Rating: PG-13, just in case.
Summary: This entire fic was written so that Grissom could say the last line to Sara. *Every* sentence since the beginning takes Grissom one step closer to that LAST LINE. And is NOT 'I love you'. G/S
Author's Notes: I felt I had to post some G/S angst before my 'angst muscle' got flabby.
This fic has been re-written like a hundred times before dumb me realized the poor story was going to wind up in cyber morgue (I actually have a folder named that for stories that aren't going anywhere) with an autopsy report concluding: Death by revision. I have accepted the fact that this fic will never look right to me.
Constructive criticism will be received with a squeal of happiness and joy.
Thanks Peggie for the beta. Like the obsessive woman I am, I changed a few things so whenever you see a mistake of any kind, I am to blame. Only me and my grammatically challenged brain.
***The other side of The Line by CrazyAngel***
"Cheers," she said to no one, raising the glass.
Sara took a dainty sip of her champagne and let the tiny bubbles tickle her tongue for a while before swallowing. She closed her eyes when the soothing, warming sensation started spreading through her body.
She knew she'd be freezing if it weren't for the alcohol. On a balcony ten stories high and wearing nothing but a red dress that left her entire back exposed to the cold night air, Sara needed the extra warmth. Not that she was even aware of the weather anyway, her mind was elsewhere.
Right about now she'd commit mass murder if that would somehow allowed her to swap her night dress for a pair of jeans and a T-Shirt. She felt too. . .too something in an attire that let just anybody see her back from neck to, well. . . too far down for her taste.
Sara leaned forward on the edge of the balcony and peered downwards, the glass in her hand. It reminded her one of her first calls as a rookie. Splattered version of a human being who looked like the hotel's doormat. He'd dived to his death from a top floor.
"So Sidle, what do you think?" Ron –her supervisor back then- had asked, testing her.
Rookie brown eyes still looking upwards, she'd said: "I think it's pretty high."
Ron had smiled and told her she was going to go somewhere in the crime business. His last rookie had almost hyperventilated when he had asked him 'what do you think?'
Ron was nothing like Grissom.
Sara frowned. From this height, people looked like ants. How could anyone look down and have the courage to take that the leap was beyond her. The faraway ground made her woozy with vertigo.
She leaned back.
A voice startled her, causing the glass to slip from her hand and shatter upon impact with the floor beside her heels.
Spilt champagne glistened along with the twinkling of shredded crystal.
Delicate little things champagne glasses, Sara thought.
Sara looked up to see who had deprived her of her beloved -and current best friend- Mr. Bubbly Champagne.
Grissom. In a suit.
There were times in life when something was so blatantly obvious that everyone was aware of it. Grissom looked strikingly handsome that night. No two ways about it.
Unless intriguing, quiet, polite, blue-eyed and greyish-haired CSIs weren't your cup of tea.
If Sara had been tempted to delude herself into thinking he was not, the other women at the party would've made sure to write her a reality check and slap her in the face with it, multiple times.
After they'd seen her exchange a few words with him, teams of women had discreetly approached her. After a pretense at small talk, they went right down to business and asked if 'the guy she'd been talking to' was single, only to interrupt Sara's reply with a lascivious: 'No way that is on the market'.
But it was. Just. . . not for sale.
Grissom in a black suit had all the charm and allure of a sort of quiet version of Frank Sinatra in the old Las Vegas. He made the heads of women from 25 to 60 turn and take notice.
Sara hated that. No two ways about that either. Despite recognizing how irrational it was, she hated it.
Oh and Grissom wasn't at all unhappy about being asked the time on numerous occasions and being shamelessly drooled on by woman who would be happy if they could make out with him under the buffet table for 15 minutes. Sara had actually overheard that, word for word. Now every time she couldn't spot Grissom around she would involuntarily glance towards the buffet table and wonder if Grissom was under it, canoodling with some stranger.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you," he said apologetically.
A few years back Sara would have been on cloud nine just to be at the same party as he -Atwater's voters-keep-me-in-mind party- but a few years ago were like ten Las Vegas years. Years of up and downs, lefts and rights, swerves and skids and a few screeches, courtesy of Grissom.
