Just a Headache
Disclaimer: I don't own them, but wish I did. No infringement is intended, I'm just having fun. Feedback is welcome, but not required; please be kind.
Spoilers: Not really, nothing about specific cases. I do, however, use knowledge about the characters that comes from various episodes.
Summary: A kind of follow-up to my earlier story "Elevator Experiment." Grissom has a headache, Sara has a heartache. Read on.
"Sara, come see me for a minute." Gil Grissom was standing in the doorway of his office when he spotted Sara Sidle coming down the hall.
"Sure, Griss. What's up?" Sara was smiling. She seemed to smile a lot these days.
Grissom smiled back. "Come in. Take a seat. I just wanted to touch base with you about that case we were on when that elevator thing happened."
Oh, yeah. That elevator thing. That thing that neither of them had mentioned since. He just hoped that she wouldn't mind him bringing it up now. And besides, it really was the case he wanted to discuss, not that, not the ... no, only the case.
Sara walked past him into his office and sat in the visitor's chair. She had long since gotten used to the rather peculiar, even bizarre, collection of things he kept in here. "About that case, all the evidence we collected has been processed. We're ready to have Brass make the arrest."
"That's what I wanted to tell you." Grissom sat back in his chair. "Our suspect is in custody, and the DA is willing to prosecute. It looks like a slam-dunk."
"That's great news. At least for the vic and us." Sara started to feel the "King Kong on cocaine" euphoria of a solved case. "Um, anything else?" 'Please', she thought, 'say something else, something about the elevator; it's been nearly 2 weeks.' She wanted to talk about what had happened that night, but she hesitated to mention it. After all, Griss was a guy, and guys don't always want to talk about stuff like that. She didn't want to embarrass him.
'Oh, Sara, yes. So much else. But...' "No, that's about it." She had never mentioned it. Maybe she wanted to forget it had happened. "Well, that and; you did excellent work that night."
Sara stood up. Excellent work that night. Right. Does he mean the case, or what happened in the elevator? Another typical Grissom riddle.
"How are you and Warrick doing on your new case?" Sara had been halfway out the office door when he asked.
"Hard to say. I'm waiting for Greg to finish the DNA analysis and a couple other tests. Warrick and Archie are working with some surveillance tapes. I'll keep you posted."
Just then, Grissom suddenly winced and put his head between his hands, thinking 'Not now, please not now. It's been months since the last one.'
"Grissom, you okay?" He had his glasses off and his eyes closed.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a headache."
Sara's beeper started to make noise. She looked at it. "Okay. That's Warrick. See you later."
Grissom opened his eyes to watch Sara leave, and immediately regretted it. The aura was back. A migraine on its own was bad enough, but the damned aura was all but unbearable. All those dancing lights, those weird shadows. None of it was real; of course, it was just his brain's temporary inability to correctly process visual stimuli. But while it was happening, it was disorienting and confusing, even frightening. He knew he needed his migraine meds, the sooner the better, but he hated having to take the stuff at work. The meds made him groggy, and he didn't want to seem stoned. Maybe coffee would help. A good caffeine fix just might buy him some time. He got up had headed for the break room.
"Hey, Gil. You look terrible." Catherine Willows was sitting in the break room going over some case notes.
"Thanks, Cath. I can always count on you for a kind word."
"What're friends for?" She put down the folder. "Okay, what's wrong?"
"Nothing. Just a headache."
"And that's why you just poured coffee into the sugar bowl."
Grissom looked down to see that it was true; he had indeed poured coffee into the sugar bowl. Great. He put the carafe back on the warmer, and turned to the sink to clean up his mess. At that very moment, Jim Brass came into the room.
"Hey, Gil. Having a little coffee with your sugar?" Brass was never at a loss for a wisecrack. Catherine was trying not to laugh out loud.
"Hi, Jim. Let's just call it a new experiment and leave it at that." Grissom was embarrassed. "What can I do for you?"
"Yeah, dispatch just called in a 419 on the Strip. Who's available?"
