Breakfast with Sara
By Joan Powers
This story is a continuation of my previous story entitled "Unbearable", my response to the episode of the same title. I just can't let this stuff go. This is my advice to TPTB as to how to advance Grissom and Sara's growing relationship. Thanks as always to Leslie for putting up with all my annoying questions.
Timeline/Spoilers: Post "Unbearable"
Summary: Sara is curious about Grissom's motives for asking her to breakfast.Sara
Sara was exhausted. She'd spent the last twenty-four hours working on a case that ended up with her scouring the pieces of a partially dismantled Chevy for over four hours. Her back and neck ached, yet she'd discovered the miniscule pieces of evidence that supported their case and resulted in the arrest of a suspect.
She should be feeling satisfied, pleased by a job well done. Yet, all she wanted to do was go home. The remnants of motor oil underneath her fingernails felt gritty, despite repeated washings. Even her hair felt unkempt and grimy, although she'd pulled it up for work. She'd just removed her oil stained coveralls when a deep voice interrupted her.
Oh no, what did I do now?
She looked up to discover the last person she wanted to see. Gil Grissom was standing in the doorway of the locker room.
Assuming it was about the case they'd just completed, she assured him. "I put all the paperwork on your desk." She didn't bother to maintain eye contact as she stuffed her soiled coveralls into the laundry basket. What was the point anyway?
His voice lacked its typical confidence. "Sara, are you…" He cleared his throat awkwardly. "Are you free for breakfast?"
Am I hearing right?
She froze, sorely tempted to clean her ears out with her fingertips, just to make sure. Then she chided herself, realizing that, as usual, she was reading far too much into this. She hated herself, that her heart rate had momentarily sky rocketed, that despite everything, he still had this effect on her.
"Sure, you want me to go get Greg?" she offered. She was a team player. They'd all worked the case together. A little celebration was customary and in order. But she certainly wasn't going to voluntarily track down Sophia.
"No," he quickly added, while checking over his shoulder. "Just us."
She was tempted to turn him down; she was worn out. Besides she was having one of those days. Or was it more like one of those months? Or years? Yet, she couldn't resist him.
"Okay." He waited patiently while she organized her things and took down her hair, and then they strode out of the building together.
Sophia was walking back towards the lab. She ignored Sara as she flipped her blonde hair off her shoulder and smiled flirtatiously at Grissom. Sara ignored the sickening display as the acid churned in her stomach.
As they approached his Denali, they made innocuous small talk, general office chitchat that neither one of them truly cared about. Their tolerance for such chatter rapidly wore thin and they entered his SUV in silence.
What the hell is this all about?
Of course Sara was fully aware of Grissom's dinner with Sophia last week. Half the lab staff had made it their personal mission to inform her, while the main participants had been discrete about it. It hurt her to see the way that woman flirted with him. But what was worse was the way he flirted back. Her stomach was protesting again, the knots becoming tighter.
How could he?
When she first heard, fortunately she'd been on her way out to recheck a crime scene. So she was able to secretly sob in her Denali, taking only a few minutes longer to repair her appearance and then reach her assigned destination.
How could he do such a thing?
She guessed she was second string. Sophia warranted dinner, while Sara was the equivalent of scraps, only eligible for breakfast. After all, she was damaged goods.
Then again, as she took a calming breath, Grissom didn't owe her anything. It wasn't as if they'd ever dated or even claimed to be close friends. She had no rights to him; he'd never made her any promises. Last year, in the interrogation room, she'd heard his confession to Dr. Lurie. Even if he once was interested in her, he couldn't bring himself to pursue her so he was moving on. And so should she.
So she strove to quell the pangs of jealousy that were threatening to torment her. She was angry, and hurt. She didn't want his pity. She craved more. But that most likely was never going to happen.
Her darkening mood threatened to propel her into self-pity, but that wouldn't help her. Instead she stubbornly clung to her anger and her mantra that she didn't need anyone anyway. No one had ever helped her and she'd managed to survive her horrendous childhood. She'd even managed to put herself through Harvard, graduating with honors. Now she was an excellent crime scene investigator. She was self-reliant; she didn't need anyone.
With surprise, she noticed that Grissom had driven past the usual group haunts for breakfast. She looked past him in askance, but he seemed preoccupied by his own thoughts. Perhaps he was taking her to a new place that he'd discovered with Sophia? It wasn't as if she'd shared a meal that recently with him, the way he'd been avoiding her for over a year.
What is Grissom up to?
Knowing her luck and their history, it couldn't be good. Could it be another reprimand from Ecklie? Or had the administration given up on her completely and Grissom was letting her off as gently as he knew how? As much as a tiny portion within her refused to give up hope for something better, she refused to set herself up for more disappointment.
He pulled into the parking lot of a more upscale diner. "Thought it'd be nice to try something different," he offered.
