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.
Post-ep for "Snakes", and spoilers through that ep. Fluff!
Her hands were shaking.
Sara could feel the fine tremble, so she clenched them into fists, lest anyone see. She smiled coolly at Judy, nodded to Archie as she passed him, and finally reached the layout room, which was blessedly empty. Here she could sit, and let the shakes pass off.
It was done. She'd spoken to Grissom, she'd said what she had to. She hadn't let him derail her, she hadn't backed down, she'd been calm and easy and open.
She held out her hands in front of her, curling and uncurling her fingers, watching with a sort of fascination as the trembling eased and stopped. The adrenaline was draining out of her system, leaving her feeling a little weak.
Her counselor had told her that she needed to do that--to say out loud to Grissom and to herself that there was something more between them than just an employer-employee relationship. So she had. And had watched him apparently lose the ability to speak, which was no indication to her of how he felt--if he still felt anything.
All she could be sure it meant was that he didn't know what to say.
Sara had been grateful, actually, when he'd saved her from impending overtalking. She'd assured him that she had her life under control, that he didn't have to be worried any more, or "concerned," or whatever he wanted to call it. And he'd apologized, which was a rarity. It had all gone very well.
Her hands were steady.
And she bent her head over them. Great, fine, she'd done what she'd set out to do, she'd even absolved him of having to...be concerned. There was just one problem.
Her feelings weren't going to go away. If the last couple of years couldn't kill them, I seriously doubt that being cordial and professional will.
However, that was her problem.
Sara took a deep breath, let it out, and lifted her head. Move forward, that was the key. Her life was back under her control, and she wasn't going to lose that control again, thick-headed entomologists notwithstanding.
She raised her chin, and headed for the door. She had evidence waiting for her.
At some point he'd gotten up to close the door, and now he sat staring at it, trying to absorb everything Sara had said. Grissom had expected a conversation about her counseling sessions, and he'd gotten something much more frank than they'd ever managed to achieve before.
He pressed the heel of his hand to his breastbone, rubbing a little. He was so glad to see her as she should be, confident and bright-eyed again--so glad. But her words about looking for validation had struck him right there in the center of his chest, spreading a lingering ache through the bone. It was what he'd been afraid of all along, that all she felt for him was a crush.
Good thing you found out now, isn't it? The thought was metallic with irony. Before you made a fool of yourself. A bigger fool.
Grissom sighed. He'd always felt like there was some deeper connection between them, even when he was unwilling--unable--to deal with it. Guess I was wrong.
It was when he was opening his car door that he realized he wasn't ready to go home. He still ached, and he didn't want to face the dead-end that his house had become just yet.
One of the peculiar blessings of Vegas was its near-twenty-four-hour habits. Restaurants that in any other city would be open only in the afternoon and evening were open almost around the clock, and it included one of his favorites. The sun was just beginning to lighten the sky when Grissom pulled into the gravel parking lot, and he decided to request a table on the deck. He was in the mood to watch the sun rise over Lake Mead.
He lined it up precisely on the little table by the railing--one beer; one ice water; a salad; and a plate of calamari. And stared at it. He knew his body was hungry, but he couldn't seem to find much of an appetite.
I was going to do it. Ask her out, see if we could make it work. Then the team got split up, and I had to deal with that. And now--
And then the new sunlight on his face was occluded as someone leaned on the rail on the other side of the table. "Hey, boss."
Grissom looked up, and the ache intensified. Sara stood there, a glass in one hand, smiling down at him. He'd totally forgotten that she knew about the restaurant; he'd taken her here when she first arrived in Vegas, as a welcome, the one and only time they'd shared a meal that wasn't work-related.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, more abruptly than he intended, but her smile didn't diminish.
"Same thing as you, I imagine. Hey, can I sit down?"
"Sure," Grissom said, more out of automatic politeness than anything else, and watched her plop down opposite him. She set the glass on the table, and he eyed it; ice and an amber liquid. Sara sighed.
"It's a Shirley Temple, Grissom. End of a long shift, and I have to drive. I've learned my lesson."
He glanced up at her face and then away, a little ashamed. "...Sorry."
She pursed her lips, a touch of humor. "Weren't you listening to me this morning? I told you, I look for validation in the wrong places. Drinking with the boys so I'll fit in, or drinking period to prove something to myself, is definitely a wrong place." She shrugged. "The sessions did make a few things clearer."
Grissom blinked, and blinked again. She was talking about her DUI incident? But I...thought...
It was like uncovering new evidence--all the pieces were shifting in his mind, forming a new pattern.
You've always been a little more than a boss to me.
Why do you think I moved to Vegas?
...Let's see what happens.
The ache was melting away. He tilted his head, looking at Sara carefully. She met his gaze, still smiling and casual, but as he held her eyes a faint flush crept up over her face, and the corner of her mouth twitched.
I think it's my turn to take a chance. Slowly, carefully, Grissom reached out, laying his hand on the table, palm-up. The tremor in it wasn't visible, but he could feel it as his skin brushed against the cool linen of the tablecloth.
Sara's eyes drifted down to look at his hand. For a long moment, she looked; then equally carefully, she lifted her own hand and covered his.
Their fingers laced together perfectly; Grissom realized that hers was trembling too. He looked from their hands to her face, and found she was looking back, and he didn't have any words, but it didn't matter.
Palm to palm, the warmth spread. And the trembling stopped, and the words came. "Have breakfast with me?" Grissom asked, surprised at how easy it was.
Sara smiled, wide and beautiful. "Sure."
And that was all he needed.