Summary: My response to the Unbound Valentine's Day Challenge. Sara, Grissom and Greg work on a case. Personal revelations of a sort. I hate writing bloody summaries.
A/N: Spoilers for Butterflied. Thanks to Burked, Ann and Marlou for their invaluable beta services.
This challenge had the following stipulations:
1. Can't be in a traditional romantic locale 2. It's not a date - it has to take place in a work-related scene. 3. They have to share something personal. 4. G/S 5. Greg has to get totally drenched with ice-cold water some how.
Rating: PG for a little language.
Sara walked into the crime scene, scanning their surroundings quickly, her mind automatically categorizing the information. It was a small home, in a modest neighborhood, tastefully decorated and thoroughly trashed.
She looked at the room's contents. Empty spots on the shelves and opened drawers implied a robbery. The destruction was personal, though. Mementos and keepsakes had been ruined, but non-descript items had been left untouched.
The owner and victim, Patricia 'Trish' Devine, sat on the couch answering an older detective's questions. Her eyes were red-rimmed, but her posture indicated embarrassment rather than devastation. Despite her loss and discomfort, Devine kept herself together with an inner strength Sara admired.
Sara turned when Grissom stepped to the side, calling out to her and Greg. Each moved quietly to join him, sharing a questioning look. Both had been surprised by the assignment. Greg, that he'd been allowed on-site, and Sara, that Grissom was working with her.
"What can you tell me, Greg?" he asked, spreading his arms to encompass their crime scene.
"Uh, the place was robbed."
"You think so?"
The would-be CSI swallowed nervously. This was the first time Grissom had invited him to be first on the scene, and he wanted to make a good impression. Was Grissom being sarcastic because I stated the obvious? Or because I had stated the obvious, overlooking some vital clue?
The lab tech hastily evaluated the room, looking for something he might have missed. The windows were all closed and intact. The door was in one piece. Leaning over, he looked at the lock, not seeing any obvious marks. There was a security system pad mounted on the wall by the door.
"No sign of forced entry," Greg said, under his breath.
"What's the significance of that?"
Greg looked up at Grissom, who watched him with a steely glare. The younger man wondered if he was being led into a trap. Did I miss something? Or is Grissom testing me to see if I'll stick with my initial assessment? Or am I reading too much into it?
"Inside job," Sara said in a stage whisper, seeing that he was getting flustered under Grissom's questioning.
"Inside job," Greg answered, wincing when the statement came out. Of course he would have heard Sara coaching him.
Grissom raised an eyebrow as he snapped around to face Sara. An uncomfortable moment passed before he spoke.
"This isn't a seminar. You don't have to answer all the questions," he said in an equally fake whisper, looking back at Greg as he outlined the steps they'd go through to process the scene.
Sara stood still, wondering if she'd imagined the wink and smile he'd given her while his back had been to Greg. When no rebukes were forthcoming, the brunette let out a breath that she hadn't realized she was holding.
What the hell was that all about? I'd give anything to know what's going on in that head of yours, Grissom. Are we back to being friends now? Or are you still suffering from sleep deprivation?
This was the first case they'd worked together since her doppelganger had been found murdered, and she still didn't know how to react around Grissom. Hell, it was practically the first time they'd talked since the case.
During, and immediately after, that investigation he'd avoided her, and that suited Sara just fine. She was still trying to come to terms with his 'confession' to Dr. Lurie.
Until that point, she had often considered that she had imagined the tension between them. She certainly had no idea the depths of his feelings towards her, or how badly he'd been hurt when she started seeing Hank.
That saddened her.
Of course, if she had had any idea how he'd felt, she never would have given the paramedic the time of day. It wasn't like she picked Hank over Grissom; he'd never let her 'have' him to begin with. But that didn't stop Grissom from acting like she callously dumped him.
That pissed her off.
And his admission that he 'couldn't' do anything about their relationship confused her. He sounded so sad when he said it. Was he regretful? Did that apply only to their past, or would it dictate their future as well? Did he really think that she'd deliberately hurt him?