That way no one would recognize the young brunette who was sobbing in the corner after discovering that she'd lost her job, the last thing in her life that held any meaning for her, while the older gentleman merely fidgeted uncomfortably in his seat.
Stop that Sidle, you're being paranoid. You still have your pride.
They entered the diner and sat at a booth. It was a nice place, with actual table clothes and real cut flowers in vases on the tables. She wondered how the food was, though that was a moot point. In her current state of mind, she'd barely taste it. Grissom ordered pancakes, while Sara only asked for a fruit plate.
When he stared at her, she merely explained, "I'm not that hungry."
Anger wasn't good for her digestion. They began to speak of cases, familiar, safe territory that they were both comfortable with; after all, this wasn't a date.
Gil Grissom confused the hell out of her. Just when it seemed like they were starting to connect, when she'd gone out on a limb sharing some of her feelings and her past with him, he appeared to be romancing another woman. She clung to her hurt and indignation, her outright anger and jealousy, stubbornly not wanting to let it go. Yet she wasn't going to let him know how deeply he'd hurt her. She wasn't going to give him that satisfaction.
When their food arrived, they ate in strained silence.
Why had she bothered to tell him how she felt? She'd already given him plenty of signals that she cared about him. She'd even asked him out to dinner which was probably a huge mistake since, on the whole, men don't like being pursued, that whole frail male ego thing.
She did it because she had to, because it was eating her up inside. She did it for her own peace of mind. Because after hearing his confession, she foolishly felt that it might make a difference, to him.
In the process of chewing a piece of melon, something seemed to change.
"Sara, are you okay?"
She nearly choked on her food. He was really asking, those well-fortified barriers were dropping, and he seemed to be honestly trying to connect with her.
Though she was pleased, she wasn't going to let it be that easy for him.
"Yeah, I'm fine." She continued to pick at her fruit in a lack luster fashion.
He attempted to hold her gaze, unsuccessfully. "Are you…are you getting any help?"
Oh, so that's what all this was about.
Her anger threatened to gush out, as she strove to remain neutral. "That way you can document things for the files, keep the department's ass covered."
And your own.
She became flippant. "As a matter fact, no I'm not. Do you have to fire me now?"
He protested, "Sara, this has nothing to do with work. What happened to you in the past is none of their damn business. I'm not here as your boss."
This ought to be good.
"So what are you here as?" She was intrigued, she knew he couldn't easily answer such a loaded question; she enjoyed seeing him blush and squirm in his seat.
"As.." He thought very seriously, "as someone who cares about you." Wow, he was even able to look her in the eyes as he said it.
She was beginning to regret her bad attitude, but it was her only armor.
"Um…I don't need any counseling. I've been dealing with these issues all of my life. I'm fine. I can handle it. Don't worry, I won't make you look bad."
"I don't care about that," he firmly stated. He was struggling with his words. "Do you remember when we searched Kay Shelton's apartment? The woman we found wrapped up tightly in a blanket in the woods?"
She nodded. Of course she remembered.
"Do you remember how upset you got?"
She became defensive, "Because that jerk beat his wife and killed her. He thought he was going to get away with it too. Do you remember how he treated me? I had every reason to be angry."
"Honey, what if…what if the next time something like that happens he hits you? These guys have short triggers. They're strong, they can easily over power you. What if you lose your temper with the wrong suspect?"
She'd been preparing to vehemently deny that possibility but the look in his eyes stopped her cold. He was scared. Scared that she'd be hurt.
Her soft response came out before she could repress it. "It's not like it hasn't happened before."
Grissom visibly flinched. "Did your father hit you?"
"Yeah, so did my mother," she answered in a matter of fact fashion. That was life in her family. During most of her childhood, she'd thought everyone lived like that.
Oh my God.
Grissom was reaching across the table for her hand. At first she intended to eagerly lean forward to grasp it, then she decided to make him do more of the work, to reach over more than halfway across table. It was time for him to put more effort into this. Their fingers contacted one another and tightly intertwined.
He hadn't stopped looking at her the entire time.
"Sara, I did some research and I got some recommendations for Counselors who specialize in this area. I'll give you their cards. Please Sara, please consider it." He squeezed her hand as he spoke.
"I don't know." She didn't see how rehashing the past would make any difference for her future. Besides she'd already met with her PEAP counselor for several sessions. What was the difference?
She didn't recognize the tone of his voice; she'd never heard it before. It wasn't begging, but it certainly wasn't an average request either.
"I'll think about it," was all she could say.
"Sara, did…" his voice trailed off. He had something else on his mind. Something apparently too upsetting to put into words by his expression. He didn't continue.
They sat quietly for a few moments, the remnants of breakfast all but forgotten. They gazed into each other's eyes, barriers lowered, while tightly holding hands. Then the waitress arrived, delivering the check, destroying the fragile interlude. It was over.
Sara reached for her wallet, but Grissom insisted. "It's on me."
The End or TBC?
(Anyone interested in this scene from Grissom's POV? I was thinking about it myself…)