Sara no longer felt the same, she didn't know exactly when had it happened but she'd changed. Las Vegas had changed her in some way she still couldn't fully comprehend. Nick had changed her. Catherine had changed her. Warrick had certainly changed her. Grissom had. . .done something too.
Sara gave him an absent shrug of her bare shoulders as she stepped over the glittering puddle of champagne and splintered glass into dry land. She swivelled her head back to the twinkling cityscape.
Never mind the champagne, she thought.
"Nick's been looking for you. He was about to barge into the ladies room to find you," Grissom said, glancing at the neon lit sky of Las Vegas, hoping to find what had Sara so riveted she'd hardly acknowledge his presence.
Grissom waited to see one of her smiles but all he saw was the tentative start of one and he sensed it had to do with the mention of Nick's idea and not him.
He took two steps to be a bit closer to her –not too close- when Sara's spoke without even looking at him.
"What are you doing here?"
He stopped at the second step as if he'd hit a force field.
"I'm your search party," he replied with a casual shrug. Sara was still looking at the city.
Grissom frowned and looked around, slightly uncomfortable.
Although his eyes were trying their hardest not to wander over the shapely length of her body, his gaze often did. If he could, he'd order Sara not to wear that red dress ever again. It distracted him.
And not too many things distracted him.
The slinky red dress was one with her skin in all the right places and loose as the admiring eyes travelled down the mesmerizing curves. Hair pulled up to give everyone an unobstructed view of a perfect back had been the final touch to make any man wish he were the dress.
Even Warrick had admitted –with a tone of dawning realization- that Sara looked like a model taken out of a fashion magazine, one of those who looked like the most care-free creatures on Earth, enjoying a cocktail party of the rich and famous and clad in the last fabric-brainchild of some famous Italian designer.
Sara truly looked all that except for the care-free part, he noted now. There was a hypnotizing aura of mystery that almost made her glow. She had always been a puzzle to him, even in jeans, but that night had been different.
An hour ago Grissom started suspecting something was wrong when he'd caught Catherine looking at Sara with that sixth-sense glint in her eyes. He knew it was something besides sheer pride. Catherine had gagged Sara and hustled her into a shopping spree after she'd been done with him. The two seemed to have made peace.
His suspicions were confirmed when Sara disappeared from sight half an hour ago, leaving Nick, Warrick and a dozen other men wondering where the 'chocolate and strawberry dessert' was. 'Chocolate' hair and eyes, 'strawberry' dress. Howard Something-or-other had nicknamed Sara that and it had elicited several laughs and saucy comments from the men around him.
Grissom hadn't laughed or commented.
In the back of Grissom's mind, behind a door that said 'Sara Sidle', he was hoping he wouldn't find her with a man.
Grissom couldn't help it but no matter what he was doing or to whom he was talking, his eyes would always make a quick scan of the ball room, looking for Sara. He'd seen her talking –flirting- with several guys. All young and handsome but he sensed none of them had snatched her attention for more than five minutes.
As long as you could keep Sara on her toes, you had her undivided attention, Grissom knew that.
Except for rare occasions, Grissom always had her attention. He knew that too, even if he refused to come to grips with the reason why.
"Tell Nick I'm here, then. You can go now," she said without stirring a muscle.
He didn't have her attention now.
If the hair around her face hadn't been swaying to the rhythm of the cold breeze, he would have thought she was a white marble statue. A strikingly beautiful life-like ornament to go along with the white marble balustrade she was leaning her elbows on.
He saw the tension in her back.
His eyes followed the faint line of her spine.
What would her skin be like under his fingertips?
He frowned and shook his head slightly.
See? Distracting. Too distracting.
"Aren't you cold?" he asked.
She shook her head slowly. He felt as though Sara's force field was getting stronger, pushing him away. It seemed to Grissom that their relationship had swerved from good to bad again.
When Grissom didn't make a move to leave, Sara spoke. "I'm not cold, all right?" she said, trying to send a clear message of 'go away' without snapping at him.