That haunted her.
The potent mix of emotions had taken their toll on her. She was still trying to process it all. While his admission answered a lot of questions, it created a whole other set. Most notable was what to do with the knowledge. It wasn't like she could walk up to him and announce that she'd overheard the whole thing.
Oh, yeah, I can see that, now, she thought humorlessly. You'd probably deny what you were really talking about. You'd say you were only trying to needle Lurie. Hell, if you hadn't been on the brink of exhaustion, you probably never would have said a thing.
You never said a word to me. Why? Do you honestly think I could ever walk away from you if we got involved? Look at the way you treated me after Hank. I still love you. Actually give me a reason to feel that way, and there's nothing I wouldn't do for you.
Can you ever trust me enough to try? Or have you been hurt too bad? What do I have to do?
Sara let out a sigh of relief as the detective came over to join the CSIs. Work was something she could do without question. It was a refuge she was using more often.
"Wouldn't bother to look for evidence if I were you," he said dismissively, causing Grissom to stare harshly at him. "She's a Sharky Thomas victim."
"Who's Sharky Thomas?" Sara asked, noticing Grissom's questioning look.
"A Vegas fixture. Con artist. Preys on lonely, old widows. Gets their trust, then robs them blind," the detective answered.
"We've never been able to physically tie him to any of the crimes. The only link we've established is he would become 'friends' with the ladies – always under a different name – shortly before their money disappeared," Grissom added. "Then he disappeared."
"Sharky strikes a time or two, then splits for a couple of years. He's probably out of town already."
"How long ago did this happen?"
"Don't know for sure. Ms. Devine's a singer. Been playing the clubs since she was out of high school. Never made it big 'cause she's not glitzy like those pop stars the kids like," he said, eyeing Greg and Sara as if they were personally to blame.
"I don't do clubs," Sara said honestly.
"I like everything," Greg added, staying close to Sara.
"Yeah. Ms. Devine does the classics – Clooney, Garland, Fitzgerald. You should catch her show," he said to Grissom.
"I prefer Joplin," he groused, trying to ignore his subordinates' chuckles. He may be older than them, but he wasn't that old.
But am I too old? Grissom thought as he watched Sara's face light up in amusement. What would it be like to wake up to that smile every night? What would it be like to be the one who makes you smile like that?
Who am I kidding? I'd be living in a fantasy world if I thought I had a chance with you. Even if you had been interested before, I've pushed you away too many times. I thought I was protecting us. You'd be disappointed once you realized I wasn't anything special, and I'd be devastated when you left me.
I couldn't even function when your double was killed. I couldn't make myself believe it wasn't you. I thought I had finally lost you for good. That I would never have the chance to see your smile again, to hear you laugh, to …
Sara's smile faltered as she noticed the change in Grissom's expression. Before she could say anything, he turned away so she couldn't see his sorrow.
No, I have as much chance with you as Debbie Martin has of coming back from the dead.
"Who's Joplin?" the detective asked, scrunching his face in confusion.
"Never mind," Grissom sighed, forcing his mind back to the cold reality of Las Vegas.
The detective continued, unaware or uncaring about Grissom's change of mood.
"Well, she's been in Reno for a revue the past two weeks. Sharky told her he needed a place to stay while his home was fumigated. She got back tonight to this."
Grissom pursed his lips as he took in the crime scene. He paused in his examination to stare thoughtfully, tilting his head slightly.
"Sharky always emptied their bank accounts. Sometimes he took their jewelry or possessions, if they were high-end. He never trashed a place. This doesn't match his MO."
"Well, he matches the description Ms. Devine gave us to a tee," the detective said, completely unruffled by Grissom's doubts.
"She doesn't match his previous victims," he said, watching as the 40-something Devine was escorted out of the home. "She's practically half the age of his normal victims."
"Twice as loaded, though. Lady knew how to invest. Smart, too. She never gave Sharky any checks, never got a joint account. No financial information."
