Title: Sunset Marquis
Author: Sarah (aka surrendersomething)
E-mail: see my profile
Summary: GS "There's a place where we hung out, at The Sunset Marquis. And I miss the way your hand felt, resting on my knee. It was one of the few times I didn't want to change a thing."
Spoilers: Anything up to the end of Season 4 is fair play.
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to CSI, the title and lyrics are from Vonda Shepard's "Sunset Marquis" and I have no idea whether there is actually a bar in Vegas called The Sunset Marquis – I highly doubt it.
Author's Notes: This idea came to me on holiday, when I really had little better to do than listen to songs and daydream. I couldn't get it out of my head for the entire week, and by the time I got back home I was itching to write it. I was also on a bit of a Warrick/Sara friendship kick at the time, which explains a lot. Big thankyou's to Charli for beta-reading this for me, and all feedback is much appreciated – either e-mail or leave a review.
Flashbacks are in italics.
There's a place where we hung out, at The Sunset Marquis
And I miss the way your hand felt, resting on my knee
It was one of the few times I didn't want to change a thing.
And the way the light hit your face just right was like a movie, a movie
And the way you laughed, well it warmed the draft
Running through me, through me
And I wanna go back to try and unwind .
A couple is snapping at each other, like dirty old rubber bands
While a waitress in a cat suit is starting to expand
I draw a line around your finger, like a wedding band.
The lighting was low, each individual bulb contained within a golden shade. The light cast over the inhabitants of the somewhat secluded bar, created what could almost be described as a sensual atmosphere. Tables intimately designed for two each carried their own candle, encased in its own golden structure, and were surrounded by two oversized chairs.
At any other time it would have seemed romantic, Sara concurred.
Not so long ago it had done, she reminded herself. Slowly twirling the stem of her wineglass between her fingertips, she willed herself not to think about that night, to forget.
"Hey girl, you really okay?" Warrick asked gently, bringing her out of her reverie as he reached over to lay a hand on to hers. Her weak nod did little to reassure him, as she kept her gaze focused on the flickering candle between them. "You can say if you don't like this place y'know. I just thought it would be your kinda place…"
"It was," she replied softly, before finally lifting her eyes to him. He was shocked at the level of pain evident there. "I'm sorry, Warrick. I didn't mean to ruin your plans – it was a lovely idea."
"Talk to me Sara," he urged, concerned. Both as her colleague and as her friend, he'd seen her ecstatic, angry, frustrated and countless other emotions, but never like this. "Whatever you say goes no further, you know that. I hate seeing you like this."
"You want the honest truth? I think it was the first night in almost a year when I didn't question why I moved to Vegas, or why I'm still here." She gave a small shrug, lifting her glass to her lips. "Sometimes I convince myself I hate him…but it's never true, because I can't stop loving him," she whispered, wondering whether it was the alcohol or the company that convinced her to talk.
"Grissom?" he asked gently, receiving his answer in her slight flinch.
"Damn him for making me feel like this again and again" she murmured, clenching her fists for a moment, before collapsing back in her seat, defeated. "It was at the end of the Amy Kennedy case," she began, giving Warrick a chance to place the case she and Grissom had closed nearly two weeks ago. It had started off as a team case, but due to the number of incoming cases, it had ended up with only the two of them by the end.
"You kept this to yourself all that time?" he asked, with a soft curse at her slow nod.
"Seemed like the only thing I could do" she replied simply, catching her lip between her teeth for a moment before continuing. "We'd just pulled a double. He gave us both the night off as a result. Came into the locker room while I was trying to decompress. Said he hated seeing me like that. It was the first time he'd even acknowledged me personally in months, let alone spoke to me. Maybe I got swept away by the moment, maybe I wasn't thinking right." She paused, shaking her head. "He said he knew this quiet little bar, I guess I was avoiding going home to an empty flat."
"So you came here?"
"It's easy to see the foolishness in hindsight. He'd rejected me and ignored me more times than I can remember, but in that split second I just wanted to not be alone."
Sara accepted the glass from his outstretched hand, settling herself further into her chair as he took the one next to her. She cursed silently at the close proximity, wishing that she'd chosen a different table.