He stared at her for a silent and tense moment, searching in his head for the right words that never came. Then he started to walk away, misreading her curt attitude as a desire to be left alone.
He licked his lips before turning around. Sara hadn't moved an inch, still the unreachable perfect statue, only the red dress fluttering in the breeze.
Grissom's voice was worried.
She didn't turn around.
It was driving him crazy.
He wanted to shake her and make her look at him.
"Sara?" he said again, it sounded a bit like a plea.
Please look at me.
Please smile at me like you always do.
Please turn around and say 'What?'
Her head snapped around. "What?" she demanded impatiently.
That hadn't been the tone Grissom had pictured.
Her gaze was so intimidating that it made Grissom's blue eyes sink to the floor for a second. He recovered quickly though.
He was glad she was looking at him even if he didn't like what he was seeing.
"It's too cold, you'll get sick," he said in a weak voice, almost afraid of what her reaction would be. Sometimes Sara could be so intense she'd scare him.
Her eyes bore into his from a distance, trying to tell him something words could never express as accurately. Grissom stood still and returned her gaze from afar, worried but unable to see a way of breaking the ice that she seemed to have built around her.
She shook her head, as if giving up on something.
She turned back to the city's landscape as if he'd never spoken a word, as if he weren't even there.
Today, Grissom decided suddenly, he was not in the mood for one of Sara's tantrums. No matter how beautiful she looked.
Maybe because of how beautiful she looked. Somehow he felt threatened by Sara that particular night. Tonight she seemed to make him more nervous, more wordless and more attracted to her than on a regular day.
He couldn't let Sara know that because, knowing her curious nature, she would manage to corner him, say something he couldn't possible respond to and leave before he could even stammer a reply and their relationship would get one degree colder.
He sighed in exasperation and dug his hands in his pants' pockets. When he spoke, he was not pleading anymore. It was a request bordering on an order. He knew Sara's firewall was up and running at full strength, protecting God knew what from him.
No more Mr. Nice guy, Grissom thought.
In reality, he didn't want her to get sick and if Bossy-Grissom could make Snappy-Sara get inside, it was fine with him.
Without looking at him she said, "I don't care if I get sick, ok?" Long eyelashes lowered and her eyes came to rest on her hands.
After a brief shock Grissom strode towards her and this time, he halted inches away from her. He didn't know it, just as she had never realized it, just how close they got when they were concentrated on something.
"What is going on?" His voice was like a whisper, secretive almost, like the two of them shouldn't be heard speaking with each other.
She glanced at him, frowning. "Nothing," she replied.
Most of the times that 'nothing' meant 'a lot'.
Up until tonight, Sara had been outspoken and forthright about her feelings towards Grissom. If she thought he was being an idiot, she'd inform him that. If she thought he was getting out of control, she'd let him know that, too. Even when others wouldn't dare getting anywhere near him, Sara just got inside the cage with the lion while the rest stared from behind the safety of the bars.
But tonight. . .tonight it wasn't going to be that easy. She didn't feel like talking to a wall anymore. She was sick and tired of going around in circles.
. . . He takes a month off work, goes who-knows-where, comes back all happy-go-lucky and with a beard, treats her like she deserves, then starts ignoring her again. . .
Grissom's head recoiled at Sara's voice. Concern becoming overshadowed by a familiar frustration. Sara could be just as uncommunicative as he could when something was bothering her. She'd give the impression of being as unreachable as eternal bliss.
Grissom's voice was firm. "You better solve that nothing before coming to work tomorrow night. I'm not working with you like this."
That got her attention, like a red flag to a bull. She swivelled her head to look at him but looked away a second later.
"You can always have me work with Nicky, if I bother you so much." She paused. "That seems to be your M.O," Sara delivered the line smoothly and didn't need to see Grissom's face to confirm it had had an impact, Grissom's silence spoke loud and clear.
If you'd been at the party and happened to wander over to the balcony and find them at that precise moment, you would have seen the tension between them. Tension so strong and palpable you could have cut it with a knife.
You would've wanted to watch what was going to happen between those dazzling two people. They seemed to be poised either for a monumental fight or a passionate kiss.
