Authors Note: This chapter was the first CSI fanfiction I wrote - it used to be a stand alone story kind of but I've took the sequels and mishmashed it together into an actual 'chapter story'. Thanks to everyone who reviewed the other stories - I've lost their names when I deleted the stories to make room for the new chapter story, but you know who you are :)
Gil Grissom had been sitting in his car for some moments – without having even started the engine yet. It wasn't that he didn't have anywhere to go – far from it. He'd finished work ten minutes ago, and by now he should have been on his way home to get some well deserved rest after a double shift.
Before leaving, he'd grabbed the files and some crime scene photos from the case he'd spent his entire shift working on – it still remained unsolved. When these kind of situations arose, he would take his work home with him. Sometimes, without the chaos of his workplace around him, he could find it easier to think.
Sometimes, he'd place the case file upon the passenger seat, and drive straight home, but there were those occasions when he opened the folder as soon as he got into the car and began to go over them quickly.
He'd realised once that it made sense, to look over them first before he left the parking lot – that way if he should notice anything that gave new perspective on the case, he could quickly go back into the building and immediately start to work on it again.
So here he was, sitting in the driving seat in a quiet car at 1.11am precisely. Looking over photos he'd studied – for what felt like – fifty times today. Nothing was standing out. Nothing was clicking in his mind, and he felt himself give in to the frustration, and he shut the folder of photos abruptly.
He reached up to turn off the small overhead light on the roof of his car, the interior fell into darkness, save a few slithers of light from a streetlamp not far away in the parking lot. With this growing frustration with the case, he decided to hesitate before starting the engine. He didn't want to be out on the road with this anger he felt welling up inside of himself – the frustration that he'd spent fourteen hours straight on a case without any leads at all made him feel terribly helpless, and that was one of the feelings he loathed most of all.
Just as he'd put his hand on the key in the ignition, ready to turn to start the car, his gaze absently swayed towards the front doors of the building, and he saw his co-worker, Sara Sidle stepping outside, her jacket pulled around her.
It was raining, heavily, and she had a hood pulled up over her brown hair, she was hugging herself against the rain. She looked around, and seemed to miss his presence in his car entirely. She went down the steps, turned left, and began to head down the street.
Gil felt his heart sinking low in his chest, until it felt as if it might be somewhere in the pit of his stomach – something he knew was physiologically impossible.
He found it hard to breathe for a few moments, as he watched Sara Sidle disappearing into the curtain of rain. There had been an undeniable tension between him and Sara for months, and every day it had begun to grow steadily worse.
There were things he wanted to say, but the words stuck fast in his throat as if he were choking on them. When they spoke of work to each other, there was no problem, the words would flow from his mouth like water, ever constant until there was nothing more to say on the matter. He could spiel out countless pearls of wisdom, and never stumble on a word.
But when he was near her, it was different. Being emotional and personal with anyone wasn't in his nature. He wasn't a people person, and he was painfully diffident when anyone tried to get him to open up to them. Sara had tried numerous times, and there had been times when she had tried that he'd wished he could suddenly just say everything he felt.
It was no good. The words were there, caught in his throat again.
He asked himself dismally what could he do? What SHOULD he do? Should he tell face to face what was really in his head – in his heart?
The fact was that there were two loves in Gil Grissom's life. One was Sara Sidle, beautiful, and emotional, always there, always by his left side wherever he went. And then there was his other love, the love he'd spent all his life cultivating - his work.
In Gil's eyes, choosing one of these loves meant unfortunately forfeiting the other. He certainly couldn't have both.
He had weighed the pros and cons so many times. He knew that taking a chance on Sara might compromise his career, and the respect that everyone had for him. If he was to be dating Sara, it wouldn't be long before everyone in the building knew.
Gil knew that the quiet little rumours would start, he'd heard rumours about himself before when no one had known he was listening. Gil Grissom with any woman would be big news, as he was the quiet type who spent more time working on solving murders than he did on his own social life. He could imagine the comments - the sneering insults about his relationship with someone under his supervision. It would be humiliating.