"It's a…nice place," she commented with a wave of her hand. "But, uh…I'm a little confused." Receiving no answer, she opted to continue. "It was a team case, yet we're the only two here. Where's Warrick, Nick, Catherine?"
"I didn't ask them, I asked you."
"But why?" She sighed, looking down into her drink without really expecting an answer.
"Because it didn't affect them like it affected you"
"Don't feel like you have some duty to be here. I don't need sympathy," she added as an afterthought.
"It's not sympathy Sara," he replied softly, wishing there was more he could say.
"I was worried about you Sara. Not about any of the others…" he trailed off, eyes darting around the room and missing the subtle roll of hers.
"Why do you keep doing this to me?" Her words jolted him, and his gaze snapped back to her.
"You act like you care. But then, once I've recovered, or withdrawn my leave of absence or whatever it was you wanted to happen, you go back to ignoring me." She shook her head slightly, looking down again. "Do you have any idea how it makes me feel?" She received no answer. "You know what? Right now its not you that's keeping me in Vegas. It's my friends, the people who consistently care about me. It's having a job that I love at one of the top labs in the country, even if I do keep getting the lousy jobs. But it's not you Grissom, not anymore."
"Then why are you here?"
"Because I couldn't face being alone. The case was haunting me and…I didn't have the energy to say no and have to explain why." She twirled the stem of her wineglass between her fingertips, tugging her bottom lip between her teeth. "Okay I got too involved, but there's nothing you can do to change that now. I'd really rather we just left it at that."
"Fine. Let's just…not talk about work."
"But when you think about it, work is all that we really have left, Grissom."
"I never…" he trailed off and she sighed softly, venturing a quick look at him before continuing.
"Yes you did. You did mean for it to happen. I'm tired, Grissom. I'm so exhausted, and I don't think I can do this anymore."
"I'm trying Sara. I don't want to lose you, but I can see it happening."
"You never really had me, Grissom. You could've done, but you never took the time to see it. And I'm not the person I was four years ago, I don't know if I can do this all over again," she said softly, closing her eyes as she took a deep breath.
"I'm sorry," he said eventually. Glancing up, she watched him silently, waiting for him to continue. "I brought you here to take your mind off all the bad stuff. Instead, I've made you more upset. I just…" he removed his glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose for a moment.
"You just what?" she asked, silently hating herself for urging him to talk, having experienced all too well the effect of hearing one of his impeccably timed sentences.
"I want our friendship back."
"We used to talk for hours. While I was in San Francisco and especially in the first few months I was in Vegas. On the phone, via e-mail, over breakfast once I moved here – we'd talk about work, debate some controversial topic, or just talk about whatever came to mind. It was never overly personal, it was never officially dating, but I think it was when I fell in love with him. The fact that we could talk like that and never run out of things to say was overwhelming.
"The time we spent doing so gradually lessened. But I was too blind to notice. Maybe it was as I got to know other people and he ceased to become my only friend here. Then, there were a whole series of events which led to the way it's been this year."
"So you talked again? After he said he wanted your friendship back?" Warrick asked, reaching out to squeeze her hand gently.
"I couldn't argue any longer. He was offering friendship, I wanted it. That case affected me more than I was willing to admit, it took all my energy. I had none left to figure out the particular inflection in his voice, or the meaning that could be hidden behind his words. I just wanted to take it at face value for once and for him to take my mind off everything.
"He mentioned something from when he came to help us out in San Francisco. I made a comment about the couple sitting opposite us. He ordered us another drink, and then he touched my knee when he was demonstrating a point. It was so easy. It was so easy to let him leave his hand there, to forget about everything else. I felt like he was really trying. But he obviously wasn't trying to do what I thought he was. Maybe he was trying to take my mind off the case, maybe he hated the thought of me getting so involved. But on the other hand, maybe it was just because he wanted some one night stand," she concluded bitterly.
His fingertips brushing across her cheek made her jump slightly, eyelids fluttering open just in time to see him whisper,
"You're so beautiful…"
"Don't do this Grissom. Not now. I don't think I'm strong enough to handle it. You have to-" she was interrupted by the gentle pressure of his lips upon hers, her words dying away instantly as she sat, motionless. Against her better judgement, she soon found herself kissing him back, trying to lose herself in the feeling of his lips against hers.