The truth was, they were somewhere in between.
"Like I said." Grissom's voice was firm, somewhat more bossy than before because Sara had hit the nail in the head, like she always did.
"Solve it before tomorrow's shift," he finished.
Sara sulked like she did when someone told her something she'd rather not hear and returned to her snubbing.
When Grissom turned around she muttered 'jerk', convinced Grissom was too far away to even hear it.
She was wrong.
Grissom's world stopped moving.
Slowly, a very puzzled, very astounded Gil Grissom twirled around. "What?"
Sara held her unflappable posture, completely ignoring Grissom's question.
He shook his head, shocked. "Ok. What did I do now? What was so awful that you called me 'jerk' for the first time in ten years?"
Grissom spoke as if she were a snivelling needy child, always bothering him with her inconsequential complaints and that just fanned the flames of Sara's pent-up anger. She despised that weary 'what now' tone he used.
Although she wanted to say countless things to him – some of them truly nasty - her lips remained pressed together, looking like they'd never open.
Grissom tried again. His voice was controlled but Sara's silence was certainly starting to get on his nerves.
"Tell me," Grissom urged.
He realized how frustrating it was when you wanted to talk and the other person didn't. He wanted to make her snap out of it.
Grissom wish was granted.
Sara turned around.
"Nothing Grissom! I just felt like calling you a jerk, ok? Satisfied?!"
She turned back to the city as soon as the last words were uttered. She was fuming.
Grissom frowned and glanced sideways before asking, "You just. . . felt like it?"
Sara huffed when she realized Grissom wasn't going to drop it. Her state of mind was oscillating between puzzlement, anger and exhaustion.
Right then she was leaning towards exhaustion. "It just slipped. You're not a jerk, you have been a perfect text-book gentleman all night. Happy? Now go away. Nick must be worrying."
Grissom didn't know it but he was poking at a hornet's nest.
Poking, poking, poking. . .
He rose an skeptic eyebrow. From 'jerk' to 'gentleman' is ten seconds. "No, I'm not happy."
. . .poking.
She closed her eyes briefly and took a deep breath.
He'd gone too far.
She spun around. "You know why you are a jerk? Because you've been a perfect gentleman!" she blurted. She collected her thoughts immediately and her voice came out controlled, that way he couldn't accuse her later of being 'emotional'.
"Last couple of weeks you've been treating me as if I had leprosy or something, before that you treated me like a human being with feelings and -get this- before that you would think addressing a word or two to me would hurt you physically. I'm not asking for a three-hour chat, just enough words so I don't feel like I've done something horrible."
He frowned again, his mouth partially open trying to grasp some of the meaning in her words and failing miserably.
Sometimes he swore women had entire conversations with him, drew their conclusions, got angry about them and all without him knowing and only to get to this exact point where they knew what they were talking about but he didn't have the foggiest idea.
He'd thought Sara was different. Well, after all she is a woman, he reminded himself.
"If you're going to ignore me at least be consistent, Grissom. Don't be nice one second and then act as if I had some kind of weird disease you don't want to catch the next. You want to treat me like that? Fine! But don't expect me to jump for joy and cheer like a little girl when you suddenly start treating me the way you used to. I'm not 25 anymore."
Sara's statement was the last thing Grissom had expected from this night. It had sent his mind reeling and scrambling to remember any instances when he had actually acted as Sara described.
True, before the surgery he hadn't been himself, but that was reasonable given the decisions he'd had to make. When you were performing full-time denial acrobatics as he had done with his hearing problems, you changed a little. You spent more time with your thoughts –wishing the scary, intermittent deafness would go away- and worrying about yourself, than paying attention to other people. Especially when you hadn't been paying attention to other people to start with.
Despite this admission, quickly –too quickly- Grissom concluded that he had not treated Sara that way.
"I do not treat you like that," Grissom said calmly. His mind rattled by what he witnessed immediately after his reply.
Sara glanced to her left and smiled the sultriest and wryest of smiles. He'd never seen her smile like that.
