Author: Sarah (aka surrendersomething)
Title: Never Have To Be Alone
E-mail: see my profile (seeing as I'm not allowed to type my e-mail)
Summary: GS "How does it feel to know you never have to be alone, when you get home?" The case of a sixteen-year-old girl hits Sara hard.
Spoilers: Sex, Lies and Larvae from the first season is mentioned specifically, aside from that this isn't set at any particular point, so a general understanding of the characters is all you need.
Disclaimer: I don't own CSI or any of its characters.
Author's Notes: I wrote this one a couple of weeks ago and my intentions were to say "This one's for Jorja Fox and George Eads, as well as everyone over at ytdaw - thank goodness everything is 'restored.'" But once again RL intervened (strictly speaking a holiday,) so that seems slightly belated. Big thankyou's go to Gracie and Caitlin for beta-reading this for me – any mistakes are well and truly mine! Any feedback is much appreciated.
Never Have To Be Alone
How does it feel to know you never have to be alone, when you get home?
Maroon 5, The Sweetest Goodbye
"Prepare yourself Gil, it's not a pretty sight," Jim Brass warned, spotting the night shift supervisor lifting the crime scene tape that surrounded a fairly nondescript house in one of the more middle class areas of Las Vegas.
"So I've been told. Sara and Warrick?"
"Finishing up in the living room, then they're moving on to the girl's room," Brass informed him, the two men standing aside as David left with the body. "How much do you know?"
"Teenage girl, suspicious circs." Grissom responded, raising an eyebrow as a hint that he wanted more information.
"Kayleigh James, sixteen. Could be suicide, but you know as well as the rest of us it's never usually as simple as that. From what I could ascertain, Sara and 'Rick got roughly the same feeling…and I know its all about the evidence, but you gotta have a theory first," Brass argued quickly, neglecting to comprehend that he was in theory arguing with himself. "Anyway, the mother found her. She's over there with the father, practically inconsolable. He seems pretty smooth, not as overtly emotional as her, but that's just an observation. Preliminary observations show signs of a struggle and the possibility of sexual abuse, but Doc will confirm that for us."
"Crimes like that really shouldn't happen on a night like this," Grissom commented cryptically, glancing up at the clear sky and taking in the relatively mild temperature, before acknowledging the look on his colleague's face. "I mean, in an ideal world they shouldn't happen at all, but we don't live in that world. It's a contradiction – if the weather were horrible, stormy, whatever, it would seem more fitting somehow."
"But that might wash away any evidence" Brass contributed helpfully, a vaguely amused look passing between the two friends.
"Let's just go see how Sara and Warrick are getting on."
"Hey Sara, check this out. Looks like the vic's journal," Warrick stated, holding up the offending journal for her inspection as she spun around to look at him, one gloved hand reaching up to brush her hair away from her face.
"Let's take a look. Might give us some insight into the situation," she decided, snapping off the offending pair of gloves and reaching for new ones before crossing the short space to stand next to him. Taking the book from his outstretched hand, she turned it over a couple of times, inspecting the intricate pattern on the front cover. "You must be the change you wish to see in the world" she read, gesturing to the quote interwoven into the pattern. "That's Gandhi, I think."
"I thought only Grissom did quotes," he commented cryptically, raising an eyebrow at her with a smile, as she shook her head slowly, unable to keep a smile from her own lips. "See what it says, I'll print the desk" he said eventually, after glancing around the room. Catching Sara's confused stare he elaborated, "It doesn't feel right, reading that…it's a girl thing, right?" Swatting him on the arm before he could dodge out of her way, she allowed a hint of a smile to cross her face before opening the journal.
"Whatever, Warrick. That sounds like something Nick would say," she countered smoothly, not looking up at him.
"That's low, Sidle."
"Quit moaning and start printing," she ordered lightly, turning her attention to the book in her hands, a smirk still playing across her lips.
"Do you have anything yet?" Grissom asked upon entering the room, just as Sara finished reading the first entry and started to leaf through the rest of the book. Warrick looked up at Grissom over his shoulder, and shrugged indifferently.
