Open the Door

by Pheo


Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Rating: T

Spoilers: Definitely. Big ones for tonight's Commited.

Summary: Seeing Sara near death, Grissom makes a decision. GSR.

She stood, steel-still in front of the window, hands firmly gripping her elbows. Staring out into the nothingness, the chaos inside her was revealed to none but him.

He felt useless since he'd seen her eyes-- wide, wet, screaming at him to help her-- and all he could do was stare.

Don't look at him. It was almost funny; for years he had tried to not look at her. For years, tried to get her to stop looking at him, and tonight... Tonight he knew he had been wrong.

He had imagined her killed before, certainly; imagined her in situations from in his own bed to others' beds, from sitting next to him in a rollercoaster cart to waving from his townhouse window, to be sure. But imagination was nothing compared to the real thing, and tonight, he had seen her inches from her own mortality.

Open the door... He still kept hearing himself, murmuring; he could almost hear it off his own lips once more. Open the door. Sara's jugular throbbing at her throat. Open the door. Wild rage, panic, rapid pulsation on his own part. Please just open the door.

His breath left his body in one violent wave, leaving him deflated and useless as she flung herself away from Adam and out of the nurses' station. All he could do was stare after her helplessly.

He almost wished she would cry. He could even see her crumpling to the floor, sobbing into a fisted hand, streaking herself with tears. Open the door. Or maybe she could run out? Yes, he liked that scenario better; she could run out, away from it all, from the violence and the chaos and the blood and himself; away from anything that could cause her harm.

Of course, she didn't. Sara Sidle was not someone to run from anything. He advanced toward her, wetting his lips to speak words he didn't know. Open the door. Open the door...Sara.

He managed to ask stupid questions-- Are you sure you're okay? I can put someone else on this if you want?-- that he already knew the answers to; questions he knew she'd lie about.

Were these injustices her fuel? Did she go after the chase, so to speak, to subdue her own demons at night? He had always assumed that she was like him, a science lover who lived for the subject; and maybe she was. But that kind of drive, that kind of live at the lab zest, had to be motivated by something else.

Protection was a funny thing, really; he wanted to protect Sara, his Sara, from all the harm in the world and knew he could not. Unfriendly with failure, Grissom settled for protecting her from himself instead-- only to fail more miserably than he could have ever imagined. He had caused her pain.

Sara on the slab. Sara, beneath an autopsy blanket. Sara bleeding from her throat...

He felt his eyes burn and squinted, blinking the images away. She was here, in the flesh; he could smell her from here, that clean, fresh Sara-smell; he could see her, the slight tremble in her chin she hid by locking her jaw; he could even touch her--

No. That was the one thing he could not do.

Grissom felt like throwing up. He wanted to speed home and fling himself into his sofa, locking the rest of the globe out. He wanted to grab Sara and run somewhere-- maybe 'Frisco, or Hawaii, or Timbucktu for that matter. He wanted to be anywhere but where they were.

It smells like lies. In order to protect herself, Sara lied; not the lies most humans cast off like worn clothing-- I'll be right back, son; I'd never cheat on you, sweetheart; We'll be together forever-- but the kind of lies people tell to make children stop crying, or to give weeping widows quick comfort. It will all be all right. You're fine. Everything will be okay.

It wasn't all that different from the untruths passed from person to person without thought, though: How are you? Fine. Just fine. Was anyone truly ever fine? Sara, though... Sara would smile that wide, tight-lipped smile-- not the sparkling gapped grin that pulled at his heart but a faded, gray lip pull, nothing to do with mirth-- and grit out, "I'm fine." Then she'd turn away and throw herself to her work.

It was just like the proverbial cliff, only instead of one final jump, Sara was entitled to three hundred and sixty-five suicidal leaps each year. She was far less than fine.

I need to at least get her out of here.

He turned, almost touching her, when McKay approached, shouting accusations and heating Grissom's worry into rage. How dare she blame-- he frowned, voicing his concerns in a more subdued manner. Sara countered McKay's accusations with one of her own and the woman's expression went cold. After the nurse stalked away, he chanced another glance at his CSI, noting the hard stance within her eyes. She was already calculating her next move within this case.

He swallowed, wanting desperately to crush her to him and kill her demons. The desire had always been there; he couldn't remember a day he'd gone without it. Spawned from attraction, endearment, care, even lust-- but today it was born from a purely masculine need to protect.

He knew the science behind his urge; of course he did. Since the dawn of time man had protected what was his-- his land, his food, his offspring, his wife. But Sara had never been his. In his mind, maybe; in his dreams... Definitely. But in waking, real life, she had never been his.

And who's fault is that? He sighed tiredly, loading up the SUV with their things. She gave him a curious glance but said nothing, fastening her seatbelt. Slipping into the driver's seat, Grissom wondered again at his botched intentions.

He watched her at each stoplight, every straight stretch; the curve of her neck at the faintest of scratchings. He wondered if her parents had ever done something like that to her. The probably had. Her eyes were dark around the edges but otherwise she looked fine-- another lie. Her body must have been used to faking its own health for some time, after a lifespan of trauma. Perhaps its constant state made it second nature to the woman?

He saw her again in the arms of that madman, neck stretched taut; this time it bled.

He gave an audible gasp and this time she asked him, "What? What is it?"

He shook his head, shrugging. "Gooseflesh. Someone must have walked over my grave."

She raised an eyebrow at him but questioned no further, opting to stare ahead once more.

His insides ached and he worried about having to pull over. Having evaded sickness for so long, with the exception of the random flu or rare hangover, it confounded him. The scientist wondered at its complexity; an emotional cause to illness was certainly plausible but he'd never dealt with it firsthand.

Pulling up outside the station, he silently watched her exit, so smoothly, as if nothing had happened to her. Again, she must be used to it. It smells like lies...

He followed her out, grabbing his case and brushing against her fingers in the process. She bit her lip but did nothing else, turning away with her own kit. He was shocked to find her fingers so cold.

He sought to catch up with her, unconsciously wanting to give her some of his own heat. Her face held so much determination it made her ache. Left with voids from her own wounds, she would find her justice in that of others.

Grissom shadowed her down the hallway until she gave him a strange look. He pulled back and wondered at himself, at his stupid rules and feeble attempts to protect-- what, exactly? Sara-- or himself?

He thought of the lab without her. He pictured himself at her funeral, waiting for the others to leave in order to weep over her casket, scraping his fingernails into its wood. He thought of the one bright part of himself snuffing out, leaving nothing but a hollow, bitter old man and his bugs.

He knew what he wanted, and he knew what he had to do. Kissing scrapes and offering empty promises would solve nothing. Mending the world of its shadows was something neither of them could do, but he could invoke light in the one part of it, the one person, that held meaning to him.

He would make sure that Sara never jumped again.