"We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love." – Sigmund Freud
"Sara, we need to talk."
God, how I hated that phrase. I hated it that much more because it was Grissom saying it.
I sighed, my eyes on the streetlamps illuminating the darkness around the vehicle we occupied. All I wanted to do now was to go home and fall into sleep so devoid of anything resembling the reality I'd so recently started to hate; to be able to forget what I'd done tonight, and to avoid thinking about what the repercussions would be. Almost unconsciously, my hand strayed to the door handle on my right, but I clenched it abruptly. The moment we'd both been settled inside Grissom had locked the doors.
Because there was nothing else I could do, I said wearily, "Alright, Grissom. Let's talk."
Silence for a moment. I could almost hear him gathering his thoughts, formulating them into words. My hands came together in my lap, and I clasped them tightly when he began to speak.
Ah. No preliminaries, no hedging about the issue. It was my turn for silence, for this was not a question I could answer simply or easily. In fact, it was a question I didn't want to answer at all. There were so many reasons for what I'd done, and so many other reasons that made me want to remain silent around him. I knew that he wouldn't take me home until I talked, however, and so I took a deep breath to steel myself against the anxiety that was slowly building inside me. "I ... I just finished a triple, Grissom. And that last case – Linley Parker ..." I had to pause here, and tighten my jaw against the sudden tightness in my throat and the prickling in my eyes. "It was too much." I finished quietly.
"But that's not all, is it?"
Damn him. Damn his perceptiveness, damn his intuition. "Yes, it is."
Such authority, such demand in that one word. Suddenly I was angry; my frustration and my humiliation at the nights events were welling up inside me, fighting for release. "Look, Grissom, that's all there is to it. I shouldn't have done this, I should've just gone home, I shouldn't have tried to drive. I screwed up, and I'm sorry you were dragged into it. Just – just please take me home. Please."
"Alright." He said after a moment, putting the SUV – his SUV – into gear and slowly pulling out of the LVPD parking lot. I fastened my seat belt, and returned my gaze to the twinkling city sprawled out around us. Several minutes passed in awkward silence before he Grissom spoke again.
"Sara ... I know something's wrong."
"Oh, do you?"
"Brass spoke to me. He's concerned you have a ... drinking problem."
Ah. And there we had it. Brass had run to Grissom; I should have known he would. I closed my eyes, then, in grim resignation. It was inevitable that it would all have come down to this. I said heavily, "It's not a problem, Griss."
"After what happened tonight, it is."
He was right, and as much as I wanted to deny it, I couldn't, and that fact brought swift tears to my eyes. I fought them back furiously, averting my face from the row of lights we were passing. He couldn't see me like this, he couldn't, and so it was with extreme force of will that my voice remained steady when I spoke. "So now what? I lose my job?"
He didn't hesitate in replying. "No."
"Then what, Grissom?"
"For starters, I'm giving you a month off."
A month? "Gris –"
He cut me off, raising his voice for the first time this night. "A month, Sara. I should have been paying closer attention to your state of mind, and now I see how far things have gone. You need time off, and if you won't take it willingly then I have no choice." He paused, and when he continued his voice was softer. "It's for your own good."
Of course it was. "Fine."
We slowed then to a halt at a red light, and when he reached out suddenly to take my hand I was startled. "Sara," he said, his voice quiet, intense, as his fingers interlaced with my own. "You need this. I know ... I know it's been hard –"
"Do you?" I interjected coldly, jerking my hand away. All my rage that had been smoldering for months was coming uncontrollably closer to the breaking point. How could he know? How could he know how hard it was to come to work every night, trying to deny, trying to ignore what it was I felt, what it was I wanted? How could he know that all my failures, my ill will, my recent behaviour had everything to do with him?
Slowly his hand returned to the steering wheel. "What is it? What is it that's driving you to this?"
Could he really not know?
"Tell me what it is, Sara."
You. Instead I said, "The light is green, Grissom."
An audible grinding noise filled the vehicle; the corner of my mouth quirked as I realized it was Grissom gritting his teeth. Now he was getting a taste of what it was like to never receive a straight answer, to always be guessing at the real truth behind the words. A rush of righteous vindication washed through me; I wanted him to feel what I felt.
The rest of the torturously long ride we spent suspended in silence. Leaning my head against the window, I struggled to avoid remembering the way his fingers had felt against mine. Twice tonight he'd held my hand; once in the station when he'd come to pick me up, and just now. Had he any idea the way his touch affected me? How, once upon a time, I'd craved his contact more than almost anything? I smiled then without humor. Of course he didn't know. And I would never tell him.
And that was the absolute crux of our situation.
Finally, we reached the well illuminated parking lot of the condo complex I lived in. Grissom guided his vehicle into a vacant stall – my stall - and shifted it into park. Immediately I unfastened my seat belt and pulled on the door handle. Still locked. Irritated, and a little desperate to get away, I turned to Grissom for the first time that night.
Before I could speak, he said, "Do you sleep at all anymore?"
I could have lied, but why bother? "An hour or two here and there."
"You don't sleep because of the nightmares." It was more a statement than a question.
"Yes." I replied, though in honesty it wasn't just that that kept me awake.
"Have you tried ... medication?"
"Yes." I seldom took them, but there was a prescription bottle of sleeping pills on my bedside table. Exhausted and emotionally raw suddenly, I said, "Grissom, I'm tired. Could you please unlock the door?"
He did as I asked, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I had one leg out the door when he said, "Try and sleep, Sara. I'll be back to check on you tomorrow morning."
I wanted to ask: What makes you think I'll be here? But he knew as well as I did that of course I'd be here; I had nowhere else to go. I merely nodded my acknowledgement. An instant before I closed the door, I heard him whisper something that brought a sharp, bitter ache to my chest.
"Sweet dreams, Sara."
I didn't watch as he drove away; I walked unsteadily to the main entrance of the complex and blinked rapidly as tears overflowed to stream down my cheeks unchecked.
Sweet dreams, Sara.
There was no such thing for me anymore.