Too soon, it was over. And all she could do was stare at him, pulling her bottom lip nervously between her teeth whilst trying not to be distracted by the lingering taste of him.
"Sara, I…" she watched him battle to find the right words to say, subconsciously licking his lips, and she could tell that he was close to leaving, again.
This just got complicated," she stated simply, not breaking eye contact with him.
"I keep hurting you," he whispered almost brokenly, the realisation hitting him hard this time.
"You don't need to tell me Grissom," she whispered, catching the change in his expression. "It's tearing me apart." He reached out, entangling their fingers almost desperately. She clung to his hand, closing her eyes at the sudden realisation of how right it felt.
His lips on hers for the second time were less of a surprise. She allowed herself to respond, his gentle power drawing her into a heady mix of emotions.
"Come home with me," he eventually managed to whisper, barely breaking their kiss.
"What?" Caught up in the moment, his words reached her ears but her brain struggled to comprehend them.
"Come home with me. I want to make it up to you. I want to show you how much you mean to me."
"So you said yes?"
"I was so tired, War. I just wanted him to take away some of the pain, and he was offering to," she explained, shaking her head slightly. "How stupid am I?"
"You're not stupid Sara. I couldn't begin to deal with what he's put you through…"
"When he kissed me, it was like everything I've ever wanted and everything I've ever been scared of all at once. I guess I was hoping he'd figure out we were worth the risk."
"I don't know how you can be so together about all of this…"
"I've cried all my tears over him, Warrick. I don't even have the energy to be angry anymore. I want to hate him, because in hindsight it seems that it was all to get me to go home with him. But I can't, because I can't believe that the man I've been in love with all this time would do that to me."
"Maybe he got caught up in the moment too. I can't believe he'd do something like that deliberately. He cares too much about you"
"Does he?" she asked, knowing full well that in a strange way, he did.
She fell backwards onto the bed, immediately reaching out for him once again. He braced himself with a hand either side of her body, his kisses soothing her while simultaneously igniting a desire for him she'd always hoped would become a reality.
Her fingers fumbled with the buttons on his shirt, and she laughed softly when the task seemed impossible. Stilling her hands as he kissed her softly, he finished the task himself.
She lifted her arms silently, a smile crossing her face as he lifted her shirt over her head. Smoothing her hair down before bringing her hands back to rest at her sides, he caught her lips in a slow kiss as her arms slid around his torso. Moving one hand underneath her body he unclasped her bra, removing the barrier between his lips and her skin.
Her head pressed back into the pillow as his mouth trailed a warm path down her body, coming to a halt on her stomach. Moving back up to tease her more sensitive areas with his tongue, he unbuttoned her jeans and lifted her hips slightly to slide them down. Wriggling slightly to aid him in his task, she hooked her fingers in his belt loops, pushing down eagerly.
He moved briefly to remove his remaining clothing, before lowering himself over her again, pausing to hook his fingers underneath the elastic of her panties, glancing up one last time for her consent that this was okay. Receiving it simply from the look in her eyes, he tugged gently, removing the final barrier between them.
Locking his eyes with hers, he reached down to gently touch her, a hint of a smile flashing across his lips as she squirmed slightly underneath him, eyelids fluttering shut. His fingers moved experimentally, taking note of what made her arch her back slightly, what made her moan softly. Eventually, unable to take any more of his sweet torture, she pulled him up, pressing her lips to his in a breathless kiss.
"Please," she whispered, sliding her hand down his body to caress him, conveying exactly what she meant. He kissed her once in assent, moving tantalisingly slowly closer to her. She closed her eyes as he entered her in attempt to savour every moment, not knowing that her body had tensed up as a response, subconsciously displaying her nerves.
"Relax," he urged her softly, his mouth close to her ear as he stilled his movement, giving her time to relax and familiarise her body with him in a gesture which almost brought tears to her tightly shut eyes.
"I feel like I've waited my whole life for this," she whispered, resting her hands on his shoulders. "I shouldn't be nervous."