"His preferred way of robbing them."
"We're going to go take her to the station to look at some mug shots. One of these days, I want to catch this piece of crap."
"Widowed?" Grissom asked, not willing to let go of his doubts so easily.
"Nah, she never married. Worked all the time," he said, looking over his notes. "Not much time for a social life. Gave lessons when she wasn't performing. That's how they met. He posed as a potential client."
"Why the change?" Sara wondered aloud as the home was cleared, and they started work.
"Sharky normally posed as a producer. He always had the next, great show. Just needed some cash to get started," he said, looking at Sara expectantly.
She cocked her head as she watched him. Okay, are we back to friendly banter? I wish Audubon made a "Field Guide to the Unreadable Reclusive Entomologist". God knows I could use it. Well, you don't seem as sad as you did earlier, but I better play it safe.
"I'm not supposed to answer," she said, shaking her head.
Grissom gave her an amused look before turning to Greg.
"She knew enough about the business not to fall for that line?" he offered.
"Possibly," Grissom replied with a half-shrug, rubbing his beard absentmindedly. "Why did he change his victim profile as well?"
"His preferred group of victims are dying off?"
"That was a rhetorical question, Greg."
"Why is it a good thing that he changed his profile?"
"That's not a rhetorical question, Greg."
"Me?" she asked innocently.
Of course you! Who else was my star pupil? You're in such a good mood tonight. It seems like such a long time since I've seen you this happy. God, I've missed this.
"I don't see any other Saras in the room."
Okay, whatever had you down must be gone. You're joking again. God, I miss this. We used to work so well together. It was like we could read each others' minds.
"Sharky knew she had money. Since she was never married, let alone widowed, he didn't pick her name out after reading her husband's obituary," Sara said, turning to Greg. "One of a con artist's favorite tricks. He's getting financial information on his victims somehow. We figure out where, we can track him down."
Grissom shot her another look, but couldn't keep his amusement hidden.
I could always count on you, Sara. You're so sharp. There were days it was like we were thinking the same thing. We'd work so close together. So close I could smell you, feel the heat from your body. I wanted to taste you.
Don't go there. It's not going to happen. Don't start something you know you can't finish. Back off.
"I'll start over here. You stay with Sara, Greg. Do. Not. Touch. A. Thing."
"And don't call me 'sir'," Grissom sighed, wincing as he knelt down to begin work. There was going to be a rare desert storm tonight. His knees were a better indicator than any TV meteorologist.
And just another indicator of his age.
Sara frowned briefly, noticing Grissom's stiffness as he lowered himself to the floor. It wasn't a secret his knees bothered him.
Why won't you see a doctor about it? This job takes a physical toll on you, as well as an emotional one. There's no shame in admitting you need medical help. The longer you wait, the worse it's going to get.
Do you think it'll go away if you ignore it?
Sara turned back to Greg, finding herself smiling as he literally bounced on the balls of his feet in anticipation. God, was I ever that anxious?
As he worked his part of the home, Grissom occasionally paused to observe his younger companions. Greg could barely contain his enthusiasm as he peppered Sara with questions. He considered ending it; Greg's line of questioning was heading into speculation; he was getting far ahead of the evidence.
But Sara was answering with equal gusto. He couldn't recall the last time he'd seen her so alive. Was it the chance to share your knowledge? You know enough to start mentoring beginners. I never thought about you as a mentor.
Big surprise. I was your mentor. It's like admitting your kids are old enough to be parents. Another sign I'm getting older.
Well, if it makes you happy, I'll have to assign it to you more often. I can't recall the last time you were this thrilled by the job. You used to be so enthusiastic when you first came to Vegas. When did that change?
A dark look crossed his face as the lab tech shot her a salacious look, waggling his eyebrows suggestively. Maybe your good mood is due to your present company.
Grissom snapped at Greg when he started to lean against the desk Sara was examining. The younger man stepped away apologetically, clearly embarrassed. Sara gave Greg a reassuring smile before turning to stare at Grissom questioningly.