"I'll take it." Catherine volunteered.
Grissom said okay, and she should take Nick. Catherine went in search of her partner, Brass following close behind her. A few seconds later, Grissom realized that he was still holding the messy sugar bowl. He washed it out in the sink, dried it with a clean paper towel and was looking for more sugar to refill it when Sara came in.
"How's the coffee tonight?" She was filling her mug as she asked.
"Don't know. Haven't had any yet. Do we have any more sugar?" The migraine was getting worse. He needed coffee.
"Beats me. Who looks after supplies around here?"
"Never mind. I'll drink it without sugar."
"Still have the headache?" Sara sipped her coffee and grimaced. It tasted like last week's gym socks.
Grissom nodded and gulped down some of the horrid coffee. His stomach objected. Oh, no. Not that, too. A wave of nausea engulfed him.
"Griss, what's wrong?" He had almost forgotten that Sara was still there. He slammed his mug onto the counter, bolted for the door, and turned in the direction of the men's room. Concerned, Sara followed him into the hallway, and saw him knock Catherine into Nick in his haste. Nick caught Catherine; his quick reflexes, and his gentlemanly nature, saved her from an embarrassing fall.
The three of them watched as Grissom barreled into the men's room. Then Cath looked at Sara. "Must be a migraine, he gets them sometimes."
"Yeah, he said he had a headache. What can we do?"
"Not much. He has meds. But you know Gil, he probably won't admit that it's a migraine; and he won't want to take meds at work. Anyway, Nick and I are leaving on a case. Bye." Catherine headed for the door.
Nick called to her, "I'll be right there." With a glance at Sara, he quietly slipped into the men's room. A minute later, he emerged again. "He'll be okay, Sara. He's just a little indisposed right now. Sorry, I gotta roll." He didn't want to say it, but he had heard Grissom riding the porcelain bus. He and Sara said their "see ya later's" and he took off.
An hour later, Sara was sitting at her computer researching migraines on the Internet. She quickly realized that if Grissom did have one right now, and he very likely did; what he needed most was to take his meds and then try to sleep in a very dark, very quiet room. He needed to go home. She went looking for him.
After searching the entire building, she found him in one of the layout rooms – the quietest spot in the whole lab. The door was closed and the lights were off. He was sitting at the table, leaning forward; his arms were on the table, his head resting on his arms. His face was turned away from the door. She opened the door, and then hesitated. He looked like he might be asleep.
"Either come in or go out, but get that damn door shut." He spoke without looking up. She entered the room and quietly closed the door.
"Hey, Griss. Just wanted to see if the headache is any better." She spoke softly.
"No, Sara, it isn't. Please go now."
"Let me take you home."
"Take me home? What are you talking about?"
"You have a migraine. You need to go home and take your meds. I'll drive."
Now he sat up and looked at her. "Migraine? Why would you think I have a migraine?"
"Well, don't you? Look at the clues; sudden onset of extreme pain, then nausea – I suspect vomiting, too, but I wasn't in the men's room to know for certain. I can't tell if you also have the aura. And now I find you hiding in a dark, quiet room. I've done my homework. These are all signs of migraine. Oh, and I figure you wanted that coffee as a substitute for your meds." Sara knew she likely sounded confrontational, when really she was just worried about him.
"It's just a headache. I'll go home when the shift is over. Isn't there some work you should be doing right now?"
Catherine was right; Grissom just wasn't going to admit he had a migraine. Okay, play along with him. If it is just a headache, then maybe a little TLC would help. She quietly walked up behind him.
"Sara, I really want to be alone right now. What are you doing?"
She put her hands on his shoulders and started to gently massage the muscles. She could feel the knots of tension.
"Sara! Don't do that! If anyone walked in right now, this could be totally misconstrued."
She continued the massage, gradually increasing the pressure. "It's okay. You're so tense. Muscle tension contributes to headaches; this should help."
Grissom sighed; he just didn't have the energy to argue with Sara right now. The massage was helping a little. She kept on kneading his muscles. He had just started to relax under Sara's hands when he heard the unmistakable sound of approaching footsteps outside the door. "Sara, stop." He tried to pull away.