"Sara's got the vic's journal. Unless anything turns up in that we've got nothing conclusive so far," he summarized, before turning back to his task.
"It seems to be normal teenage hang-ups…" Sara trailed off, stopping to read an entry. Her gaze hardened, and she began to flick determinedly through the remaining pages, stopping every now and then to read the odd sentences. Cursing under her breath, she instantly drew the attention of both men.
"You got something?" Warrick questioned, crossing to where she and Grissom stood. Sara nodded bleakly, gripping the book tighter.
"Abuse" she muttered eventually, shaking her head. "That…bastard out there, pretending to grieve for his daughter had been raping her for months."
"Man…" Warrick hissed, shaking his head slowly. He knew as well as the next guy how cases like these affected Sara, and he watched with concern as she read the most recent entry. Letting another curse escape her lips, she let the book fall to the bed, the dull thud resounding through the room as she made for the door, pressing the back of one gloved hand against her mouth.
With the swiftest of backwards glances, Grissom was out of the door after her, and Warrick was left standing alone in the middle of the girl's bedroom. Sara set off at a jog for the back door, and Grissom followed close behind, just in time to witness her brief struggle with the door before she launched herself outside, coming to a halt in the middle of a path as she gulped in mouthfuls of air.
Slowing to a walk, he reached her just as she pressed her hands to her thighs, bending over slightly in an attempt to regain her control. Moving gently in order to refrain from startling her, he rested a hand on her back, guiding her towards the low wall a few yards away. Sitting her down, he then made her lean forward so her head was close to her knees.
"Take a couple of deep breaths," he ordered gently, crouching down in front of her to remove the latex gloves from her hands, before taking them gently in his. "Sara it's okay" he reassured gently, resting their hands on her legs as he waited for her breathing to return to normal.
"I'm…sorry…" she whispered eventually, her voice strained.
"It's okay," he repeated, moving to sit next to her, keeping one hand grasped in his. "Can you tell me what you read that made you react like that?" he probed hesitantly, feeling her tense next to him before giving a shaky nod.
"She wrote that he used to come into her room every night, at twelve thirty exactly, that she wished she could sleep so she wouldn't have to feel it, but she never could because she was so scared of what she knew was going to happen…" her voice broke slightly, and she shook her head. "The girl was terrified to even go to bed at night, and no one noticed. The people who supposedly loved her didn't even figure it out." Her grip on his hand became almost painful until she abruptly let go, standing up and pacing around briskly, frustrated at the weakness she was showing.
He stayed where he was, experience telling him that it was wise to let her deal with this her own way. Sure enough, after a couple of small circles, she silently took a seat next to him again.
"She was fifteen Grissom, fifteen... I know life isn't fair, but Christ, shouldn't it be a little fairer than that?"
"I know…I know," he murmured, closing his eyes briefly as he watched her fight back tears.
"Sometimes this part of the job really sucks" she exhaled shakily, clenching her fists in frustration. Leaning forward, she rested her elbows on her knees, hands linked at the back of her neck. "Get a grip, Sidle," she muttered eventually, clearly frustrated at the effect the whole thing was having on her.
"Take ten minutes," he said softly, squeezing her shoulder gently as he stood up. "You don't have to go back in – you can swap with Cath or Nicky, or go back to the lab and process the evidence…"
"I'll be fine" she cut him off softly, determination clear in her voice.
"As long as you're sure. On one condition…" he added, waiting until she looked at him. "No double shifts. You need to go home or you really will make yourself ill."
"Will you still come…?" she let her question hang unanswered, studying him intently.
"I'll bring breakfast," he said softly, in answer to her unspoken question. She nodded, reaching out to grip his hand tightly for a moment, before letting him head back inside.
"Thank you" she whispered to his departing form, realising from the slight halt in his movement that he'd heard. Grateful for the time alone to gather her thoughts, she pulled her hair into a rough topknot, securing it with the tie around her wrist, before tugging Warrick's jacket around her and standing, figuring a walk around the block would help clear her head before she went back in there.
"Hey, girl. You okay?" Warrick greeted warmly as Sara joined them in the living area, resting a hand on her back briefly. Nodding, she gave him her best 'I don't want to talk about it' look, to which he smiled reassuringly.