What was that all about? I finished processing the desk. You knew that. What kind of games are you playing, Grissom? What's gotten into you?
When he turned his back to them, Sara gave Greg a shrug. They continued their conversation about how Sharky Thomas was able to snare his victims.
"That's assuming she's smart."
"She seemed to do well for herself," Sara pointed out.
"Well, if she was so smart, how she'd end up with a creep?"
"Creeps don't usually advertise that fact in advance," Sara laughed, picking up an address book.
"Still," Greg pushed.
"She was lonely," Sara said softly, pausing to take in the room.
All the photographs were older, from when Devine was a child. The address book held few entries and even fewer were local. The appointment book was filled, but entirely with work-related dates.
It's not that hard to see how she fell for him. You get lonely enough, you'll fall for anything that presents itself. I could write that book.
She pointed to the items on the desk, explaining to Greg how she reached her conclusion.
"You'd be surprised," she said softly, stealing a glance at Grissom. He still had his back turned to her.
It was so nice when you were happier earlier. What happened to put you back in a bad mood? Did I do something to make you angry? What? Why won't you talk to me?
She wished she knew how to take away some of his pain. Hank hadn't been intended to hurt him. It was to ease her own loneliness. She bit her lip. Maybe she could let him know that.
"Think about it, Greg, She moved to Las Vegas for her dream. She did okay, but she never got what she really hoped for. She left her home and her family to come here. Doesn't look like she had many friends, not much of a social life."
"Well, she worked all the time," Greg said, rolling his eyes as he looked at the appointment book.
"Bet it didn't start that way. She got tired of coming back to an empty home."
"Working more fixed that?"
"No, but it was an escape."
"You lost me," he said softly, watching her carefully.
Sara paused, wondering whether to continue. She never liked to talk about herself. Her eyes darted to Grissom's back briefly.
Maybe it'll help you, Grissom. Maybe if you knew why I went out with Hank. I could never tell you how lonely I was. How scared I was. I never wanted you to think I was weak. You never showed any signs of weakness. I even accused you of being emotionless. Guess I was wrong about that, wasn't I?
She turned to Greg, shrugging slightly.
"Birthdays became another reminder that she'd used up one more year of her life. She worked holidays, trying not to think about the fact there'd be no one to share them with."
"Yeah, but that kinda goes with the job, doesn't it? That's when people have time to go see shows."
"It's more than that, Greg. It's constant. It doesn't matter how strong you are, it gets to you eventually."
What's he getting at? Does Greg realize I'm talking about myself? Damn. What does that look mean? Oh, damn, damn, damn. Well, I went this far. I'll kill Greg if he talks about this.
"Day after day, it's the same routine. Anything good happens, you don't have anyone to share it with. Anything bad happens, you have to bear it by yourself."
"Why stick with the job then? Seems it caused her more trouble than it was worth."
"It was all she had that gave her any satisfaction."
"But it kept her from getting more."
"Maybe. There's no guarantee she'd be any happier doing something else. That she'd find someone if she did something else. And it's something she's good at. She could take pride in that."
"But the job's rough," Greg said after a momentary pause. "One day, she's going to wake up, and her voice is going to be gone."
"That makes it worse. She knows that. Work is all she has, and one day, maybe not very far in the future, she won't be able to do it anymore. She's going to lose the one thing that means anything to her."
Grissom scowled from his position by the dining room table. He definitely didn't like the direction this line of discussion was heading.
Tell me something I don't tell myself every night. I can't do this forever. Then what? I've wrapped my whole life around my job. It's become who I am. Will there be any 'me' left when I can't do this anymore?
You don't get that, do you Sara? I want to offer you everything that I am, but this is it. This is what I am. Could you be happy with that? I doubt it. It's not enough to make me happy anymore. I want to be with you. I don't know what I can do, though.
"Vicious cycle," Greg said. "The job makes her happy, but keeps her from being happy."
"Something like that, yeah."
"Well, there's always friends," Greg said pointedly.