He could almost imagine hearing Greg Sanders sharing secrets with Nick Stokes and Warrick Brown in the lab during a break, Greg would be prattling on about how Sara's 'banging the boss', and how bad it looked, since she was so eager for promotion.
Worst of all, he could picture how much Sara would distract him from his work. Having a relationship took a lot of sacrifice, time and energy – none of the things he felt he could give to both work and Sara at the same time.
Is that the real problem though? He asked himself sourly in thought, he tapped his fingers absently off the dashboard. He supposed now that he'd brought the question up himself, he had to confess to himself that there was one more underlying worry.
Sara might have interest in him – it definitely showed, and he was quite aware of the signs however much he tried to deny it – but how long would it take before she went looking elsewhere when she realised he wasn't what she'd hoped for? He was undeniably older than her. Being well over a decade older may as well have been a hundred years – he was concerned the bridge between that age gap might be incredibly shaky, and she'd more likely find a suitable soul mate closer to her own age.
Gil wasn't sure he could go through any sacrifice just to have his heart broken by someone who wasn't quite sure what she wanted, and he liked to think that Sara perhaps didn't. This way, it made him feel ever so less guilty of having turned her down when she'd asked him out for dinner. He liked to pretend to himself this was some silly crush – something much a school girl might have for her teacher.
The way he looked at it was, he could give up Sara, and she would move on and find another man, someone more deserving. If he sacrificed his work for her to have a relationship with her, there was no telling if he could ever gain back the respect, and the momentum which he carried it out with.
Gil started up the car, and pulled out of the parking lot. He wanted to head down the opposite street but found himself following Sara's path. For now, I need to set aside what I'm feeling…No one should have to walk in this rain.
He located her quickly, she was walking with her head down to shelter her face from the cold rain that was fiercely pelting down.
Gil was surprised she hadn't taken her car today, but then the whole day had been beautiful, sunny, and warm. She'd probably took the walk for exercise, to bask in the sun whilst walking to work. Either that, or – which was not unusual for Sara – the night before she'd had one too many beers that would put her over the limit for driving – after having been pulled over and taken in for drinking and driving once before, she had most likely learned her lesson.
Whatever the reason for her walking was, she was still caught in the rain, and Gil felt he had an obligation somewhat to make her journey home slightly easier.
The traffic was busy on the street, and Sara didn't even see Gil's car even when it was just a little ahead of her. Gil rolled down his window, and leaned out, "hey," he called to her. "Sara!"
Sara raised her head to see his car several feet away, hugging herself against the cold rain, she began to walk over, slowly, almost as if she thought she were walking to her doom rather than her boss's car.
Gil leaned out a little more, the rain splattering him and his glasses. "Get in, I'll give you a lift."
"That's okay. I'd rather walk, I like the rain," Sara refused politely.
"It's freezing, and it's a ten minute walk to your apartment," Gil replied.
Sara shrugged nonchalantly, and walked around the car, dodging traffic, to get to the passengers side as Gil moved the case files from the passenger seat to the back seat.
He opened the door for her from the inside – not out of courtesy but because Catherine had broken the door a month earlier, slamming it when she disagreed with him about a certain case he'd assigned her to.
The door swung open. Sara climbed in, shivering, she shut the door and it gave a monotone thud.
Gil turned the heat on in the car, while Sara buckled up, then he started the engine, and in silence he drove.
Now that she was there again, his heart was in that familiar place, low in his chest, sinking once again.
Why must my heart sink every time I'm near her? He pondered.
Sara reached over and turned on the radio, and began to tamper with the tuning buttons, "I hate silence," she mumbled with a nervous smile, she found a station she was happy with, "this is good."
"That's not my classical station," he said, momentarily unhappy that she'd changed the station without asking first. She'd declared it, but not asked.
"No, it's more like soft rock," Sara smirked a little, she hummed along to the song, looking out of the side window, she drummed her hands on her knees.
Actually, Gil had to admit to himself the music wasn't so bad. It certainly wasn't as offensive to the ears as the music Greg liked to listen to in the lab. Gil struggled to find anything else to say, he just listened to the smooth sound of her humming, and the drone of the engine. "So…what'd you think about this Rzezynik case?" he asked, referring to the case Sara and Warrick were working on at the moment.