"Really?" she asked but turned her face to the cityscape, leaving that simple yet complicated question lingering in the night air.
As a matter of fact, Sara was still reluctant to sustain a serious conversation with Grissom. Not now and by the way things were looking, not ever.
Grissom on the other hand was in way over his head. Sara was not making any sense but in Grissom's mind, the only signal she'd sent clearly was that this was not the CSI he'd brought to Las Vegas years ago.
This was dangerous, it was unknown. Sometime that evening his Sara had been switched for a stranger.
He had never been comfortable with the unknown. It was better to skirt around the new thing and ignore it until he had no other option but to confront it. That way he bought himself some time to prepare for it.
Time, it turns out, was the issue between supervisor and supervisee.
There was one other great concern in Grissom's mind: less than 50 feet from where they were standing were half a dozen press people, Sheriff Atwater, Cavallo and Conrad Ecklie. Normally, he wouldn't give a rat's ass about any of them but Catherine had pointed out that Las Vegas troubled waters needed oil, not another storm. A difficult case a week ago had put Ecklie even more at odds with Grissom, the disagreement had leaked to the press and no one wanted a Lab with a reputation of having contradicting reports.
At the end Grissom had been right and Ecklie had been. . .royally pissed. Grissom knew that shark was waiting to attack at the faintest trace of blood in the water.
Grissom didn't know it, but blood was about to appear, in more ways than one.
"I don't know—." He interrupted himself and he glanced towards the balcony's wide entrance doors, suddenly realizing that his voice was to loud.
Grissom glanced back and forth between Sara and the entrance to the balcony, wrestling with two choices: tell her they'll discuss it tomorrow or risk a one-on-one with her right then.
He decided he did not want to try and defuse the ticking bomb Sara represented right now. One wrong move and . . .bang!
Grissom blew a breath and practically stomped towards Sara while he spoke in a subdued, warning voice. "I don't know what all that's suppose to mean but I don't think this is the appropriate place to call your supervisor a 'jerk'."
Grissom didn't know he'd looked so angry as to make Sara do what she did when he closed in on her. She retreated a step as Grissom came within a foot of her as if he were the one with the force field now. In the process of backing up, Sara stepped on the shattered glass.
She sucked air thought her teeth and instinctively bent her leg to wrap her hand around her ankle and gripped the balustrade with the other.
Grissom's tension vanished the second he saw pain flash across Sara's features. She looked no different than when she'd burnt her pinkie doing one of his experiments back in San Francisco. Nothing like the stranger to whom he'd been talking to the last 20 minutes.
"You cut yourself?" he asked, now deeply concern about Sara. She didn't respond, so Grissom told her to step out of the glass and hand him her foot. She walked away from the glass and him.
"I'm ok, Grissom," she replied, nonchalantly setting her injured foot back on the ground. She winced. Grissom stepped towards her and squatted on the floor, hand outstretched and waiting for her foot.
In San Francisco she'd given him her hand for him to 'asses the damage' the first time he'd asked, Grissom remembered. She'd even smiled and said 'ok, doc'.
Grissom blew an impatient breath and quickly peeked down until he saw her toes then did a little bit of fast calculations and deftly reached for her ankle. Sara had to lean her hands on his shoulders not to crumple to the ground.
"You're about the most stubborn person I've ever met," he muttered under his breath, not meaning for her to hear him.
Sara snorted a laugh.
Yeah, Sara thought. Except when you look in the mirror.
"I do not want to hear a sentence from you involving mirrors," he cautioned while he looked for the shard of glass.
Sara rolled her eyes and looked heavenwards, biting her lower lip and shaking her head at the statement.
He read her mind now but he couldn't see that she'd been miserable for the past months. God had wired this man wrong, Sara thought.
The scent of his cologne floated upwards and straight into Sara's face. She breathed in and closed her eyes for a second. The smell screamed: 'I'm clean, I'm sexy and wouldn't you like to smell me all the time?' The scent definitely tickled that part of her brain she was desperately trying to ignore right now.
Her eyes came to rest on his neck. She bit her lower lip, as if she were staring at a delicious muffin she ached to take a bite out of.