Sara took a deep breath. Grissom had moved out of the room. Figures. I finally talk to you, and you don't even listen. Story of my life. I wish I knew how to tell you what you need to hear.
"Friends can only do so much. And they aren't permanent."
"Wanna make a bet?" Greg said, giving her shoulder a gentle nudge.
Sara gave him a smirk, twisting around to face him completely. "Who was your best friend growing up?"
"Robby Clark. Looked up to me. Good judge of character, even at that early age."
"Where is he now?"
"No idea. I haven't … talked to him in years."
"My point. You swear you'll always stay in touch but reality sets in. You don't. No one does."
"Yeah, guess you're right about that. But why settle for this creep?"
"He was there."
"There had to be others there. Somebody from work, maybe?"
"Maybe they couldn't ever be more than friends. Wouldn't be fair to lead someone on, knowing it would never be what he wanted."
Sorry, Greg, You're a sweet guy, but I'd never feel that way for you. You'll find someone who can make you happy. Someone who'll be willing to show how they feel.
"No, she couldn't do that," Sara said. "So, it's another meal alone, another night in an empty bed, knowing there'll be no one there when you wake up. Wondering if there's every going to be someone there."
"She's pretty good looking. For her age, I mean. She could have snagged some if she wanted."
"Gotta secret for ya, Greg. Sex isn't the answer to everything. Not to some of us."
"Really?" he asked in mock-horror, smiling at the evil look she gave him.
"She wanted someone who cared. Someone who'd be part of her life. This guy was it for her. She overlooked behavior that should have made her suspicious."
"I guess, but I still say you'd have spotted this guy a mile away."
"I'm probably not the best person to ask that," she smiled humorously.
"Hank was an idiot," he said earnestly, lowering his voice to a gentle caress.
"Then what does that make me?" she chuckled sadly. "He fooled me. All that time, and I never noticed. Or didn't want to."
Grissom froze in the kitchen. He'd moved in here to avoid listening to the conversation. It had reminded him too much of his own loneliness, but he'd still overheard the entire thing.
He'd never even considered that Sara was talking about herself. And it was impossible not to notice the catch in her voice at the end.
Huh? That thing with Hank hurt you? Figured you two were never serious. You never said anything about it. You never cried. But when have you ever shown your pain? I've seen you upset when you thought you failed a victim, but what about when you're the victim?
Grissom let out a ragged breath. The truth was he hadn't cared. He told himself the paramedic had been another notch in her belt, even though he knew Sara wasn't that shallow. But it had hurt that she'd picked the younger man. That had confused him.
So that's why you settled for that jerk. I never could understand what you saw in him. You've been that lonely? All this time? Why haven't you said anything?
Grissom snorted softly as he headed back to the main area of the house.
And what if you had? Not like I would have gotten up the nerve to ask you out. Sometimes I wonder what scared me more: that you'd say 'no', or that you'd say 'yes'.
You asked me out later. How lonely did you have to get before you finally got around to me?
But you're not that way.
And you're not happy here. That much is clear. What did you say? You didn't get what you really wanted. You couldn't mean … No. Why would you?
"Greg." When the younger man faced him, he tossed him the keys to the SUV. "There are some large evidence bags in the back. Bring in a lot of them."
"Sure. Be back in a flash," he said to Sara, winking as he left the home.
Grissom moved to examine the shelves while Sara finished checking a side table. He tried to observe her, but she pointedly refused to face him. Even he could tell she was embarrassed.
That must have been hard for you to admit. So why did you do it? You're about as private as I am. Was there some reason you wanted Greg to know about that?
He frowned, unable to think of any scenario where Sara would be willing to share such a private pain to Greg. They weren't that close. He'd been embarrassed when he snapped at Greg earlier. There wasn't anything going on between them.
It was another sign that Sara deserved better. He wasn't able to be with her, but the thought of her being happy with someone else always brought out his jealous side. It wasn't fair to her.