"I'm stumped and it hurts my head to even start thinking about it," Sara responded indifferently, she turned and looked at him, "you're stumped on your case too?"
"Spent the best part of a double shift working on this and not a single lead," Gil grumbled.
"Tomorrow you'll have some new perspective on it," Sara seemed confident of this. She continued to drum her knees, oblivious to the awkwardness Gil felt every time she was in his presence.
The traffic had been piling up on the street, and wasn't moving, Gil hated getting caught in traffic. Especially since getting caught in traffic meant being stuck in the car with Sara longer than he'd anticipated when he'd offered her a ride in the first place. Were they obligated now to make small talk? He didn't know.
Sara took her hood down finally, and shook her shoulder length brown hair loose, "wait a minute…" she paused, then turned to him, "you're finished your shift – you finished your shift before I did…" she was looking at him with a quizzical eye. What were you doing coming down this street…"
"I saw you heading off this way from work and decided to catch up. No one should have to walk in weather like this," he wished this traffic would get moving. He didn't like where this conversation might head. Would Sara realise he had been watching her, sitting pondering for moments what he should do?
He didn't want her to ask anymore, but Sara, being brilliant, inquisitive Sara, was bound to ask the question that would arise in her mind. "But I left work ten minutes ago…how'd it take you that long to catch up?"
"Car wouldn't start," he lied.
"Oh," Sara nodded, "she's workin' great now."
"Indeed," Gil responded, feeling the heat rising in his neck. The traffic began to move, and Gil felt like sighing in relief, but he contained it.
He felt his cheeks flushing, and he was suddenly very aware that she was studying him. He hated being scrutinised, especially by her, because he was afraid that one day, she might just see through him. "Do I have something on my face…?" he asked, hoping that he did, that this was her point of fascination.
"Rain water," she responded, and reached out to wipe it from his face.
Her touch sent electric shivers across his cheek and through every single nerve ending in his body. He tried to hide it, but he flinched slightly.
"Sorry…electric shock, probably from the carpet of this car…" Sara looked down at the foot-space curiously.
"Is that what it was?" Gil asked, half in disappointment, half in relief, he wasn't sure how he would have reacted if it hadn't been.
"What did you think it was?" Sara raised a finely plucked eyebrow.
"Lightning," he mused.
"I heard a rumble of thunder half an hour ago," Sara confessed.
"I heard that too," Gil turned down Sara's street, and soon, he found himself driving through the double gates, turning a corner and pulling into the residential parking lot at the back of her apartment building several moments later.
He parked - not because he intended to get out, but because there was one free parking space close to the door into the apartment. Nothing was meant by this gesture other than thinking about trying to reduce the soaking Sara would receive on her way inside.
Glad finally that her company would be out of his car, he began to feel slightly less apprehensive. This tension had kept building up further and further until he couldn't take it anymore, the sooner she got out, the better he'd feel.
"Thanks…" Sara unclasped her seatbelt, and reached for the door handle, she tried to open it. "It's jammed…"
"I've been meaning to get that fixed. Just have to pull it really hard from a certain angle…" he assured. "It should open."
She tried with all her might to get the door open, but it refused to budge.
"Look, it's easy," Gil unclasped his own belt, he switched off the engine, and leaned over her to put his hand on the latch, their faces were close, he felt her hair brush against his cheek as he pulled the latch, and the door swung open with a soft creak. He moved back slightly, their faces inches apart, and her eyes were finding his. He looked away, "there," he mumbled.
Sara forced a smile, "you've done this before," she said, her soft grainy voice had the lilt of a flirt almost hidden away beneath it.
It was Gil's turn to force a smile, although it was a nervous smile, "Of course I have, it's my car," he sat straight in his seat again.
Sara recoiled out of the car slowly, Gil felt unable to move. He looked at her, she leaned in the car, "thanks again for the ride," she said softly.
"No problem," Gil nodded, "I'll uh…see you at work."
"Do you want to come up?" Sara asked, "I mean, if you want to…I got nothin' planned tonight except washin' my hair and crackin' open a couple of beers," she added almost dolefully. "We could look over your case files, maybe I could help?" she asked.
