Something to Hold Onto

By Pheo

2.2.05

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Summary: Response to the weekly Improv Challenge at the Unbound forums. First and last line are provided, with a 1,000-word maximum. Sara makes a clean sweep... Angsty GSR

Rating: PG

Spoilers: After NHI

An upside-down photo lay tattered on the floor. Flowers lay strewn across the breakfast bar, their former host shattered. Several plates joined it in the kitchen floor. Papers were strewn everywhere, from Sara's desk to her couch, some crinkled and some torn up. The normal, fanatically-clean appearance, as well as the home's occupant, were nowhere to be seen.

Grissom swallowed hard. This was only the second time he'd been to her apartment-the first having been during her second week in Vegas to make sure she'd settled in okay-and he had been nervous to begin with. Now, with Sara hidden in the depths of this chaotic scene, he felt even more apprehensive.

He cleared his throat. "Sara?" He received no reply, but he heard a steady thumping noise from the hallway. Creeping down the dimly-lit area, he peered into what seemed to be a storage room. Sara was methodically dumping random things into a large brown box. Thump! A photo album went into the box. Thump! A stuffed animal. Thump! A figurine of some sort.

"Ah, are you alright?" He managed, poking his head into the room.

She didn't even look at him, continuing to throw things into the box. Thump! An old sweatshirt. Thump! A porcelin doll, accompanied by a cracking noise.

"Sara?" He asked again.

She jerked her head up at him, and he flinched, afraid he'd be the target of the book she held in her hand. Instead, it made its way into the box. Asking, "What are you doing here?" she simply kept tossing things into the mix.

"Your door was open-" he began, and stopped as he watched her throw some other books into the box. "Are you going somewhere?"

"No." She stopped again, looking at him. "Grissom, why are you here?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. I heard about what happened, and, I ahm, I wanted to make sure everything was, ah, okay."

She rolled her eyes. "Everything was fine, Grissom. I was a complete professional and I was objective on the case-"

He shook his head. "No, I wanted to make sure that you were okay." He pulled out a folded piece of paper from his jacket. "You left this in the lab, and I thought I'd return it to you before someone else saw it."

She took the paper from him, frowning at it, at him, at herself. She knew it had been risky to look up such personal information at the lab, but she hadn't been able to help herself. After discovering that her mother had died of an overdose in prison, Sara had quickly gathered up her print-outs and taken them home with her. Apparently she had missed one.

She stared at the paper for a moment, then sank to the floor with a thud. "So you're here to question me? To make sure I don't go out drinking again? That it?" She struggled with the wetness that burned her eyes. She would not cry over this again, and she definitely would not cry in front of him.

He sat down on the floor across from her, waiting. When she finally looked back up at him, the tears were gone, confusion in their place. "Griss?"

He nodded, indicating that he'd read the document. She closed her eyes briefly, then said, " I'm sure you are familiar with all of the things in that history. We see it every day. Have you come to offer pity? Advice? Are you making me see another counselor or what?"

"No." His eyes searched around the room for something. "Sara, what are you doing with all of these things?"

She barked a laugh. "Memories. Momentos. Junk. It's just stuff I've held onto for too long. I needed to pitch it."

"Want some help?"

She stood up, angrily flinging a photo frame into the box. "Grissom, I don't need your help!"

He stood up, too. "I know that, Sara. I asked if you wanted it."

She stared at him for a moment. "That's why you're here?"

He nodded, picking up another frame. "So, are we throwing out just pictures or frames, too?"

She shook her head in disbelief. "Ah, both."

He nodded, holding up several items for her to approve or deny their departure. She would nod or shake her head, sometimes offering a brief summary- "That was in my Easter basket when I was eight," and, "I'll keep that, it's from Harvard." He was gleaning an idea of what she wanted tossed: everything predating college.

It was while she was staring into the recesses of a torn blue blanket that he asked, "Do you want to talk about it?"

She shook her head, hugging the blanket closer to herself.

"Is that a toss or keep?"

She frowned, tugging it closer. "I used to hold this after... When things got really bad," she finally released absently, smoothing its worn edges with her hand.

He gave a silent oath to never allow anyone the chance to ever put that haunted expression on her face again-including himself. He watched as she struggled with the object, running it through her fingers over the box.

"What if you had something else to hold onto? Could you let it go then?"

Startled out of her reverie, her eyes got big. "I guess so. But I don't really have anything else."

He stuck his hands in his pockets, and before he could think it through he blurted, "You have me."

She threw a hand on her hip. "Grissom, we haven't been friends in a while now, and I don't think-"

It was now or never. He made two wide steps toward her, clasping the hand that was pointed at him, and she stopped talking abruptly.

"That's why I'm here, Sara. I want to be friends again."

She struggled once again with the emotions that rose in her throat. Shaking her head, she couldn't help but grin at the lost, pleading expression on Grissom's face.

"Please?" He said, pursing his lips.

Damn the man!

"What do you want from me, exactly, Grissom?" Sara crossed her arms, resisting the urge to hug or hit him.

"I want what we had back and-and I want whatever else you're willing to give. I want to-to see what happens."

She gaped at his candor. He couldn't be serious! But he stood there, watching her expectantly, and he looked very serious.

"Grissom, I don't know..." She bit her lip, looking down at their entwined hands and liking the image. "I'd like to be friends again, too, but anything else..." She shook her head. "Anything else is going to take me a bit more time." It's all in your court now, she mentally added.

He felt the sting of that one. Indeed, if he had behaved otherwise, he would have had Sara in his arms, his heart, his bed years ago. He tilted his head. "But if I can prove that I won't be an ass again..."

An actual giggle bubbled out of her throat, and he smiled, his hope reinstated by that gap-toothed grin he loved so much.

"Oh, you'll be an ass again." At his drooping shoulders, she added, "Yes, if you can prove you won't be such an ass again, we can talk about seeing what happens."

A full-fledged beam spread across his face and he reached to hold her excitedly. Stopping himself, he simply squeezed her hand. "So, friends?"

"So it would seem."