! Cold Cases is on!" she squealed excitedly. She pushed the button to raise the back of her bed and began concentrating on the TV, much to Grissom's surprise.
Grissom couldn't focus on the program. He was mystified by Sara's response. In the past, these types of discussions, even at a much less frank level, usually made her upset. She sometimes became teary, which always bothered him, making him even more tongue-tied. She sometimes blew up, which was never pleasant to be around. Other times, she would walk off from him and not speak civilly to him for days, or even weeks. Her behavior today was frankly perplexing.
She didn't argue. She didn't cry. She merely turned on a forensics program. Every few minutes she would turn to him and say something about the case, or the methods they were using, so she wasn't withdrawing and giving him the cold shoulder. Grissom was as bewildered as he had ever been, and honestly wasn't sure how he should react.
"Damn! We're lucky! Tonight is where they show them back-to-back. Do you want to watch the second Cold Cases, or would you rather me flip it to Forensic Files? It's on right now, too," she offered.
"Doesn't matter," he mumbled.
Sara flipped it over to Court TV to see what was going to be on Forensic Files. "Oh, this is a good one. I just got to see a little of it once before. I'll finally get to see how it ends."
"They catch the guy," Grissom said blankly. "They always do."
"Well, we always win World War II, but I bet you still watch war movies," she laughed.
Grissom couldn't explain it, but he found himself sinking into a funk. Though he had dreaded having the conversation with Sara about their relationship, he had also been glad that it would finally be settled. Her tacit acceptance of his arguments, with no counter-arguments of her own, left him feeling out of balance. He had expected her to try to punch holes in his reasons; he was hoping she could. Instead, she accepted them gracefully and ended the conversation. He felt cheated somehow.
When the program was over, Sara tossed the remote to Grissom and announced that she was going to take a shower and a nap, in that order. When she returned, Grissom was back staring at the ceiling, the TV muted again.
"I'm going to sleep, but don't let that stop you from watching TV. It's not going to bother me," she assured him.
Grissom didn't respond, seemingly lost in his thoughts.
Sara shrugged and slid down under the covers, her back to him. She soon entered the netherworld between wakefulness and sleep, where images are wild and vivid, and the dreams have no plot.
"I thought we were going to talk about this," Grissom suddenly said, jarring Sara back to consciousness.
"Hmmm?" she asked groggily.
"I said, I thought we were going to talk about this," he repeated.
"You said that it wouldn't change things to talk about them," she recalled to him.
"I said I doubt it would change things," he corrected.
"You're the one who would know. If you doubt it, then you're probably right," she said, perplexing Grissom all the more.
"It's not like you to just give up, Sara," he said, turning to look at her.
"I think I've given it plenty of time and effort, Grissom. It's not like I gave up on day one. It's been almost three years. If you say it's never going to change, then why should I argue with you? I told you what I wanted. You said no. End of story. Move on. I'm not going to expose myself to the possibility of one more minute of pain over it. I'll deal with how I feel about it later, when I'm by myself again."
"Is that what you meant by 'too late'?" he asked wearily. "If I can't give you what you want right away, if I can't change instantly, if I have to work through all of this, then it's over before it even begins? I'm isolated, too, but I've been that way a lot longer than you have. It's going to take me more time to find my way out, Sara. But it's not like I'm not trying. I'm just lost right now, confused."
"You know, Grissom, you need to decide what you want first, without all the overthinking. Until then, there's no use discussing anything. You told me at the house that you categorically would not go out with me. Now you are acting disappointed that I don't want to argue about it. Make up your mind first, then we can talk," she said without rancor, then turned over.
"My statement that I would not go out with you is the logical conclusion derived from the premises that I've outlined for you. If my premises are faulty, then so may be my conclusion. I'd like to hear your analysis," he said earnestly. "It might help me figure this out."
Sara turned to face him. "My analysis? I disagree with you. But you already knew that," Sara said succinctly.
"I'd like to hear your reasoning," Grissom urged.