But that doesn't answer why you brought this up. Did you need to talk about it? Why pick Greg? We have a stress hotline through work. You could have talked privately to a professional if you needed to. Then why? I'm the only other one here.
Did you want me to know?
Grissom blinked in confusion. He moved to stand behind Sara, his frown becoming a look of concern as he saw her tense. He stepped to the side, focusing on the broken glass she was examining.
"Find anything?" he asked softly, using work as a cover to talk to her.
"Not sure," she said, trying to keep her voice level, looking outside briefly when thunder rolled through the air.
Grissom pursed his lips. He was still trying to process all that Sara had said. He'd never considered how unhappy she was. Now that he did think about it, he had to admit he probably caused some of her sadness.
"This was personal," she said, pointing to the broken picture frames. "Doesn't sound like your Sharky. Could he have a double?"
"Far as I know, this is the first victim that got the better of him. Maybe he got frustrated that he couldn't con her. She's smarter than the others."
"Not smart enough to avoid getting hurt."
"He didn't get much."
"Not all damage is visible. Could hurt a lot worse than it shows," she said, clearing her voice. "Sorry. Frog in my throat."
Why did I think we could talk about this at work? Why did I think you would want to talk at all? You've never said a word to me about how you felt. Why'd did I think anything had changed? Why can't I get over you?
"Damn, it's coming down hard!" a sopping wet Greg exclaimed from the doorway.
"Don't come up here!" Grissom snapped.
Damn. We were so close. I can't talk with Greg here.
"You'll get any potential evidence wet. Go wait outside."
"But it's freezing…"
"These storms never last long," Grissom said, taking the bags from him and waving him onto the porch. After closing the door, he took a deep breath as he turned around, watching as Sara bagged something she found stuck on a glass shard.
"You think it was loneliness that Sharky is preying on?"
You're looking at me like I grew a second head. Maybe you weren't talking about yourself earlier. No, you probably think I didn't get it. Or I don't care. God, I hope you don't think that. I care too much.
Sara darted her eyes to the side quickly. Grissom was watching her intently, his eyes dark with emotion.
So, you did hear. Too bad you didn't understand.
Sara nodded her head, only willing to look at him briefly. He seemed openly curious, but she wasn't sure she wanted to expose any more of herself that night.
"It's a basic human emotion. Very powerful."
You're embarrassed, aren't you? You're wishing you never brought this up. Am I that hard to talk to? Probably. But that doesn't stop you from trying.
I wasn't kidding when I said I didn't know what to do about 'this'. If I make a wrong move, I know I will hurt you. If I don't make any move, I know I am hurting you. I don't want to hurt you. I don't want to be hurt. I am hurting. I want to be with you so much.
I thought you didn't want me. That's why you picked Hank. You were afraid? You're so strong. It's one of the things I admire about you. I never thought you were afraid of anything.
"She was afraid to be alone? That seems … odd."
You don't know the victim. Why would you think it was odd that she was afraid? Oh, shit. You do know I was talking about myself. Oh, no. What do I do now? You didn't sound judgmental. Are you trying to understand? Please try to understand.
"Not everyone is comfortable being alone."
"So uncomfortable that she'd make a stupid move?"
"Fear can make you do some stupid things. Things that you don't know the full impact of. Things that you wish you could take back," she said, her sadness clear in her tone.
That sounds almost like an apology. Do you know that you hurt me, even if it wasn't intentional? Well, I wasn't really subtle in letting you know I was unhappy.
"Well, it's not productive to fret over unforeseen consequences," he offered.
I'm sorry. I didn't know how lonely you were. I should have been there for you. I can't. Try to understand.
"Doesn't change the fact it ended up being hurtful," Sara said, straightening up quickly to examine another broken picture.
Are you talking about it being painful for yourself or for me? Or both of us?
"Fight or flight," he said softly after a few minutes.
Sara gave him puzzled look. Grissom shrugged, turning to watch the rain pelt the pavement from the window.
"That's what people say about fear. You either run from it, or you fight it."