"Ahh!" She glanced down and attempted to retract her foot from his prying hand. "You're making it worse. Let me go, Grissom. I'd rather die of an infection."
Grissom ignored her voice and held her ankle firmly. "Shh, be still."
There was a short silence in which the atmosphere changed from tense to familiarly calm as Grissom tried to take the shard out. He felt Sara's warm hands on his shoulders, using him as support and her gaze above his head. If someone walked in on them right then they would have a lot to explain.
That brought a surge of panic.
"There," he said finally, removing the glass and flicking it to the ground. He glanced up and locked eyes with Sara, who was looking down.
He was still holding her ankle and one of her hands still rested on his shoulder. For a second they weren't Grissom and Sara, they were two different people who had just met at a party. He was touching her and she was touching him, no embarrassing moments.
Suddenly there was a flash of fear in Grissom's eyes - he'd realized they were an easy target. He let go of her ankle and Sara did the same with his shoulder. There was an all too familiar silence and then Sara shook her head wryly and strode away.
"Always the same with you, huh?" Sara said as she returned to her earlier spot near the balustrade.
Grissom's eyes lowered, attempting to conceal something from her he was certain Sara would've read in his eyes. He knew what she was referring to and that was off limits. She knew that.
She knows it, Grissom thought, but that has never stopped her before. Adept line-crosser, Sara was. Not this time though, she stayed on her side of the fence and urged him to retreat to his corner.
"Better go tell Nick I'm here," she said in a quiet voice, ending a discussion that hadn't even started.
After a small silence Sara's head swivelled around, expecting to see him leaving but her heart skipped a beat when she saw Grissom's face. Then she felt something on her shoulders, she didn't turn around to face him.
"I'm gonna head back inside," his voice said, a few inches from her ear. "But keep this on, it's too cold," he finished. His hands were on her shoulders, pressing slightly, pleading her to accept it.
He felt Sara's head lolling back, as if she were about to lean on him and ask him to do a bit of stargazing together. Grissom froze, the movement had been so small he thought maybe he had imagined it. He looked down at her shoulders, his hands were still there and he couldn't move them. He didn't want to.
"Ok," Sara said and she realized they were having one of those moments. Like when their gazes locked and stayed locked long enough for them to wonder why did they do that. More weird than 'magical', it left them both –more Sara than Grissom- wondering if the other had refrained from saying something.
One of his hands crept up her shoulder, over the fabric of his jacket and then, after a moment's hesitation, one of his fingers touched the back of her neck.
Just a touch first, as if making sure an alarm wasn't going to wail the second he lay a finger on her.
Sara felt him release a contained breath. At first, she told herself he'd touched her by mistake; but when that one finger was quickly joined by two others, she knew the impossible was happening. Her heart began to pound in her chest, air seemed to be trapped inside her lungs, she was unable to exhale.
How come she didn't tell him he couldn't do that? Wasn't she mad at him? Would the self-reliant no-nonsense Sara Sidle ever stop yielding to Grissom's smiles or sporadic nice comments?
As though hypnotized by her skin, his fingers glided slowly up her neck.
He wasn't doing anything wrong. . . right? He just wanted to know if her skin felt as soft as it looked. It had been an impulse, his fingers were already touching before he consciously ordered them to.
He could touch her right? As long as he didn't try to do anything else. . .
He wasn't doing anything else and he sure as hell wasn't going to try and DO anything else.
Grissom's heart started to thud a bit stronger when Sara's head turned left, leaving her mouth temptingly close to his.
She was about to break years of tradition and reject him first, she could not take another one of Grissom's impromptu since–I-met-you moments and not at least grill him on the reason behind the comment. Unlike her, Grissom never seemed to think of the consequences of his actions.
Grissom was capable of doing rash things. He could say things to Sara without even appearing nervous when other men would've probably shut up or squirmed afterwards. That 'beauty' line wasn't something that would roll off the tongue of the average man.
Once in a while, Grissom did things that surprised even himself.
He leaned forward before she could say a word.
She didn't stop him.
