Spoilers:pretty much everything up to and including "Butterflied"
Summary:GSR angst/romance, post-Buttterflied. Sara's feeling restless, and decides to take a chance on Grissom feeling the same way.
Author's Notes:Just an idea that planted itself in my head after seeing "Butterflied" last week, and wouldn't go away. Thanks to Charli for beta reading this, and any feedback would be much appreciated – I still feel kinda new to this 'ship!
Restlessness wasn't something she was accustomed to. Insomnia, nightmares when she did sleep, even solitude, were all feelings she knew, and more importantly knew how to deal with. But this incessant need to do something accompanied by a lack of concentration for whatever thing she chose to do was unfamiliar, and incredibly frustrating.
Dropping her latest forensic journal onto the duvet, which also covered her legs, she allowed herself to drop back against the pillows, clenching her fists in frustration. She'd tried watching television, but nothing had caught her interest for more than a couple of seconds. Her computer yielded the same results – there was no one to talk to, and even the few forensic boards she visited held little, if any new information for her to consider. She hadn't had the energy to clean, didn't have any shopping to do and couldn't really be bothered to do any other household chores.
Images, phrases and questions insisted on invading her thoughts on a frustratingly regular basis. Debbie Marlin's almost uncanny resemblance to her was pretty scary if she was completely honest, and Grissom's reaction to that had her thoroughly puzzled.
Possibly the real reason for her restlessness, she admitted reluctantly. His words to Dr Lurie kept battling their way into her thoughts, manifesting themselves inside her head and making her question everything she'd based her last few months existence on.
"…Somebody young and beautiful shows up. Somebody... we could care about. She offers us a new life with her ... ... but we have a big decision to make, right? Because we have to risk everything we've worked for in order to have her. I couldn't do it..."
Her eyes darted towards the phone, but she caught herself quickly. Even if he had admitted that, it sounded so final. So closed…so why would he want to hear from her that he'd sent her thoughts into disarray…
She'd ached for some kind of closure on the subject, previously. Even if it were negative, she'd just wanted to be able to live her life again. Even if it meant getting over him, she'd just wanted to know something, for certain.
But now, how could that happen? Realistically, how could she get over him when she knew that he had felt something, had thought about her like she had him? He'd been scared though, and decided that she wasn't important enough to take that risk? Was that what he'd been saying?
Because if it was, it hurt. It burned a hole through everything that she'd built her life in Las Vegas around.
And again, she found herself questioning everything. When she'd first arrived in Vegas, everything had held so much promise. Grissom had asked her to handle an investigation that was clearly critically important to him, and the trust that accompanied that had warmed her heart. The anticipation of seeing him again, and the flurry of emotions she'd gotten caught up in whenever she was around him had made everything worth it…
But then things changed. Then he started blowing hot and cold…and he wasn't the Grissom she'd known so well. He wasn't the Grissom she'd talked for hours with about cases, both over the phone in San Francisco, and in person in Vegas…until things started getting weird that was.
And now…it was weird again. Right as she'd become almost immune to him, when she'd accepted that maybe he didn't feel anything for her, he'd pushed to the forefront of her thoughts once more and confused everything.
If she could just know for certain, one way or the other…if she could get herself out of this unfamiliar territory and back somewhere she had some control over, maybe everything would seem clearer.
But she had to rely on him for that…which was something she wasn't too sure about anymore. Three years ago she would have willingly trusted him with her life…which she still did in professional situations, but personally it had all disintegrated with the breakdown of their friendship.
She shook her head and reached over to grasp the phone. Hesitating for a moment, she leant back against the pillows once more, the phone resting in her hands. Could she really not try and figure this out? Could she live with herself if she didn't take this opportunity to resolve things one way or the other?
Almost against her will, she found herself dialling the number she'd long ago memorised. Lifting the phone to her ear, she reasoned it was now or never as the familiar ringing sounded once…twice…three times.
'Grissom' his voice filled her thoughts suddenly, and she started slightly, cursing the effect he still managed to have on her.
'Hey…' she managed, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping an arm around them.
'Sara?' he queried, clearly slightly unsure about this turn of events.
'Are you having as many problems as I am with distancing yourself from that case?' she asked gently, waiting for his answer.
