Disclaimer: Thanks to someone's suggestion, I have but Billy and Gary on a schedule. Billy takes me out Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. Gary and I go out Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturdays. One Sundays I hatch plots to make enough money to buy the rights to CSI.
Spoilers: Takes place the day after season two's Burden of Proof
A/N: Response to this weeks Improve Challenge. This sprung into my head fully formed, and begged me to write it.
"I don't want to know," Brass sighed.
Grissom shook his head, glad his friend wasn't pressing for an explanation. There was a plant in the middle of his desk. No pot, just a plant, the dirt around the roots covering his desk and falling into a pile on the floor. Stuck between the leaves were two pieces of paper. One said from. The other said Grissom. Sara, apparently, had not been impressed with his peace offering.
"Wow, did you piss someone off," Brass remarked. "Who's the plant from?"
"I thought you didn't want to know." Grissom scowled, more at the plant then the man beside him. What was he going to do now? If Sara was this mad, he knew it was only a matter of time until another leave of absence form found it's way onto his desk. Or worse, a letter of resignation.
"What can I say, I have a curious nature. So who sent you the plant?" Brass asked again. It wasn't often that he had the chance to see his friend, former employee, and coworker flustered, and he was damned if he would let the opportunity to razz Grissom pass him by.
"I did," Grissom stated morosely.
"You sent yourself a plant, then dumped it on your desk? I've heard of people with low self esteem issues, but that really takes the cake."
"I sent the plant to Sara. It was supposed to be an... apology, of sorts. She didn't accept, evidently."
"Oh." There didn't seem to be any other reply.
Brass quickly excused himself, leaving Grissom alone in his office to clean up the remains of the plant. Some unexplained urge had him saving the torn card even as he swept the leaves and dirt into the trash can. Carefully he placed the pieces of paper into the bottom drawer of his desk. They were symbolic, perhaps, of his relationship with Sara. Two halves, obviously meant to fit together, but for some reason separate. Always separate.
"Gil, shift started ten minutes ago. Are you going to join us anytime soon?" Catherine's words interrupted his thoughts, a fact for which he was immensely grateful.
"I'll be right there."
They were all in the break room, waiting for him. Catherine, Warrick, Nick, and Sara. Sara. She was sitting on the couch, ostensibly reading a forensic's journal. When the rest of the team greeted him, she refused to acknowledge his presence. He left her alone until he had handed out the night's assignments.
"Sara, before you leave, can I see you in my office?"
"No." Sara didn't even look up from her journal, simply tossed out the single syllable.
Grissom was...well, he didn't know how he felt. Angry, confused, hurt? As often as she questioned or disputed, Sara had never flat out denied one of his requests before. Not when he was her teacher, not when he was a long distance friend, and certainly not in the last year and a half that he had been her boss. Hell, she had moved almost a thousand miles across the country simply because he asked her the right question.
Everyone else in the room was in shock too. Catherine was the first to recover and find her voice.
"Come on, boys. Don't you have crime scenes to get to?"
Warrick and Nick nodded their assent, and the three CSIs left the room.
"Whatever you have to say, Grissom, I don't want to hear. Now, I believe I also have a crime scene waiting for me.
Before he could get out a response, Sara also left the room.
This was shaping up to be a truly spectacular night.
Sara, for once, was glad that she had been assigned a solo case. She was not in the mood to fake politeness when talking to anyone, as she would have forced herself to do with any of her coworkers. Except, perhaps, Grissom. He did not deserve a single ounce of politeness, fake or genuine.
Yesterday she had gone to him with her concerns, and he had reduced it all to 'that meat thing.' To add insult to injury, he tells her that the lab needs her. Not that he needs her, or even that he wanted her to stay. No, he reduced it to the most clinical level possible. The lab needed her.
She had been hopeful when she first saw the plant. It had been waiting for her at the receptionist's desk when she had arrived an hour before shift started. A plant, for her. Not cut flowers that would wilt and die in less then a week. A green and growing orchid. Her face was blank when she opened the card, but inside she was far from calm. Her heart raced, her breathing
was shallow, her stomach was in knots. There is only one person she could think of who might have sent her a plant at work.
The envelope opened and a creamy white card fell into her hand. Scrawled in black ink were the words 'from Grissom.' Sara turned the card over, looking for the rest of the message. There was none. No 'I'm sorry,' no 'I was a jerk, forgive me.' Just 'from Grissom.'