Their lips touched once and slowly pulled apart, hovering close to each other for what seemed like an eternity.
They didn't move.
Grissom's hand was still on her shoulder, he was still behind her.
Never had a small innocent kiss meant so much.
It had taken them nearly ten years to get to this point.
Grissom leaned again, knowing for sure that he wanted more this time. He wanted much more.
But he leaned back immediately.
God, what am I doing? He thought.
Grissom was the type of person that, being extremely independent, became nothing short of terrified when he realized he wanted something very much. So much that even in Atwater's party he hadn't been able to stop before it got that far.
Grissom was, quite simply, bordering on a full-fledged panic attack. Where the hell had been his rational mind a few seconds ago?
Sara turned away from him without saying a word.
He took a step back and walked a good five feet away from her and leaned on the balustrade, mimicking her earlier position.
Sara didn't move, she just studied Grissom's every move, trying to gauge his feelings. All she saw was Grissom acting as if he'd committed the worst sin of all times and he was going to be punished greatly for it.
Worst of all, she was the sin.
He rubbed his eyes wearily and sighed a long 'what the hell did I do' sigh.
Sara was in a sort of emotional bittersweet cocktail. She still felt his hands on her face, she still felt his warm breath closer than ever to her mouth and she still felt a bit woozy and she knew it had nothing to do with the champagne.
But at the same time, her fears had been confirmed.
She sighed a sigh of her own, very different from Grissom's sigh. It was more of the resigned kind. At this point in their relationship Sara felt entitled to certain past-due explanations. No matter where they were or the herd of press people that lurked nearby.
She pushed aside her earlier argument. Things had changed now. There were more important questions than 'why do you sometimes treat me like a Kleenex?'
"Why am I so terrifying to you?" He glanced at her, brows furrowing. "Look at you, standing there, five feet away from me acting as though you think I might attack you or something."
Her voice revealed a little more confidence. They'd stepped over a line with the kiss, no matter how small. In fact, she still couldn't believe it had happened although his jacket was still draped over her shoulders, shoulders that were still burning where his hands had been, her skin still tingled where his fingers had touched.
Grissom didn't look at her. Sara knew she was treading on delicate ground by asking the question. So delicate in fact that Sara was sure Grissom wouldn't answer. She started off to rejoin the party, not ready to cope with more rejection and chastising herself for yielding once again to the bizarre grasp Grissom still had on her.
After two strides Grissom's voice made her freeze.
"You're not 'terrifying'," Grissom said without turning around.
Sara stopped, but didn't turn around.
There was still a 99.9% possibility that those were going to be Grissom's final words on the matter. He seemed adept at leaving issues hanging in the air; nothing was ever stated clearly, no commitments were made and still, sentences were uttered but never finished.
That was Grissom, he dropped a few compliments here and there but he made sure he said them while he and Sara were about to process an ice rink or any other crime scene, that way the words would just whoosh by, leaving Sara happily confused.
Today she was not in the mood for Grissom's mystique because that had been the same flame that had attracted her to him in the first place and had burnt her too many times.
Once bitten, twice shy.
Or in Sara's case 100 times bitten, 101 shy.
Grissom was one of those flames that burnt you once and made you think it'd never do it again.
His next words surprised her.
"Your not terrifying . ..you're . . .you're Sara," he added with a shrug, still without turning around so Sara couldn't see the small smile that he knew would come to his lips.
"I know who I am."
He looked at her in the eyes and this time she did not look away. Something had changed, Grissom knew it. You don't kiss a woman you've known for ten years, that you've worked with countless nights, without something changing between the two of you.
Especially when you discovered that you wanted more than a kiss. And especially when you found out you had wanted more for a long time. A long time ago Sara had ceased to be the co-worker, off-limits former student who once had hung on his every word. She'd turned into something else for Grissom.
"I don't think you do," Grissom replied finally, returning his gaze to the twinkling lights of the city, their designated escape from each other's knowing eyes.
It surprised Grissom to hear his own voice speaking before he'd had a chance to thoroughly plan what Sara was going to hear. That didn't happen too often.