Gil paused, giving it some serious thought. It wasn't so much the invitation that made the anxiety inside swirl like a rollercoaster riding in his stomach – it was the thought of what might happen if he did go up to her apartment.
"Maybe some other time," he tried to remain upbeat and friendly, he couldn't help but look rather helpless and hopeless.
"Bye, Sara," Gil forced another smile, a more confident smile this time, and he watched her close the door, her image became distorted by the rain running down the passenger side window.
He went to turn on the engine, it sputtered and seemed to die out. He tried again, same response. Is this punishment for lying to her about my car not starting? He pondered bemusedly.
Sara had been almost in the door when she'd heard it, and he saw her turn back and jog over to his car, she tapped on the window, and Gil reached over and rolled it down, "car won't start?" Sara asked.
"Temperamental," he said. "Battery probably died out."
"I think I have jump wires in my car…" she glanced up towards the sky, lightning flickered amongst dark clouds overhead, the rain seemed to pelt down even harder.
It was just then all the lights went out all around them. Plunged into an abyss of darkness, so thick they could not even make out each others silhouettes. The whole world seemed to fall silent, traffic in the nearby streets seemed to have stopped had stopped, the whirr of machinery in the distance even fell silent. It was eerie.
"Lightning must have hit a power line," Sara said.
Typical, Gil thought. Now what am I supposed to do? He fumbled in the dark for the glove compartment, and finally found a spare flashlight he'd been keeping there for emergencies. He switched it on and pointed it at Sara, her face was white against the eerie pitch black.
"Can't drive in this," Sara pointed out, "traffic will be chaos."
Gil gave a sigh of defeat, "they'll fix it soon, I can wait."
"You might as well come up," Sara gestured to her building, "you could wait hours before the power comes back on."
Gil rolled up the window, took his keys out of the ignition, climbed out – making sure to pick up his case files in the process. He closed the door, made sure all the doors were secure, and then he followed Sara Sidle into her apartment building.
The building was warm, but inside it was just as black as it was outside. He let the flashlight dance across the hallways, and up the stairwells, until they were finally on Sara's floor. Sara fumbled in her pocket for the key, and finally located it. She unlocked the door, and slid inside, she gestured for Gil to follow.
Gil stepped inside, shining the flashlight so he could look around.
Sara took the flashlight from him, "let me borrow this…" she said, without really asking, and she disappeared off into the darkness with his flashlight.
Gil walked, bumping into the counter from the kitchenette, it hit him in the midriff and he winced, "ow."
"Watch the counters!" Sara called out, she disappeared into another room, Gil guessed was perhaps the bedroom.
He stood there, pressed against the counter, he dropped the case file on top of it, and then remained near the counter, because it was the only solid thing he knew was there and could use as a point of reference to walk around should he need to.
Sara returned a moment later, still holding his flashlight, the other arm full of assorted pillar candles, short and long, a bag of small tea lights dangling from her fingers. "These should do until the power comes back on," she said, "there's some matches in that cupboard there…" she gestured to the cupboard and reached over to hand him the flashlight.
His fingers brushed against hers, the same exciting tingles rushed through him and made him shiver, he was glad it was dark enough to hide the small tremble he gave.
He located the box of matches in the overhead cupboard, and he propped the flashlight on the counter, freeing his hands. He lit a match, and the close proximity was bathed in a warm orange glow.
He lit candles, one by one. Sara picked them up in pairs, positioning them in various areas, three on the window sill, two on top of the TV, three on the desk, one on top of the bookcase. Two stubby pillar candles were placed on the square coffee table.
Gil surveyed the apartment bathed in the candlelight whilst he removed his rain splattered jacket. He hated it. He hated the fact it was so cosy, so…romantic…and he was alone in this apartment with her, when the power was out. His car wouldn't start, and there was nowhere to go. He felt trapped, and powerless – a feeling he detested.
"Most of these candles are decorative," she shrugged as she placed a large three wick pillar candle on a little end table beside her sofa, "I used to think it was a waste of money spending so much on them, I guess they finally have a purpose."