Sara had almost feel the blood boiling in her veins. She had stormed into Grissom's office, and when she found it empty she had simply turned the plant upside down and let it fall onto the desk before dumping the pot into the trash can. Before she left the office she pulled the card out of her pocket and ripped it in two, throwing the pieces onto the desk.
Nick and Warrick were standing in the hallway when Sara came out of Grissom's office. Seeing the expression on her face, neither one spoke to her.
"Well, someone might want to go warn Doc Robbins, so he doesn't have a heart attack when he finds Grissom on his table." Warrick waited until he was sure that Sara was out of earshot before directing his comment to Nick.
"Man, I hope I'm never on the receiving end of Sara's wrath," Nick returned.
"Then you might want to stop talking about me, Nick."
Nick and Warrick turned around to find Sara standing behind them. To say that she did not look happy would be a gross understatement.
"Uh, I think we're late for assignments." Nick made a hasty departure.
Warrick was a little braver. "Sorry, Sara."
"It's fine. Let's just get to work."
And now here she was, working solo on a drowning with suspicious circs. The only downside was that it allowed her too much time to think.
She found him in his office at the end of shift. The only proof of her earlier visit was a few green leaves poking out from the top of the trash can.
"You wanted to talk to me."No hi, hello, how are you. Business was all that existed between them now, she decided, and she wasn't sure how much longer they would even have that.
"Sara." Grissom looked up from his desk, sounding surprised to see her.
"I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have left without talking to you." The words were right, but the tone was wrong. She sounded like a child, mimicking the phrases given to her by a parent.
Grissom took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, giving himself a moment to formulate a response. Sara spoke again before he could open his mouth.
"I'm going to make this easy for you, Grissom. I have two letters, one for six months of leave, the other one is my two weeks notice. I'm giving you the choice. Which one are you going to sign?" She stepped into the office and dropped both papers on the desk.
Grissom, for the first time in his personal interactions with Sara, did not take any time before answering.
"What? Grissom, that wasn't a choice. If you don't want to deal with it, I'll go to Cavello. I came to you first because it's the respectful thing to do." She spat out the word respectful as if it left a bad taste in her mouth.
"I don't want you to leave, Sara. Not for six months, not for longer. I was wrong yesterday to say that the lab needed you. The lab needs good CSIs."
Sara looked as if she was about to protest.
"You are a good CSI. A great one. But the lab itself would be able to operate with any CSI of your caliber." He took a deep breath. This was the hard part. He looked down at his desk, pretending to examine the papers in front of him, but really wanting to avoid her eyes. "I couldn't. Couldn't replace you. Couldn't... function... without you."
Nervously he lifted his gaze. Sara was staring back at him, eyes wide open, speechless.
"Sara, I..." But that was as far as he got. He stopped speaking when Sara turned and started to walk out of the room.
"Sara, wait." Grissom couldn't let her leave without knowing what she was thinking.
"You can't keep doing this to me, Grissom. It's like your two different people, and I never know which one I'm talking to. Sometimes your this sensitive guy who asks me if I'm okay after a hard case or stays up all night with a dead pig to prove a theory when I can't let a case go. Then you turn around and make Warrick A slash without telling me, or push me away for no reason. Now this. First there was yesterday, and your complete dismissal of my concerns. Then the plant. What the hell did you mean by 'from Grissom' anyway? So when you go and say something that seems so perfect, I don't know if I can believe it or not."
Grissom stood up and walked around his desk, reaching out to place a hand on Sara's shoulder.
"I meant every word I just said. I need you here. Everyday I wake up and think 'today I get to see Sara.' The smartest thing I ever did, for both the crime lab and for myself, saw ask you to come here. I'm afraid, though, that it wasn't the best thing for you. I know your not happy right now. As selfishly as I want you to stay, I will sign whatever you want me to."
There was a look of defeat on his face, and it was that expression more then any of his words that convinced Sara that he was telling her the truth.
"I'll stay," Sara announced.
"I don't want you to stay just because I asked this time. I want what's best for you."
He really meant it, Sara knew, and she was sure that she had made the right decision.
"Grissom, are you trying to talk me into leaving now? Make up your mind." She was tempted to roll her eyes.
"Maybe this will convince you that I know what I am saying."
Sara walked over to the desk and picked up the two letters. Methodically she tore each one into strips, and then each strip into confetti sized pieces. Grissom smiled as he watched her, and his grin grew bigger when she raised her hands and released the paper. Together they watched as the pieces fluttered through the air.