'If you mean am I still awake when science suggests I should be collapsed with exhaustion, then yes'
'If that's all you've got to offer, you're not as bad as me. Sleep is the last of my worries. I can't watch television, I can't read, I can't concentrate on anything computer-related…I can't even clean.' She laughed slightly, the irony of the situation taking over her thoughts. 'I don't even really know why I called you' she lied, trying to think of a way to ease into the conversation. 'I guess I miss the way we used to talk'
'I miss it too', he admitted, after a significant pause. His words were quiet, but she knew exactly what she'd heard. 'I guess we let too many things get in the way…'
'Don't, Gris' she stopped him, not wanting any excuses. 'I, uhh…I heard what you said today. In the interview.'
'Oh?' he stammered, not trusting himself to form coherent sentences as he struggled to process her words.
'Observation room. I wanted to hear what that guy had to say for himself…guess I let myself in for a lot more than I bargained for'
'Sara its not…I mean, I don't make a habit of discussing…stuff like-'
'Don't, don't make excuses. There's nothing you can do to change what you said, and to be perfectly honest it needs to be discussed' she said, trying to hide the frustration edging its way into her voice. The pause that ensued between them threatened to destroy any hope she might have mustered…
'Okay, let's discuss it. But I'm promising nothing.' She sat there, stunned.
'I…Christ, I wasn't expecting that Grissom. No promises just talk, fine with me' she managed, with an embarrassed chuckle. 'Surprises seem to be your strong point today'
'I guess I'm tired of being alone' he offered, clearly accepting that honesty was the only option now.
'Try being me' she offered, shaking her head and stretching her legs out in front of her. 'You have no idea how lonely it gets sometimes. I bet you've never lain alone wishing you had someone who could just hold you when the nightmares leave you shaking. And then, someone turns up who could change all that…but they're not consistent. Some days you're left thinking they might be that person, and others you're convinced they practically hate you.' Exhaling, she shook her head slightly, figuring it was now or never. 'I need to know Gris, cause it's tearing me up. I need to know if I've got to get over you, if I've got to stop believing you might be the end to this solitude…'
'Please, don't make me walk away again' she whispered.
'I don't want you to walk away. I never did'
'So why do you make me?' she queried, her voice sounding alien to her.
'I don't know. Every time I say or do something that hurts you, I hate myself a little more' he replied, the hint of pain clearly evident in his voice.
'Sometimes it just…feels like no one cares. You've been the one person I've felt something for, and even that was uncertain because I could never tell how you'd be the next day. Sometimes I just felt like crying, Grissom. And I don't cry'
'I had no idea you were so lonely'
'I was' she agreed softly, squeezing her eyes shut tightly for a moment. 'But I don't want it to be like that anymore. I can't handle life on my own anymore. I need someone to take away the loneliness'
'You have nightmares?' he asked, seemingly abruptly, until Sara recalled her earlier words.
'Since I was a kid. Normally one or two a month, if there are no cases that hit home'
'And if there are?'
'If there are, I have bad periods' she shrugged, forgetting he couldn't see her. 'Ironically, I'm kinda used to it. My parents' thought it was all to get attention, I guess their attitude rubbed off on me'
'I never knew all that' he commented softly, almost regretfully.
'There's a lot of stuff you don't know'
'It was never that I didn't want to…see what happened. I just felt like there was such a conflict – the whole personal and professional debate. Like I couldn't have both at the same time, and I didn't know what to do. I've worked so hard to get where I am. My job was everything I'd ever wanted, until I met you' He spoke slowly, and Sara listened intently.
'That day, when I asked you to have dinner…I laid everything I had out Gris. I had nothing else to offer, and to tell you the truth I was more petrified than I'd ever been for a long time. Maybe it wasn't the best of times to start something, but it felt like the loneliness was about to take over'
'Was Hank a solution to the loneliness?'
'He's not worth words, Grissom. I guess in a way, yeah he made me feel a little less lonely. Superficially. But inside it wasn't ever more than friends. My life was still wrapped up around someone else'
'…Me?' he asked, very hesitantly.
'You. But we can go over and over everything that's already happened, and it still won't get us any further. I need to know what this all means. Whether what you said in that interview means you want…something.' She gripped the phone tighter, preparing herself to cope if his answer wasn't what she needed it to be.
'Don't think about it Grissom. Just tell me how you feel, without analysing it and changing it into what you should feel'
'You win, Sara.' Again, his voice took on that calm quality, not the anger or annoyance she was expecting, and it occurred to her that this was something he'd given serious thought to… 'You do something to me that I don't know how to deal with. I don't understand the way I feel when I'm with you, and it scares the hell out of me. You think I don't imagine, just for a second, what it would be like to be with you? Because I do…yet despite that, I still can't seem to do anything. The fact that it might all go wrong is always there, haunting me'
'So you're willing to give up the chance that it might be the best thing that's ever happened to both of us just because it might go wrong? Grissom we investigate crime scenes every day. You know there are no guarantees, but you try out new theories, new ideas, because you don't want to miss anything. Apply that theory to us. Think about it.' She took a deep breath, tugging her bottom lip between her lips as she waited for his response.