"I know you wouldn't intentionally say anything but…you'll keep this to yourselves right?" she asked eventually, needing a little reassurance.
"You know you're scary Sara, I wouldn't dare spread gossip about you" Warrick assured her softly, receiving a smirk in response, before they both turned to look at Grissom.
"Keep what to ourselves?" he asked, glancing up as he sorted out the final few pieces of evidence, with a slight smile in Sara's direction. "I just spoke to Brass; he said he'll do what's necessary to bring the father in for questioning at the start of next shift. For now, we go home" he decided, glancing at Warrick before the two men shot pointed looks in Sara's direction.
"Well if you're that eager to get rid of me" she muttered, holding her hands up in a mock-surrender.
"Come on, I'll give you a ride back to the lab" Warrick offered, lifting their field kits as Sara grabbed some of the evidence, a slight tease in his voice. "That way I can make sure you actually go home."
"You go on, I'll meet you at the car" she said, bending down on the premise of picking up another evidence bag. Warrick nodded, heading outside as Sara turned to Grissom. "So…" she began, checking to see if anyone else was around, "I'll see you in about an hour?"
"Sounds good," he agreed, lifting the remaining evidence and his own field kit. "Are you sure you're okay now?"
"Mmm," she replied evasively, regarding the look on his face before elaborating. "A little shaken up I guess, but okay. Thank you…for before, you know…"
"I uh, gotta go," she murmured after a considerable silence, breaking away from his gaze and gesturing to the door. He nodded, and she offered a little wave before following the direction Warrick had taken moments earlier.
Depositing the evidence and jumping into the passenger seat, she settled back into the seat and closed her eyes as Warrick pulled out of the drive.
"Sara…" he started eventually, waiting until she glanced at him before continuing. "Was Grissom okay, you know, when he followed you outside?"
"No, he was a complete ogre," she deadpanned gently. "Of course he was okay Warrick, he was actually…kinda sweet about it," she elaborated, cringing slightly as she thought about her choice of words.
"Sweet?" he asked sceptically, raising an eyebrow whilst keeping his eyes on the road.
"Okay, bad choice of words…but seriously, he understood."
"You know I would've…if he hadn't beaten me to it…?" he started to ask, glancing at her.
"I know. Thank you."
"Hey, someone's got to worry about you" he countered, earning a genuine smile. "Although Gris seems to have that covered lately." She shot him a warning glance, suggesting that he was pushing it. "Okay, okay. And if you do ever want to talk about what happened, you know where I am right?"
"Yeah, I do. I guess…it just hit a little too close to home in too many ways. I can see to some extent how Catherine gets upset over cases with children…"
"I think we all can," he agreed, a hint of a smile crossing his lips at the mention of a certain blond CSI.
"Hey, you like her don't you?"
"Do you like Grissom?" he shot back smoothly.
"Yeah, yeah, I asked for that one" she agreed, laughing as they neared the lab. "I'm serious though, if you like her go for it."
"Why haven't you with Gris--?"
"We're not talking about me" she interrupted hastily, and he noticed the flustered look on her face with intrigue. "But you and Cath, you'd be good together. And Lindsay adores you – what more could she want?"
"Sara, stop giving advice when you won't take any about your own life" he teased light-heartedly.
"My personal life is just fine, thank you. And don't you even try and read anything deep into that."
"Yeah, yeah" he muttered, giving her a look, which suggested he knew a lot more than had been vocalized.
"So…you going to ask Cath out then?" she persisted eventually, a smirk crossing her face as she glanced out of the window, glad of the distraction the conversation was providing.
"Don't push it Sidle."
"It's not a weakness Sara. Science requires objectivity, but there's still a part for compassion, or empathy to play" Grissom commented, from his position leaning against her kitchen counter.
"I just…how could he love her so little? It makes me mad when a man has so little respect for a woman that he rapes her, but to do that to your own flesh and blood…there's just something so fundamentally incomprehensible about that."