Where are you going with this, Grissom?
"Hormonal response to adrenaline."
"True. But fear can do other things. It can paralyze you."
Don't turn away, Grissom. Is this another confession? Don't shut me out now. Keep talking.
"Oh?" she asked softly.
"You might want to act, but the fear is too much to handle," Grissom said, moving to start bagging the remaining evidence. "You don't know what to do about … it … so you do nothing."
"Isn't that the same as running away?"
"No, not really," Grissom sighed. "If you run away, that's a clear indication that you want to get away from it."
Sara moved to stand near him, tilting her head as she watched him. What did you just say? Are you saying that you want to do something?
"So doing nothing is an indication of what?" Sara asked, her voice uneven.
"Not having any idea where to go," he said remorsefully. "Any action seems equally dangerous. In the end, no action seems like the only possible response."
"Like a deer in headlights."
"Something like that," Grissom said, shrugging as he moved away from the window. "You know you're about to get crushed, no matter what you do."
"Well, yeah," Sara stated hotly, turning to stare pointedly at Grissom. "Once you decide there's only one possible outcome, you've automatically ended any other scenario. It's self-defeating action."
Huh? Does that mean I'm not too late? Are you still interested? What if you are? Am I?
"Possibly. But it's the fear that's keeping you from making the move. The deer doesn't want to get squashed."
You won't get hurt. God, Grissom. Haven't you listened to anything I've said? I don't know how else to tell you.
"You can't know that for certain. That's assuming the worst possible outcome. You know how dangerous it is to make assumptions," Sara said.
Grissom turned around, looking at the damaged home. He paused to fix Sara with an intent stare. They held the pose for a moment, before he sighed in defeat.
"Look around you. This is what happens when you act out of fear. If he had taken her money, that could be replaced. She lost personal things. Things that were important to her. She can never get those back. She's been hurt badly."
"There's a lot of ways you can hurt someone," Sara said, moving away from him. "It's better to try."
"Isn't that an assumption as well? You can't know all the outcomes."
"No," she said firmly. "No. If you never try, then why bother with anything? You'll never be happy. You've condemned yourself to misery. Nothing will ever change. You turned a potential into a reality."
Grissom frowned as he packed his kit. He couldn't argue with that statement. When Sara turned to look at him, he could see she was struggling with something.
"You can't let fear run your life," she said finally. "You aren't living if you do."
"Easier said than done. There could be too much at stake. Too much to lose."
"Then you're trapped. You're a slave to your fear."
Grissom cocked his head, considering what she said. He broke into a smile when she started to sing softly.
"'Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose.'"
"How do you know Janis Joplin?"
"Okay, let's ignore the fact that before moving to Vegas, I was in San Francisco – home of the world's largest concentration of hippies. My parents hung out in the same circles as Janis before she got famous."
"Really? I never knew that."
"There are a lot of things you don't know about me, Grissom," Sara said, blushing in embarrassment. Why can't I ever keep my mouth shut around you? "We better get going. Poor Greg's getting soaked out there. That porch doesn't offer much protection."
They moved the last of the evidence to the SUV, after making Greg sit in the back seat wrapped in a blanket. Grissom paused, turning to take a last look around the home. He gave Sara an embarrassed smile when she walked up beside him.
"Do you think the fear's too much?" Sara asked so softly Grissom wasn't sure he had heard her. Her nervous shuffle when he turned to look at her confirmed she had spoken.
I did it again. I had to open my mouth. Why? Things were okay. I guess. Do I really want to know your answer?
"I don't know,' he eventually answered, turning to walk to the SUV. Part way there, Grissom stopped. "Greg was right. Hank was an idiot."
As they started moving to the vehicle, Sara gave him a shy smile. "You know, I have some recordings my parents made of Janis Joplin performing at parties. They're not great quality, but I could burn you a CD. If you want."
"I'd like that, Sara," he said softly. They exchanged another hesitant look before getting into the Denali.
Maybe some day I'll be able to tell you what I really feel.