'Don't make me hurt you again' he whispered, the uncertainty in his voice threatening to undo her resolve to sort this out once and for all.
'It's come too far to call for a halt' she replied equally softly. 'It's now or never – I can't spend my life waiting for you, because I'm scared I'd end up resenting you'
'I'm not good with people, Sara. Have you stopped to consider what our relationship would be like? Being without you now is hard, but I don't think I could cope if I had you, and then I screwed it up'
'I've got no doubts. I can't say anything else, except that you were the reason I came here, the reason I stayed here, and you're the only reason I'm still here.' She interpreted the silence that fell between them as an answer to all of her questions, and struggled to find her voice once more. '…And I don't think I can cope being here, knowing that you feel something for me but you're too scared to act on it. It would hurt too much every time I saw you, every time I heard your voice – pretty much like it is now.' She stopped talking, reaching up a hand to wipe the stray tear from her cheek and wishing that wiping away her feelings could be as easy.
'Wait, Sara.' He interrupted her thoughts, and she tried to figure out the undertones in his voice.
'Yeah?' she managed, cursing the fact that her voice sounded so shaky. If she hadn't already given away that she was close to tears, that would've.
'I know that I've hurt you, and I don't want to keep on doing it. I'm absolutely terrified, but this is too important.'
'What does that mean, though? This can't be fixed with a…plant, Grissom. I need something more' she said cautiously, refusing to leave things unresolved, refusing to spend another year of her live in Vegas because of one flame of hope he lit before retreating back into his shell.
'You have to believe me when I say I don't know what I've got to offer' he said, causing her to shake her head and close her eyes briefly. 'So all I can do is try…I mean, if you're still willing to see what happens, then…so am I'
'It's all I've ever wanted to do' she offered simply, unable to form coherent thoughts, let alone sentences. 'We could…get breakfast sometime, work an occasional case together. No promises, no expectations'
'That sounds good.' He agreed, as a silence fell between them. 'Sara?' he asked eventually.
'Sorry. I was just thinking'
'This is all what I've missed the most. My life was based around a hope, a speculation. I felt like I'd lost a friend, and I couldn't even work comfortably with you like I used to.' She thought through what she'd said, and laughed softly. 'Sorry, I said no pressure'
'That doesn't mean you can't talk. Even if you overtalk,' he paused, letting her place the meaning of that word, 'its fine by me'
'You're really going to regret saying that someday' she pointed out. 'And you complain about me taping everything you say. The words pot, kettle and black spring to mind.' The laughter that passed between them relaxed her slightly, and she found herself yawning. 'Hey, I think I'm gunna try and get some sleep. That case isn't playing with my mind so much anymore' she commented softly. 'You should sleep too. Believe me, I know how much triple shifts muck up your sleep patterns'
'Yeah…' he trailed off, realising she'd read into that fact entirely correctly. 'Sara?'
'Next time you have a nightmare, call me yeah? I don't care what time it is, don't feel that you have to be on your own.'
'I might just take you up on that' she said softly, finding herself touched by the intimacy of that gesture. 'I'll see you tonight, Gil' she ventured, surprised that it didn't feel as strange as she'd expected.
'Bye…' he said slowly, leaving a smile on her lips as she placed the phone back in its cradle and collapsed onto the pillows once more. Shaking her head slightly, she realised that the idea of actually getting some sleep after that conversation was completely absurd, and was grateful she wasn't the one who'd worked god knows how many hours on that case.
Her thoughts remained on the conversation, and she smirked at the idea that it was a slightly unconventional way to start a relationship. But as long as it worked it was good enough for her, and if phone conversations were what it took for him to feel comfortable enough to open up, she supposed she could get used to that…some of the time anyway.
She hadn't wanted to leave Vegas, and she knew she would've waited a lifetime for him if she'd only given herself the chance. But now she was infinitely grateful to whatever caused his apparent change of mind, and she promised herself she'd find out sometime exactly what it was that had brought it about. She knew that if she didn't she'd find herself constantly wondering whether it was all to do with Debbie Marlin, or if that had just pushed his thoughts to a position where they simply couldn't be ignored.
After all, just because she'd told him there'd be no promises, surely that didn't extend to promising herself things!