"Nervous is okay." His fingers trailed a feather-light path from her collarbone to her earlobe, making her shiver in anticipation, leaning into his palm slightly. "I could never hurt you Sara…"
"God, Grissom, I never thought that. I know you wouldn't." She moved her hands slightly, her simple signal that she was ready. Still, the feeling of him moving inside her was incomparable and she wound her arms around his neck, holding him tightly.
A rhythm came easily to them, and both silently mused that this was how it should be. His hands continued to caress her skin, as her lips dropped light kisses everywhere she was able to. Despite their lovemaking being passionate, with the intensity gradually building as their feelings increased, there was a feeling of tenderness throughout that suggested that this was more than just a one night stand.
Neither of them were focused enough to fully comprehend that at the time.
And as they found their release, she whispered his christian name softly, the sound escaping her lips before she realised. Her eyes fixed on his and he kissed the corner of her mouth, before her own name escaped his lips.
"I want to blame it all on him. I want to hate him, I really do. But I can't. And I can't help thinking that maybe it's partly my fault, that maybe I should have been stronger, shouldn't have wanted it so much…that maybe I shouldn't have let it feel so good."
"Sara you can't…" he trailed off, unsure as to where he was taking the sentence.
"You don't know, Warrick. You have no idea how this feels. He…was everything I wanted…" she whispered, shaking her head slightly. "I know they say it's better to have loved and lost and all that, but this hurts more than ever."
"I wish I could do something," he said, shrugging his shoulders helplessly.
"You're helping more than you know. I just…"
"I don't know if I can stay here anymore Warrick. I don't know if I can work with…for, him every night without it all blowing up, or burning me out. And that scares me, because I have you and Nicky, and even Catherine recently, and I have a job that I love…I don't want to have to leave all of that but I honestly can't see any other way around it."
"Can you tell me what happened after…? Did he crawl back into his shell right away?"
"No, and that makes it ten times worse. He was so perfect. He sort of brushed my hair off my face, and wrapped his arms around me…and it felt right. I think it was the first time I slept properly in longer than I can remember," she explained, blushing slightly.
"So when did it all go so wrong?"
"When I woke up"
As she rolled over, her body hit rapidly cooling mattress, instead of the body she was expecting to encounter. Opening one eye to check that it hadn't all been a dream, the unfamiliar surroundings reassured her slightly.
Tugging the sheet around her body, she lifted herself into a sitting position before attempting to smooth down her hair. Scanning the room, she saw no sign of life, but after a little attentive listening, heard movements from what she presumed to be the kitchen.
Standing and quickly gathering her clothes, she dressed, uncomfortable with the idea of wandering around in his house wearing very little. A gentle smile crossed her lips as she replayed the events of the previous night, giving herself a quick once-over in the mirror before heading off in search of him.
Confident for once that they'd reached a turning point in their relationship – the level of intimacy they had gained mere hours before was something that had to be mutual on both sides, she had no doubt of that.
Leaning in the doorway for a moment, she took the time to observe his movements in the kitchen, smirking at the realisation that he kept things as tidy as she herself did. Pushing off the doorframe, she made her way over to him, wrapping her arms around his waist from behind before moving around to his side.
His arms instinctively went around her waist, holding her just a little tighter than he had done previously, Sara noted. This small factor played heavy on her mind during the moments they embraced, eventually leading to her pulling away from him to gauge the look in his eyes.
What she saw there was almost enough to break her.
"Don't do this to me Gris. Please, don't do this," she whispered, stumbling backwards a few steps.
"We can't, Sara. There's no way we would work as a couple."
"You promised you wouldn't do this again…"
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry honey" he whispered brokenly.
"Don't call me that," she countered harshly, wrapping her arms around herself in a long ago learned gesture of self preservation. "You said you wanted to be my friend again. You kissed me. You asked me to come home with you, and you made love to me. How can you tell me that meant nothing to you?"
"It meant more than you'll ever know."
"Then why? You gotta help me out here Grissom, cause I'm having a little trouble understanding all of this."
"We can't be together Sara."