"Grissom ..." Sara began, a little nonplussed, "This isn't about reasoning. Maybe that's why it's got you so confused. You're trying to apply logic to a situation that is about feelings."
"So you are saying I shouldn't give any thought whatsoever to consequences?" Grissom asked, shocked.
"Only in matters of the heart, Grissom. Quit thinking. Feel," she said passionately.
"I do feel," he argued. "I know what you all think, but I do feel."
"Then act on your feelings," she said simply. "If you feel like you'd like to give it a try, then say so. If you feel like you have no interest, say so. Quit thinking about what you should feel, or what you're expected to feel, or what you are allowed to feel, and experience what you do feel."
"I know what I feel."
"Then that's all you really need to know about 'this'," she said, mimicking his gesture from a month prior.
"What if it's not the same thing you feel?"
"What if it is? You'll never know unless you either tell me how you feel or show me how you feel. If you don't want to always be isolated, you've got to open up to someone. Let it be me."
"I'm not very comfortable with talking about how I feel," Grissom said, shrugging slightly.
"Then show me," Sara coaxed. "If you're not interested, then turn over the other way and go to sleep. We'll never speak of it again. But if you are, turn over and face me, and let's start working this out."
After a moment's hesitation, more from fear than indecision, Grissom rolled over to face her, then raised himself to sit up on the edge of the bed.
Sara mirrored him, pushing herself up to sit facing him.
"I'm almost afraid to ask what you want to do now," Grissom said anxiously.
Sara laughed and shook her head. "I'm not that easy, big guy. What I'd like to do is get to know you."
"You've known me for a decade!" Grissom countered.
"I've known what you've let me know. But I'd like to know more about the real you. Tell me about where you grew up, what your family was like, that sort of thing."
"You know I grew up in California, like you. But in southern California."
"Yes, but tell me about it," Sara prodded.
"There's not much to tell. I was born in Santa Monica, but we moved to Marina Del Rey when I was still a baby."
"So you lived near the ocean."
"Yes, very close. I used to play down at the beach when I was a kid."
"Tell me about your parents. Are they still alive?"
"My mother is, but I don't know if my father is. He and my mother are divorced."
"How old were you ... when they split up?"
"Five," he said heavily.
"That's young. Too young to understand any of it," Sara said compassionately.
"For a long time, I thought it was because of me. You know how kids are. Either I had done something wrong, or maybe he didn't want to be around me – I wasn't ideal son material. Then I thought it might be because my mother went deaf."
"Man, I feel like I don't know you at all! Why didn't you tell me that when I asked how you knew how to sign?"
"Two reasons. First of all, I'm not accustomed to talking about it much. Second, to be honest, you asked in a confrontational way, in front of someone else. In a different circumstance, I might have answered you – but, then again, I might not have."
"Because I didn't want to tip off that I could be having hearing problems as well."
"I'm glad you finally decided to have the surgery. I was getting worried about you," Sara said, smiling kindly.
"I didn't think anyone knew anything about it. I had to tell Catherine so she could cover for me."
"You hid it from the others pretty well for a long time," Sara said, nodding slightly.
"If I had known that you knew something was going on, I wouldn't have had to work so hard to avoid you," Grissom said, huffing a short mirthless laugh.
"If I had known that's why you were avoiding me, I would have told you that it was a wasted effort."
"Well, it's water over the dam now."
"Were either of your parents scientists?" Sara asked, getting back to his story.
"No. My mother was ... is ... an art dealer. She's had a shop in the same location in Venice for more than forty years."
"How does an artist spawn a scientist?" Sara laughed.
"I don't know. But she was always supportive. At least artists seem to know how to accept the differences in people."
"I hadn't thought of that. Guess you're right. What about your father?"
Grissom snorted a laugh, then shook his head. "I don't know about now, but when I was a kid he would say he was in the import/export business. I didn't find out until much later that he was a smuggler, mostly with Communist China."
"Your father was a criminal?" Sara squealed, surprised.