"You know it's okay to be angry…"
"But I'm not just mad at him. I'm mad that it affected me in that way and that I reacted like that. I had to leave a crime scene and it scares me that I had that little control…" she let her sentence hang as she unpacked the food he'd brought, deliberately not meeting his gaze.
"If there's one thing you did have, it was control. You accepted that it was affecting you, you had the common sense to get out of the house for a bit, and you pulled yourself together quickly. It's the best you could have done," he countered gently, not wanting to add to her anger.
"I know…I know that. It just hit a little too close to home, some of the stuff she wrote. Its like, when I was face to face with him, I was face to face with my past all over again…" she trailed off, leaving him to watch her anger-fuelled chopping of the fruit that was supposed to be their breakfast.
Pushing himself off the counter he moved towards her, deeming this an appropriate moment to intervene.
"Sara, you need to calm down." He came to a halt behind her and slid his hands gently down her arms, stilling her movement as his thumbs gently caressed her wrists. "How about you let me do that?" he suggested, waiting until she loosened her grip on the knife before placing it on the counter. He felt her body tense up for a moment and continued to gently rub her arms, eventually feeling her relax somewhat and lean into his embrace.
"It…hurts too, Gil. It really hurts." Turning her head, she took some comfort from the familiar feel of his shirt, as his arms wound around her waist loosely. "I wish it didn't, I wish that I could start a case like this knowing I wouldn't feel like this. I wish that the Kaye Shelton's and the Kayleigh James' of this world didn't make me feel this way." Her words were soft, her tone almost hesitant as she spoke, grateful of their position and the ensuing fact that she didn't have to meet his eyes. "And, I guess, I'm glad you're here. If I was alone I'd be bouncing off the walls by now, or breaking something." She smiled faintly as he brushed the hair from her cheek, taking a couple of deep breaths. "You seem to have a knack for…dissipating my anger."
"Well it was that or let you ruin a perfectly good meal" he commented, attempting to lighten the mood slightly before turning her to face him. Tugging her lower lip between her teeth gently, she rested her hands on his upper arms, her expression clearly revealing that the case was still occupying her thoughts. "You need to let it go," he told her, his hand cupping her cheek gently. "We'll do everything we can to find out what happened, but that won't happen if you don't relax for a bit."
"I know you're right, and I'm trying" she replied softly, tilting her head slightly to meet his lips. Leaning against the counter, she was happy to continue trading these small, unhurried kisses, whilst unknowingly allowing her hands to drift up towards his shoulders. And although the kisses themselves were fairly chaste, they brought with them a comfort she hadn't really realised she was craving. Whilst they both knew that she hadn't forgotten the case, this diversionary tactic and subsequent relaxation were therefore both functional and enjoyable.
Giving into one slightly deeper kiss, she eventually pulled away, smiling as he held her tighter for a moment, before releasing her gently.
"I have no idea how you do that…but thank you." His only response was to press her mug of coffee into her hands, and cast a pointed look towards the counter and its accompanying stools. Laughing softly, she accepted both the mug and his final kiss, before complying and taking a seat on one of the stools. Resting her elbow on the table and her chin on her fist, she offered him a genuine smile, bringing the steaming mug to her lips and taking an experimental sip before standing it down.
"Stop thinking about it" he said softly, without a break in the fluid motion of the knife he now held.
"Easier said than done," she muttered in response, running a hand through her hair somewhat impatiently.
"Think about something else – talk about it"
"And you do this on a regular basis?" she questioned rhetorically, casting a reproving look at his back. "What am I meant to think about anyways?"
"Anything. I'm not fussy"
"Helpful, Gil" she countered, a slight hint of playfulness entering her voice, as it dawned on her that focusing on something else, no matter how trivial, was helping somewhat. Pursing her lips, she considered a suitable topic of conversation. "Hey, you spoken to Catherine recently?"
"I speak to her every day, Sara"
"I meant properly."
"Why do you ask?" he queried, turning to give her a slightly confused look. She gave a gentle shrug of her shoulders, adopting as casual a tone as possible.
