The characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.

This is in response to an improv challenge at the Unbound forums; the first and last lines were given, and the word limit is 1,000.

Spoilers: through "Down the Drain".


"Just close your eyes," he said.

Sara's look was heavy with skepticism. "Grissom--"

"Humor me, will you?" he asked, his tone light, and she sighed. She didn't like being part of his experiments any more, really; he kept trying to make things the way they had been a couple of years ago, light and friendly, and there was too much between them now for that.

A nice cordial working relationship. I would have settled for that. But no, now he has to get friendly. But his brows were up, and Grissom in the throes of experimentation was so hard to derail that it was usually easier to just go along with him than to try to get out of it. "All right, okay." She folded her arms and did as he asked.

It wasn't fair, to have him ghost up beside her and tie something gently over her eyes. "It's a good thing the blinds are closed," she added. His office wasn't exactly the most private place in the building.

"Well, I would have done this in one of the labs, but they're all busy, and this requires an area with no predominant odor." She heard him rustle. "Did you see that?"

"See what?"

"Good." More rustling, and Sara presumed he was moving away. She thought about telling him that his office did have a predominant odor, made up of preserving fluid and dust and mostly of him, and decided not to. It wasn't very strong, anyway.

"So are you going to tell me what this is for?" She shifted her weight to her other leg.

"A case." The of-course in his voice made her roll her masked eyes. "Okay, here we go. Tell me what you smell."

You, she wanted to say as he neared her again, but refrained. It was no fun to needle him if she couldn't see his expression. And if you want a cordial relationship, you have to be ... cordial. It had been amusing, earlier, to watch him try to talk himself out of his verbal corner concerning his...well, his concern, but Sara didn't want to poke him too hard.

She inhaled. And nearly choked. "Eww, Grissom! What is that?"

"You tell me," he insisted, and she ground her teeth a little and sniffed cautiously.

"Rotting vegetable matter." Before he could ask for something more specific, she supplied it. "Leaf litter, maybe. There's a little pine in it."

"Very good," and his voice was satisfied. "Clear your nasal passages while I get the next one."

Sara breathed deep, trying to clear the stink. Normally decaying leaves didn't smell so bad, but she would guess that these had been rotting in an enclosed space full of stagnant water.

"Okay, try this." She was more tentative this time, and was rewarded with a possible picture of what Grissom was trying to do.

"Smells like somebody's garbage disposal," she said bluntly. "Lots of carrots."

He sighed, and Sara could tell he was pleased. "How about this?"

Grissom ran her through a range of scents, most of them garbage-related. Sara's nose was starting to sting a little by the time she heard a crinkling sound instead of the click of glass on wood. "Last one," Grissom promised, before she could tell him that her sense of smell was dulling.

This time, instead of holding the container to her nose, he took her hand in his, and turned it palm-up in spite of her surprised flinch. Something cool and heavy settled into her hand, and Grissom's remained beneath, to support it.

Sara lifted the other hand to cup it around the object, which was flat on her palm but rounded beneath her fingers. Grissom's hand urged it upward, and almost automatically she bent to sniff.

Clean earth, and green.

One more rustle, and a tug at her scalp, and the blindfold fell away. Sara blinked against the light and looked down. The flowerpot was small, but the contents were healthy, white-striped leaves arching in graceful curves. Bemused, she looked back up to Grissom. "A spider plant?"

"An apology," he said softly. "I owe you several, but it's a start."

Oh. It was nowhere near as beautiful as the orchid he'd sent her before, but it was infinitely more personal.


Their eyes met, and at last his gaze was steady. She held it, not flinching this time, and he didn't turn away. And the pit of her stomach warmed at the look, because it was the man who was watching her, not the supervisor.

"Want to get breakfast after work?" she asked, trying to keep her nerves under control, offering her acceptance.

And he smiled. "Page me when you clock out."


Grissom watched her close the door carefully behind her, one hand still filled with the plant, and sighed. It was tentative, it was fragile, but it was a start. He thought ahead to breakfast, and to his further plans concerning Sara, but was satisfied with the beginning.

He rubbed one hand over his beard. "Okay, I guess that's settled then."