"That is not common knowledge, Sara," Grissom warned gravely.
"I guess the hell not!"
"He and my mother fought about it a lot, evidently. They were already growing apart when she began to lose her hearing. I don't know if that's why he left, or if he was running from prosecution. Good riddance, either way," Grissom said, a bit acidly.
"You look exhausted," Sara commented, suddenly noticing how wan and pale he looked..
"I haven't had much sleep, and I have to admit that this is more draining than you might think. I'm not accustomed to talking about my past ... to anyone. I don't even discuss most of this with my mother, and she was there."
"Thank you, Grissom. I do understand how significant this is. Really," she said, reaching across to lay a hand gently on his knee.
"When's it going to be your turn?" he asked with a half-grin, putting his hand over hers, holding it there.
"After nap time," she answered, almost maternally.
Lying back in his bed, facing her, a tug-of-war ensued with his eyelids. Exhaustion demanded that they close, but he would periodically snap them open to look across at Sara, who looked even more lovely when her face was as relaxed as it was then.
He still felt anxious about telling her so much about his past, as though he were betraying a confidence. He had always feared the reactions of others to his family situation, especially as a child. Her easy acceptance seemed to answer a question he wasn't aware he had been asking: If she knew the truth about him, would she abandon him?
He felt that he was beginning at least a tentative connection to her on an emotional level, and felt compelled to touch her physically – not for any sexual motive, but to solidify the connection into something tangible. He needed the comfort of her touch to assure him that she was there and hadn't withdrawn after his revelations.
Sensing she was being watched, Sara comically opened one eye, smiling. Seeing him seemingly unable to allow himself to close his eyes, she gently asked, "Can't sleep?"
Rather than speak, Grissom shrugged slightly, finding himself unable to tear himself from her eyes.
Sara frowned momentarily in thought, then sprang into action. She rolled out on the other side of her bed and with a light shove, scooted it directly next to Grissom's bed, earning a raised eyebrow from him.
She crawled back in bed, but still kept a discreet distance between them. "Don't panic, Grissom. I'm not going to ravage you," she teased. Instead, she reached out a hand towards him. He gingerly took it in his, finding himself unable to resist caressing it with his thumb.
Sara smiled and closed her eyes, mumbling, "Rest now."
Grissom looked at their joined hands and felt the peace and comfort that he had been coveting. Forfeiting his battle with sleep, he was now confident that their nascent connection would still be intact when he awoke. He drifted into sleep dreaming of holding her close to him.
* * * * *
The first sensation greeting Grissom as he awoke was warmth seeping into his chest. Soon, he was aware enough to realize that he was holding her, spooned loosely against his body, with her lying on his right arm and his left arm possessively wrapped around her waist.
At first, Grissom was startled and embarrassed. He assumed that he had pulled her in, acting out his dream in reality. He briefly considered how to unwrap himself from around her, without waking her, unsure of her reaction if she woke in this position. She might see it as a concession on his part, an agreement to pursue the relationship she was seeking.
The temptation to delay disentanglement overtook him, so he lay stock-still, taking in the feel of her, the look of her and the scent of her, grateful that he would always have this memory, regardless of what may come.
Sara began to stir, and Grissom's mind began arguing in earnest again on how to disengage. Negating the question, Sara pulled his arm tighter around herself, pushing herself back closer to him. She let out a soft purring sound, like a contented kitten.
"Are you awake?" Grissom asked softly.
"If I say 'yes', do I have to move?" she asked sleepily.
"Not if you don't want to," he answered, his inner conflict raging.
"Don't want to," she purred, wiggling even further back into him, gently stroking the arm she held captive.
Reveling in their closeness, they succumbed once again to slumber, allowing themselves new dreams, now that they were living the old one.
A/N: This is the end of the introductory PG-13 part. Out of respect for the intent of fanfiction.net's rules, the remainder can be found on my website. You can access it through the author's bio page on fanfiction.net, or type in csiburke.com (www in front).