The door flew open. Greg Sanders stood there, silhouetted in the doorway. He immediately noticed what Sara was doing. "Hey, guys, people are looking for you. Whatcha doing in here?" He entered the room and closed the door as he said it. Sara dropped her hands and moved away from Grissom.
Grissom spoke first, sarcastically, "Making tortellini, Greg. Did you need me for something?"
Greg smiled at Sara, "I never heard it called that before. Actually, I have something for you, Sara. All results are in, and it's a washout. None of the evidence samples match anything. They don't match the suspect; they don't even match each other. CODIS gave me squat, too."
Sara was confused. "Greg, what are you saying? I have nothing on my case?"
"Could the two of you take this somewhere else?" Grissom wanted them to leave. The little progress he had made in getting his migraine under control was rapidly slipping away.
Greg responded to Sara as if Grissom wasn't even there, saying, "Not quite nothing. In keeping with my reputation as a major case-breaker, I just might have a new lead for you."
"Okay, people. I tried to be nice. Out! Now!" Grissom had had enough. Sara turned to him. "Grissom?"
"You heard me. The door is that way."
Greg opened the door and beckoned to Sara. "Let's go to my lab and I'll lay it all out for you."
Sara paused. As much as she needed to hear what Greg had to say, she wanted to stay here with Grissom. "I'll be right back."
"Just work your case, Sara. Don't worry about me."
"Yeah. Okay. Fine." Sara didn't like being brushed off like this. She did worry about him, whether he wanted her to or not. She reluctantly left the room and closed the door. Greg was waiting there.
As they walked towards the DNA lab, Sara spoke to Greg. "What did you mean back there? You never heard it called that before?"
Greg stopped walking. He replied, "I saw what you were doing, rubbing his shoulders in a dark room. It could have been romantic." He sounded flirtatious. "You weren't making tortellini. Don't explain; it's probably better if I don't know. But, just so you know; I won't tell anybody. It can be our little secret." He winked at Sara.
"No, Greg." Sara was annoyed. "He has a headache. I tried to help. End of story."
"Okay, Sara, whatever you say." He moved closer to her, his voice becoming intimate. "Maybe I have a headache, too. Wanna make tortellini?"
"Wanna take this outside? Just drop it, Greg." Sara retorted angrily.
Greg got the point. He sounded apologetic. "Sara, I'm sorry. But, allow me to say that you're very beautiful when you're angry." He smiled slightly. He did seem sincere.
"Apology accepted, Greg, but please; no more flirting. Let's just get on with the case." They did.
Grissom was still sitting in the layout room. Sara knew. She knew about his migraine. And what did he do? He denied it. He pushed her away. Again. What the hell was the matter with him anyway? What made him react to her that way? Yeah, he could use the migraine as an excuse; but that's all it would be – another lame excuse. He needed to figure out what to do; and he would. Just as soon as this migraine was gone.
His beeper beeped. With a groan, he pulled it out of his pocket and tried to make his eyes focus on the display. It was Bobby Dawson, the resident ballistics expert. Grissom guessed that Bobby D. just wanted to report some findings on a case Grissom had worked with Warrick. Not wanting to deal with it at the moment, he sent a text-message back to the bullet guy. All it said was "Tell Warrick."
He had just put his beeper away it went off again. "Why can't people just leave me alone?" he whined aloud. This time the message read, "Audrey Hepburn requests your presence in the break room." Audrey Hepburn? What the hell? Glancing at his watch, he saw that the shift was almost over. Yeah, okay. Migraine or no migraine, he was the supervisor. People might need to check in with him before clocking out. He slowly stood up and tried to steel himself for the sensory onslaught that was waiting on the other side of the door.
Sara waited in the break room, wondering if Grissom would figure out her Audrey Hepburn clue. She knew he loved those old movies, and he had even quoted from "Breakfast at Tiffany's" during the seminar where she had met him. She wanted to check on him again, but hesitated to go back to the layout room. A mysterious message, she thought, just might lure him out of his little hidey-hole.