"Everything in life does, I think," Gil said thoughtfully, he watched the flame of a nearby tea light flicker, making peculiar shadows dance across the nearby wall.
Sara muttered something about hoping the power would come on soon, something related to the food she had in her refrigerator. Gil wasn't listening, he was too busy wondering how he was going to remain calm and not let this situation get to him.
Sara sat on the edge of the couch, and looked up at him. He was still behind the counter of the kitchenette, "get it out."
"Huh?" Gil asked, confused, he wasn't sure what she had in mind when she'd asked this, and he spent several seconds trying to decide if this was a direct approach to saying 'will you sleep with me'.
"Your case file…" Sara said, raising an eyebrow, "what did you think I meant?"
"Nothing, nothing at all," Gil shook his head at himself, he picked up the case file, walked over slowly, sat on the couch, making sure an ample space was separating them, and he opened the folder, he spread out photos, he handed her pieces of text.
For the next half hour they discussed the case, and he was in heaven. The soothing candlelight, the soft lull of her voice, it was relaxing. He could think more clearly now than he had been able to in his car. They discussed all the possible angles of the case, and soon he was beginning to see some new leads. However, there was nothing much he could do about them at the moment.
"I don't believe it," he said after a time, he had circled – with a red felt tip pen Sara had supplied him with – all the things he'd overlooked earlier when working on the case. "How could I have missed all this?" he was astonished. "I must be slipping."
"Preoccupied, more than likely," Sara consoled, "you're probably burned out…double shifts can be a killer…"
"You do it all the time," Gil pointed out, he gathered the photos and flicked through them, keeping his eyes on them, he didn't want to look at her by candlelight. It flattered her too much.
"I drink more coffee than you do," she beamed. She gave a stretch, and rolled her head a few times and Gil heard the audible cricks of her neck.
She's uptight, Gil thought, he looked at her from the corner of his eyes, she had her eyes closed, she was rubbing the back of her neck. His mind was onslaught with new concerns. Was she tired? Was he keeping her up? Maybe it'd be a good idea just to walk home in the dark with his little flash light than keep her from the rest she deserved.
"You okay?" he asked.
"Yeah, been bent over a desk most of the night going over statements and photos," Sara responded, she was wincing slightly, her neck was causing her pain. "It's boring work and it's literally a pain in the neck."
Gil wasn't sure what possessed him, "here…" he knelt on the couch, closing the space between them, he was ever so slightly behind her. Timidly, he put his hands on her neck and kneaded his fingers into her neck. He could feel the tension in her muscles, she seemed even more tense than he did.
Her slightly damp hair brushed against his bare fingers, he tried to ignore that, tried to ignore the scent of her rosehip shampoo. Gil tried to desperately ignore every little inch of himself that screamed out for him to stop denying himself the right to be with her, to tell her how he felt.
But his mind told him differently.
"Is it easing up?" he asked.
"Yeah," she responded after a moment, she sounded surprised. He wasn't sure if it was because he was rubbing her neck, or that she was surprised the pain was going away.
He took his hands away from her, and stood up, "I wonder how much longer this blackout can continue," he headed towards the window, and gazed out between the slats of the blinds. The streets were seemingly so abandoned, and at that moment it felt perhaps he and Sara were the only people alive on the planet – at least until the power came back on. He realised there was probably a world of crime going on out there due to the black out. Security alarms and surveillance cameras would cease to function. Thieves would have a field day.
Sara came up behind him, he hadn't heard her approach, she touched his back between his shoulder blades, and he was startled, he spun to face her.
"Don't do that. Greg does that enough," he frowned at her slightly, but found it hard to stay mad with her for long.
Sara suppressed a grin, "jumpy, are we?"
"No, just tired," he pressed the tips of his fingers into his forehead, "I've been up twenty four hours without sleep."
"Stay over," Sara shrugged, "sofa is comfortable enough to sleep on."
"Thanks, but I'm sure this black out is going to end any time now…I could probably walk," he gazed back to the window, lightning flashed and for a split second the whole room was lit in a blinding light. He turned back and looked at her, she looked exhausted, he was keeping her awake, he realised that. "I think I'll just go," he said, and he headed over to the table to pick up his case file.