"Oh, it's just that Warrick's soft on her and I was…wondering if the feeling was mutual, so to speak." Her eyes were trained on him, waiting for any indication that this was old news to him. It came. "She likes him!" she grinned, pleased at her discovery. "I'd always suspected there was something between them…"
"You shouldn't assume," he countered lightly, turning back to the food.
"Spoilsport" she muttered, taking a long sip of coffee. "Warrick all but admitted it anyway, so it doesn't really matter what you say."
"Just don't go interfering. I'm sure Warrick and Catherine will be just fine on their own." Sara smirked at the predictability of his reaction, allowing herself to watch him for a while, as she formulated her response.
"So you're saying you're not concerned about Catherine's happiness?" she enquired slyly.
"There's a difference between wanting someone to be happy and helping someone to be happy," he returned evenly, glad she couldn't see the smirk forming on his lips.
"Well there's a difference between a light shove in the right direction and interfering in their lives!"
"How about we agree to disagree? I haven't got the energy to argue with you"
"Agreed." Allowing herself a luxurious stretch, she folded her arms on the counter, proceeding to use them as a makeshift pillow. Closing her eyes once the effort required to keep them open became too great, she allowed her thoughts to wander…slightly.
That was the sight that greeted Grissom when, after a considerable period of silence, he turned from his task in curiosity. Smiling at the picture, he put down the knife and made his way across the short distance to where she sat, calling her name softly before touching her, to prevent it startling her.
"Mmm? I'm awake…" her almost incoherent mumblings were quieted by the presence of his hands on her shoulders, the gentle expertise with which he administered his massage driving all unrelated thoughts from her mind. Allowing a soft moan to escape her lips, she rolled her neck a little before settling back into her original position.
As he slowly worked out the knots in her tense muscles, he was once again struck by the capacity she had to empathise with the victims. It was something that had drawn him to her, and something he had recently discovered that extended into her personal life, in a different yet comparable way. Touch was something which played a key part in a relationship with her, and it had almost worried him, the speed at which he became accustomed to this.
Until he realised that he liked it, that it made him feel closer to her. Leaning forward, he brushed her hair back from her face, smiling as she opened one eye to look at him.
"Why don't you go take a shower while I finish making us some breakfast? That always seems to relax you," he suggested, leaving his hands resting lightly on her shoulders as she sat up, turning to flash him a smile.
"It should worry me that you know that sort of thing already," she commented, standing up as she brushed the fingertips of one hand across his cheek lightly. He smiled, kissing her quickly before administering a gentle push in the direction of the bathroom. She made it a fair way across the apartment before turning to face him, her laughter echoing through the room as she caught her lower lip between her lips again, settling for giving him a slightly shy smile before stepping into the bathroom, closing the door behind her.
As he heard the shower turn on, Grissom turned back to the food, unable to control the smile on his lips. That Sara Sidle had had this much effect on him in so short a period of time was a hard concept to come to terms with, and the fact that he wasn't scared beyond belief yet was even more so.
This was one moment when he was glad they'd decided not to rush things. There had been moments when both had become frustrated by their decision, but it was times like this that made it worthwhile to him. To be able to work through the situation together and not let sex take over, and to be able to accept the moments of comfort for what they were was incomparable.
As he carried two plates of food over to the coffee table, and took a seat on the couch, thoughts of her were still filling his mind. The past few weeks really had shown him a whole new side of her – their developing relationship emphasising certain characteristics that would otherwise be hidden. Not only was she intelligent, dedicated and funny as he'd already known, she was also loyal, honest, loving and possessed an almost sensual quality, all of which made him fall in love with her a little bit more.
Which didn't scare him anymore.
And when she came out of the bathroom dressed in her most comfortable sweat pants and tank top with her hair falling in a damp, wavy mass over her shoulders and settled herself down on the couch next to him, he slipped his arm round her without thinking, as if it were the most natural thing.
When she asked him softly if he'd stay because she really didn't want to be alone, he agreed immediately, smiling as she snuggled a little closer to him and tucked her legs underneath her. As she rested her head on his shoulder, he found himself gently caressing the skin just underneath the hem of her shirt.
And he didn't try to deny that it was because he cared for her, that it was because he didn't want to be alone.
Because it was, and he was okay with that.
- fin -