"You came this close, you know?" Grissom said to the city, holding his thumb and index finger at a tiny distance in front of Sara's face for her to see. His voice was back to business as usual. Great pretender, Grissom was.
"Me? Close?" she asked, frowning. "Close to what?"
He turned then, smiling at her naïveté and dampening the pang of love he felt at the sight of her cute brows furrowing innocently.
For Grissom, Sara had always had that certain innocent air to her despite being extremely sharp and feisty. She was dangerously innocent sometimes, like when it concerned human nature. Or perhaps he'd become too distrusting, too worldy-wise. Everybody was a suspect for him, no one was off the hook. Not even her.
"To tainting your career, Sara," he replied, looking away before her beautiful and confused face crashed his resolve of dosing the flames now, before they leaped and grew into an uncontrollable fire that consumed them both.
He interpreted her silence as a sign that she was processing his words.
"You would've gotten in trouble too," she replied finally, as Grissom had anticipated.
"True," he conceded, tilting his head towards hers. "But my career is. . .at the end stage. Yours is just beginning."
Sara nodded to herself slowly.
"I see," she said, pondering the difference and reaching a startling conclusion. "What if I told you I don't give a damn about 'my career'?"
Grissom's quiet laugh seemed to come from deep within his throat, controlled and decorous, it went perfectly with the expensive suit Cath had picked, given Grissom's aversion for fashion. The laugh had sounded like he was amused and sad at the same time.
Before she knew it, Grissom was serious again.
"I would tell you that you don't even believe that."
She looked down shyly and smiled. Yeah, he was right. Her career did matter to her but there were other things she cared about too.
He continued. "I would tell you that I do care."
His mind more clear now, not so clouded by temporary insanity. "I would tell you that you have to understand the circumstances and forget about whatever you're thinking right now or were a few minutes ago," he paused and then added, "I should too."
Sara smiled. She rubbed her hands together as she did sometimes when she was sort of confused, sort of enlightened. Weird state to be in if you had ever experienced it.
"You know what's funny?" She didn't wait for him to ask. "You've danced to the same tune for years. Forget and move on, two basic steps. I know both of them because you made me learn them. 'Forget and move on' 101. Lesson learned, Professor. Excellent teaching."
They looked at each other at the same time. Sara smiling sadly, Grissom surprised by her words.
"I was ready to forget it all even before you asked me to. That's. . .that's sad. Two years ago I wouldn't have been so ready. But now. . ." She shrugged.
He held her gaze for a second and then looked away.
To that, Grissom didn't have a reply, comeback or quote of any sort from some deceased literary master.
And to think that there was nothing more rewarding, purely fun, interesting and exiting to him than teaching Sara Sidle new things. It had always been like that. Watching her brown eyes eagerly absorb whatever new information he was saying. She'd always been like a sponge with an auditory memory that was out of this world.
Most importantly, Grissom thought, he really cherished and loved those times –which were getting more frequent by the week- when she taught him something he didn't know.
He hadn't wanted to teach her that. He didn't want to turn her into. . .him. But he was, she was right, two years ago Sara Sidle would have never been willing to forget a kiss.
He wanted her to be happy. He also wanted her close to him. . .but not too close.
Not too close with other men either, he knew now he couldn't take that. Finding out she'd been going out with 'Hank' had been a real eye-opener. Just the possibility of Sara hooking up with that was like nails on a board. The thought of its arm around her was revolting. Truth had hit Grissom hard that day, when Phillip dropped the news.
He realized that he didn't want to hear Sara talk, mention, allude to or hint about her "friend", where they had been together- if they had been together. And he'd made it clear in his Grissom-way one night by a pool. When had he told her to get a life with that bigamist in the making? Get a life but not with him.
So, what option did all those requirements leave?
Not too close. . .not too far away. Not with Hank. . . and probably not with any other man either.
Get a life. . .but don't be late when I page you.
Grissom took a deep wavering breath as if he were preparing for a long speech. He looked up and found her eyes on him. "Sara, I'm--."
"Grissom?" a voice behind them said.
Sara and Grissom turned around to face the voice's owner.
TBC. . .