"You couldn't do it again," she summarised, for once not feeling bad about the hurt look that appeared in his eyes. It was nothing compared to how she was feeling. He reached out to touch her arm, but she pulled away. "Just let me go. You've made it perfectly clear you don't want me, that I was just some easy one-night-stand-"
"No! Sara you weren't-"
"Yes, Grissom, I was." She spun on her heel and made for his door, before he could see the tears pooling in her eyes, the tears which were running freely down her cheeks by the time she closed the door.
"I'm so sorry. You don't deserve any of this," he said softly, squeezing both of her hands in his.
"Stop being so nice, I don't think I can handle it," she whispered, swiping a hand fiercely across her eyes. He leant across the table, cupping her face in his hands.
"What he did to you, it sucks. There's no denying that. But I guess in his funny way, it must've made some sense to him."
"Don't try and defend him. I know that he loves me – there was no way in hell he could hide that. But that's not enough. Knowing that doesn't make it any easier to handle the fact that he doesn't think I'm worth the risk."
"Damn, girl. I really wanted the two of you to work through everything that was stopping him. You've always had this connection that none of us could ever really understand, and I thought that he'd be able to see past all the reasons why you couldn't work," he said softly, shaking his head.
"That's just it. I think he finally did, for a little while. But then when it had all happened, he focused on all the reasons why it wouldn't work, instead of all the reasons why we would've been so good."
"So what happens now?"
"I wish I could answer that. I wish I was brave enough to confront him, but I'm afraid that if I do I'll either say something I regret, or completely lose it. I'm too strong for that Warrick; if there's one thing he's not going to do its make me weak."
"But it's killing you doing nothing?" he guessed correctly, getting a small nod as her eyes focused on something far in the distance. His hands were now resting on her arms, and the change in her posture worried him. She visibly tensed, her breathing was slightly irregular and her eyes remained focused on whatever she'd seen. "Sara…?" he tried in vain to get her attention, calling her name a second time, accompanying it with a gentle squeeze of her arm. He watched as her eyes flickered back to him, the pain tearing at Warrick.
"Him." she whispered simply, to overcome to move. Warrick turned around slowly, coming face to face with Grissom and Catherine. His eyes widened as he took in her uncomfortable expression which he assumed matched his own, and focused on Grissom's own version of Sara's muddle of emotions, suitably less apparent to match his personality. "It's okay," Warrick whispered softly to Sara, moving back in his seat as Catherine practically dragged Grissom forward.
Warrick could only watch as Sara slowly shook her head in response to his statement, before locking her gaze with Grissom's. He briefly made eye contact with Catherine, before they both focused their attention on the panic-stricken couple before them.
They watched Sara's eyes glaze over almost imperceptibly, and noted that Grissom was close to losing it as they both fought to control their emotions. Eventually deciding that it was time to intervene before one or both of them left, Warrick pushed his chair back and stood.
"Hey Cath…" he held out a hand, nodding his head in the direction of the dance floor. With a soft smile she placed her hand in his, before directing a pointed look at Grissom. Warrick leant over to whisper to Sara, "talk to him…" then squeezed Catherine's hand gently as he led her away from their colleagues. Stopping at the edge of the dance floor, he slowly slid his hands around to meet at the small of her back, encouraging her to take a couple of small steps closer. In response, her own hands slid from his shoulders to massage the back of his neck as they found a position from which they could both observe the situation unfolding between Grissom and Sara.
"What are we going to do with them?" Catherine mused softly, glancing up at Warrick with a gentle shrug of her shoulders.
"I was hoping they'd figure it out for themselves. You know about…?"
"She's so in love with him Cath, all this is breaking her heart. I've never seen her like this…" he commented, shaking his head slightly.
"I don't know what's wrong with Gil, I really don't. He's as good as admitted he's in love with her, but this all seems so impossibly difficult for him."
"I guess we just have to hope they figure it out. If he doesn't do something she's going to leave, and then it really would be too late." He pressed a gentle kiss into her hair and they both fell silent for a moment. "Hey, once we're satisfied they're not going to mess this up again, do you want to do something for a bit? You could come to mine, or whatever, I've just…missed you, in a strange kind of way," he admitted softly, smiling as she looked up at him. Despite them having only been out together a couple of times, he was already getting incredibly used to having her around.
"I'd like that. Once we're sure they're okay" she reiterated with a soft smile, diverting their attention back to the couple in question.