Grissom, the migraine worse than ever, made his way back to his office. Along the way, various lab rats and other assorted CSI personnel tried to get his attention; they wanted to make reports, or get signatures, or give him phone messages. All normal, business-as-usual stuff; but tonight he just couldn't handle it.
He was walking past the break room when Sara spied him through the glass wall. She went to the door to meet him, noticing that he looked horrible. "Hey, Griss. The offer still stands. Let me drive you home."
Grissom stopped dead in his tracks. Part of him wanted to tell her no, that he would get home on his own; but another more rational part knew that he really shouldn't try to drive tonight. He sighed, and then looked at her. "Okay." He took another step down the hall, when a sudden realization hit him. He turned back to Sara. "Audrey Hepburn, I presume?" She nodded, and flashed him her trademark grin.
A few minutes later, seated in Sara's car, he looked over at her. He started to speak, almost without actually deciding to do so. "Sara, listen. I owe you an apology. I was a total jerk tonight."
Sara glanced at him quickly, and then returned her attention to the road. "Never mind. I'll let you plead extenuating circumstances. You just haven't been yourself tonight."
Having started, he suddenly wanted to say it all. "It's not just about tonight."
"Why? What do you mean?"
"I can be so blind sometimes. I never meant to hurt you. Please believe that. Sara, all those times I pushed you away; all those times I flirted with you; all I ever wanted was you. I just made a mess of things. I can't explain it. I guess I was scared. Scared of getting hurt, scared of what might happen to our jobs if anyone found out, scared of being so much older than you. But I still wanted you. I was conflicted, and it showed, and I hurt you because of it. Even tonight, I hurt you again. You knew what was happening to me, you cared enough to try to help me, and I ... well, you know what I did. Oh, Sara, my beautiful Sara; I wouldn't blame you at all if you never spoke to me again." He spoke quietly, looking at his hands.
Sara was stunned. He wanted her. Could this really be Grissom, this man sitting here baring his soul like this? All the many times she had imagined finally breaking through his barriers, she had never imagined something like this. He sounded so ... sad, so ... defeated. She pulled into a shopping center parking lot and stopped the car.
"Grissom, don't say that. You have no idea how long I've waited for you." She took his hand. "Of course I'll speak to you again. In fact, we need to have a really long talk. But not now, not when you're so sick. I'm going to take you home so you can take your meds and sleep. I'll call you later and if you're feeling better we can get together and talk then." Sara didn't say it, but she was thinking, 'yeah, we'll talk later if you still want to. If you still want me. If you don't shut me out again.'
They drove the rest of the way in silence. The sun was coming up. She parked outside his townhouse, and suddenly felt a little awkward. "Um, Griss, do you want me to go in with you?"
"No, Sara." He smiled at her. "I'll be okay. I'm used to looking after myself." Then, realizing how that must sound, he added, "Crap, I just did it again. Sara, I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to push you away again." He put his hand on hers. "I really do appreciate your help tonight, and I definitely needed the ride home. Thank you." She started to say something, but before she could, he kissed her. It was a gentle, but very loving kiss. "Sara Sidle, I love you." Before Sara could even begin to respond, he was gone.
'He loves me. He actually said he loves me.' Sara was in bed, but sleep was nowhere on her radar. She rolled over again. Damn, she just couldn't get comfortable. With a sigh, she gave up and, throwing back the covers, she got up. Maybe a nice hot bath would help relax her.
In the bathroom, she turned on the hot water. She added some of her favorite bubble bath, lit a few fragrant candles, turned off the lights and, not even waiting for the tub to finish filling, she stripped off her pajamas and got in. She smiled a bit to herself; nobody at work knew this softer, more feminine side of her. The smile quickly faded. Thinking about work meant thinking about Grissom. She wanted to believe him, more than anything. She wanted to be with him, with all her heart. But she just wasn't sure that he really meant it. She wasn't sure that he was really, finally ready. A tear rolled slowly down her cheek.