"Grissom, you can't walk in this weather. Just stay. I'll go get you a blanket and a pillow, you'll make do just fine."
"I'd rather not impose any further," Gil responded, but before he had finished his sentence she had disappeared into her bedroom with one of the candles, and moment later she returned with a pillow and a dark red blanket, she dropped them on the couch.
"I'll sleep better knowing you aren't getting mugged out there in the utter pitch blackness trying to find your way home at 2.30 am," she stated after a moment, her caught his eyes with hers and held his gaze.
He thought about this, this was a possibility, he knew what blackouts could be like, and a Vegas blackout was sheer opportunity for any criminal. "Fine," he gave in. She'd left one of the windows open to let a tiny little bit of air in. The candles flickered, the light dancing across her wholesome features. "Thank you," he added, in a softer voice.
Sara smiled, "night."
She left him, sitting in a room of candlelight and loneliness. He sat on the couch, propped against the pillow and watched the candles, fascinated by the movement of each tiny flame. Twenty minutes passed, he finally pulled himself out of his reverie and put most of the candles out, leaving two lit for reference of light should he wake up and not be able to find his way around in the dark. He made sure they were in safe areas where they couldn't set fire to any of the furnishings or drapes, and he settled on the couch, kicked off his shoes, and he pulled the blanket half over himself.
The pillow smelled like her shampoo, and he felt a slightly uneasy how the scent of a woman's shampoo on a pillow he would be resting his head upon should make him apprehensive. It makes you nervous because it makes you slightly closer to her, the fact that you even noticed it smells like her at all means something, he thought dully.
He wasn't sure when he dropped off to sleep. All he knew was that it was sunrise when he awoke. The last candles had burned down to unrecognisable lumps of wax, and the sunrise with all it's pinks and oranges was seeping through the slats in the blinds. He pulled himself up, back aching reminding him of every year he'd spent bent over desks and mortuary slabs.
He moved to the window, have staggering in his bow legged walk. Looking outside he could see cars moving down the street, lights on behind shop windows. The power had been restored.
The door leading to Sara's bedroom hung ajar, and he paused for a moment before deciding to gaze in. It wasn't the curiosity of seeing her in her bed that made him open the door, it was that he wanted to check on her.
She was asleep, stretched out across the bed half wrapped in blankets, and clad in thick flannel pyjamas with cartoon penguins on the fabric. There were no blinds in the bedroom, and the drapes had been left open, so the full light of the sunrise spilled completely into her room and onto her, lighting her up its warm orange glow.
Gil felt his heart aching, and his breath catching in his throat. How much longer could he know her and still maintain his sanity. How much longer could he be near her and not want to be with her?
He knew right then how much of a mistake he'd made asking her to come to Las Vegas in the first place, and at the same time, he knew exactly how much bigger a mistake it was to have not taken his chances with her.
Five decades on Earth, and he'd never really lived. It had taken Sara Sidle four years to open his eyes and make him finally realise what he was missing out on and how much he wanted a piece of what he'd constantly denied himself.
He moved over and stood by the bed, petrified his presence might waken her, but all the same fascinated by watching her sleep.
She was so peaceful, almost angelic, not a single smear of lipstick or swipe of mascara, so perfect and natural.
He knew he had to leave, he had to fix his car, he had to make calls, he had work to do on the case he was currently on. It seemed so impolite, to quietly leave when she slept, especially without saying goodbye somehow.
Noting the small notebook and pencil near her phone on the bedside cabinet, he decided a small message would be best. He spent five minutes standing there, wondering what to write. There were many romantic, meaningful and poetic things he wanted to say, but none of them would fit on the paper, and one of them seemed appropriate.
Thanks for the hospitality,
and the perspective on the case.
See you at work.
It wasn't romantic, or meaningful, or even poetic, it said all it needed to and for the moment, that was good enough for him. He paused.
Add something. Tell her something you really mean, something that will somehow validate you feel something for her.
After another moment of consideration, he added;
PS. Power is back on.
Silently, he gathered his things, slipped on his shoes, and headed out, leaving Sara Sidle to her dreams, and leaving himself to his misery.