Sara sat in the exact same position, except now her hands were tightly gripped together. Grissom had eventually taken Warrick's hastily vacated seat, and was now finding the pattern on the table particularly interesting.
"Why are you here?" she eventually whispered weakly, not trusting herself enough to look at him.
"Oh…" she was at a loss for anything else to say, feeling like she'd lost any common ground they may have had.
"Should we talk about this?" he asked eventually, looking up at her.
"What's left to say? There's nowhere to go from here."
"I wish I could show you how much you mean to me"
"Don't do this again, Grissom! You said all this last time, but then you hurt me more than ever. You made me trust you, when I told you I couldn't do this anymore," she whispered. "I don't know if I can trust you again, because I don't think the reason for all of this pain will be enough to erase how you made me feel."
"I felt like I'd taken advantage of you" he admitted eventually, so softly after such a pause that Sara almost convinced herself it had been a figment of her imagination.
"What the hell?"
"Sara you were torn apart by that case, and don't try to deny that. You weren't in the frame of mind to decide whether you wanted a relationship with anyone, let alone someone with the history we have."
"That should've been my call."
"I'm sorry. That night was…amazing. I can't describe how I feel when I'm with you. But when reality sunk in, I felt like I'd hurt you even more by making love to you," he explained softly, hoping she would understand what made sense to him, somehow.
"You hurt me by reacting the way you did. If you'd been honest with me, we could've worked through it. That night felt like the start of something wonderful, it felt right. But you used the same old reasons, reasons that I'd honestly started to believe you'd come to terms with and put behind us." She shook her head, tucking her hair behind her ears before finally looking up at him. "You'll never understand how much you hurt me" she whispered brokenly.
Silence fell between them, as they both comprehended the enormity of her statement.
"I can picture myself growing old with you, spending the rest of my life with you. I can see us never running out of things to talk about, and the thought of being to hold you whenever I want is incomparable. But it's such an amazing picture that I'm scared I won't be able to separate the reality from the dream. As much as I know the reality would be every bit as good as that, it's hard to cross the line." Honesty was his last option – it was all too obvious that this was it.
"Why couldn't you have told me all of this? Why wait till now?"
"When you were standing there beside me, all I wanted to do was hold you and never let you go. If I'd used those reasons for why I couldn't, there was no way you'd have understood. I couldn't start our relationship like that – it would have been hanging over me constantly."
"You didn't take advantage of me, Grissom. Couldn't you tell that I wanted everything as much as you did? I wasn't after some big declaration of love, or a big step forward in our relationship. All I wanted was to be with you." She slumped forward onto her arms, exhaustion gripping her again. "All I want is to be with you," she continued, her voice slightly muffled. "I don't know if we can get over this…"
"This can't be the end." The feel of his hand on her shoulder, fingertips hesitantly caressing, made her realise why she felt this way about him, along with scaring her more than ever.
"The way I feel about you scares me," she voiced softly. "That I can still love you after all that you've done terrifies me."
"You can still…?"
"I love you," she whispered.
"Then we can get through this," he insisted, his hands urging her to sit up. Obliging slowly, she bit her lip when his fingers closed around hers.
"I can't trust you again just like that, Grissom. I can't give you everything I have without knowing that you're not going to throw it all away again. If I'm going to stay, and we're going to work through this, I need some certainty that this is for the long term."
"I won't mess this up again, Sara. I can't tell you how fast things will happen, but…"
"I've waited four years for you. Rushing was never a factor, but I couldn't get you to see that. To just gradually build on our friendship would have suited me."
"Do you think we could do that now?"
"I don't know. I honestly don't know. We need to get the friendship back before we can build on it," she explained, reassured slightly by the fact that his hand still covered hers. "I have nothing to give you right now Grissom; it's got to be down to you."
Silence fell between them and she looked away shyly, unable to rid herself of the feeling that he would back down now. Feeling incredibly vulnerable, she held her breath, praying for him to say something that she could hold onto.
"Is 'I love you' a start?"
In the bar at The Sunset Marquis thinking 'bout all the laughs we once had darling,
Oh the way it felt to me in the bar at The Sunset Marquis.