Grissom woke up. He had fallen into a less than perfect sleep after taking the maximum allowable dose of his meds. He still felt tired, but he knew that he wouldn't sleep any more right now. He slowly stood up and went into his bathroom. The migraine was gone, no more pain, no more aura – all to the good – but he still felt lousy. A bad migraine did this sometimes, gave him a day of feeling completely drained after the fireworks. He had about as much energy and ambition as a wet dishrag.
Later, after a shower and shave, he sat on his couch pretending to eat some breakfast. His thoughts were moving at the speed of light. Did he really tell Sara he loved her? He was pretty sure he did. How had she taken it? He didn't know; he had run away without giving her a chance to say anything. Maybe that was the point. Maybe he didn't want to know. He felt like an utter fool.
Sara puttered around her apartment, cleaning and tidying. It was late afternoon, but she still hadn't slept. She needed to see Grissom, needed to talk to him. She looked at her watch; attempting to figure out if he was still asleep. Better give him another hour, just to be on the safe side. What would she say to him anyway? "Hey, Gil, do you really love me, or was it just the migraine talking?" Nope, don't think so.
Just as she was headed to the door to go for a walk, her phone rang. She glanced at the call display; it was Grissom. She picked up. "Hi, Grissom. Feeling better?" She tried to sound cheerful.
"Hi, Sara. Yeah, I'm feeling better." He paused. "Do you still want to talk? Can we go somewhere?"
Sara was thinking fast. She hadn't expected this. "Um, yeah. We can go somewhere. How about ..." Her mind had gone blank.
He filled in the blank for her, "How about dinner at The Grille, out on Lake Mead? My treat. And, I'll pick you up. Oh, and don't worry about work. I gave us both the night off."
"Okay. Yeah, that sounds good. When?" Then, remembering, she added, "but isn't your car still at work?"
"To answer your first question with a question – how soon can you be ready? As for question number two, I had Nicky take me back for my car a little while ago."
"I'll be ready in half an hour. Soon enough?"
"I guess I can live with it. Sara, I'll see you soon."
"Yeah, Gil, see you soon."
Grissom hung up his phone. He knew he had caught Sara off-guard with his dinner invitation; he had heard the hesitation in her voice. He had spent his day thinking about her and had realized that what happened next was up to him. She hadn't called like she had promised; maybe she was a little scared of him now. After that scene in the car last night, she had good reason to question his sanity. Well, maybe not his sanity, but certainly his intentions. The one thing he knew without a doubt, the one thing his thoughts kept coming back to was this – he couldn't bear to lose her. Especially not like this. He needed a plan. After much serious contemplation, he knew what to do.
"This is good calamari. I'm glad I let you talk me into it" Sara was enjoying her dinner, even though she couldn't quite shake off a nervous, waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop feeling. The drive out to the lake had been very pleasant, even the desert can be quite pretty. Their conversation had been mainly about work, and Grissom had played a light jazz cd. She sipped her wine and tried again to just relax.
Finally, when the after dinner coffee had been served, Grissom made his move. "Sara, you look so lovely tonight." She was wearing a blue silk dress, the same color as his eyes. It was a very flattering color for her. He reached out and took her hand, smiling, "Of course, I think you look lovely every night."
She smiled and opened her mouth to speak, but he went on, "I have so much I want to say to you. I hope I can say it all without messing up again. Last night I tried, and it came out all wrong. Tonight, I want to get it right. I guess the best way to do that is to just keep it simple. I love you. I have always loved you. I want to be with you. All that other stuff, well, I want to make it go away. I know I'm not perfect, and I have to make a lot of changes so I don't hurt you again. What I'm asking is; will you forgive me? Will you let me love you?"
His words, his simple sincerity, penetrated her heart. She knew he was ready. She squeezed his hand and leaned a little closer to him. "I love you, too. So, the answer is yes. Yes, I forgive you. And, yes, I'll let you love me." Sara Sidle had never been happier.