Disclaimer: Despite the fact that it is my birthday this week, I'm not expecting to be given the rights to CSI. Or the rights to Grissom. Or Warrick, Greg, Nick...
Spoiler: As long as you are aware of the Geek Love, there are no spoilers. This takes place right before Blood Lust, and explains Grissom's "I was actually on a date," and the reason he tells Sara "I need you."
A/N: This fic is my birthday present to myself. I asked myself what I wanted for my birthday. My answer? A date with Grissom. This is as close as it's going to get. I really do work at a group home, but the name of the house and the girls have been changed. Also, I didn't kill off any of their parents.
We met through work, both his and mine. I work in a group home, foster care for six teenage girls. It was not unusual to deal with the police in my line of work, but this was the first time I had opened the door to CSIs. There were two of them, each amazingly handsome in their own way. One was tall and striking, with warm mocha skin and the most beautiful green eyes I had ever seen. The other man was older, distinguished looking with his salt and pepper hair and wire rim glasses. I have always been a sucker for a man in glasses.
He asked to speak to Abby, the youngest of my girls, and it didn't take a genius to figure out that whatever they had come to say wasn't good news. Abby's father was an alcoholic who liked to use her for a punching bag when he was drunk. Her mother had left him on multiple occasions, but kept coming back. Abby had been living at Grace House for six months now.
"May I ask what this is about?" I addressed my question to the older man, who had introduced himself with the single name of Grissom, obviously the one in charge.
"We're investigation a murder. The victim is one James Dalton," he spoke the facts candidly, as if murder was a daily part of life. It was, I suppose, for him.
"Shit," I muttered, then quickly covered my mouth with my hand as if I could draw the exclamation back in. James, better known as Jim, was Abby's father. No matter how much she professed to hate him, I knew this was going to rock Abby's already tenuous foundation.
"We just need to ask Abby a few questions, Ma'am."
"My name's Sarah," I remarked offhand. I have always hated to be called ma'am.
An expression flitted across his face as he cocked his head to the side.
"What?" I asked, curious to know what his look meant. More then that, I was trying to postpone the drama I knew was coming.
"You remind me of someone," he admitted.
I was not surprised. With my shoulder length brunette hair, brown eyes, and general girl-next-door looks, I was often told that I reminded people of someone else they knew.
"If you would like to sit on the couch, I'll go get Abby."
Not waiting to see if they took the proffered seats, I headed up stairs. My first stop was not Abby's room, but Kate's. If Abby was the youngest and most fragile of the residents at Grace House, Kate was her opposite. Almost eighteen, Kate had lived with us for more then three years. She was friendly and outgoing, and treated the other girls in the house like younger sisters.
"Kate," I knocked on the door to the room she shared with Shauna. "Kate, I need you to do me a favor, and not ask me any questions about it right now. I need you to keep all the girls upstairs for a little while." I could tell she was curious at my request, but I didn't doubt that she would do as I asked.
I walked down the hall, dreading what was to come.
"Abby, honey, I need you to come downstairs."
"Can I just finish this chapter?" She didn't even look up from the book as she spoke. Abby was a book worm, most often to be found sprawled out on her bed with a book.
"No. You need to come down now." Something in my tone must have alerted her, because she dropped the book without a word and followed me down the stairs.
"Abby, this is Mr. Grissom and..." I turned to the younger man, "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
"Warrick Brown," he easily supplied.
"Mr. Grissom and Mr. Brown need to ask you a couple of questions." I held her hand and led her to the love seat, since the two CSIs occupied the couch.
"Abby, I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but your father was killed last night." Grissom looked sympathetic, and I could imagine that this was not his favorite part of the job. I waited for the tears or yelling or any sign that Abby understood what she had been told. They didn't come. Abby sat completely still on the sofa, answering questions in a monotone completely unlike her normal animated voice.
For ten minutes Abby answered the questions posed by the two men. It wasn't until they asked her a question about her mother that she broke. Throwing herself at me, she buried her head against my shoulder and cried hot tears of acceptance. Grissom and Warrick both seemed to understand without speaking that the interview was over.
"We'll let ourselves out," Warrick said, nodding his head in the direction of the door.
"Someone will be in touch if there are anymore questions," Grissom added. "Thank you for your time."
I nodded my acknowledgment without looking away from the trembling girl in my arms. A moment later, we were the only ones in the room.
The next time I saw him was a week later. He came by the house, supposedly to ask some follow up questions. Since all of the questions he asked could have been answered in a brief phone call, I doubted his reason. From the careful way he watched Abby, I guessed that he was really here to see how she was doing. Abby's fragile looks often led those around her to feel over protective.
"How is she doing?" he asked when she left the room, confirming my suspicions.
"As well as can be expected," I replied. "Some days are better then others."
"It must be hard, loosing a parent at that age."
"I think it's for the best." Realizing how callous my words might sound, I rushed to explain. "I would never wish someone dead, but the man was as mean a bastard as they come. At least now she doesn't have to be afraid that he's going to come back for her."
Silently, Grissom nodded his head. I could see sympathy and understanding in his eyes, and I imagined that he also saw too many children afraid of their own relatives. Abby came back into the room before anything else could be said. Her eyelids were puffy, a tell tale sign that her sudden exit from the room minutes earlier had not been to answer nature's call. Grissom thanked us both for our time and apologized for any inconvenience before leaving the house.
The next time he came he didn't bother with an excuse. He came, instead, with two tickets to the new Queen concert.
"I don't know if your interested, but would you like to go out with me on Friday?" He seemed a little nervous, the cool confidence that he had when asking questions as a CSI was missing.
Are you kidding? I wanted to reply. A handsome, smart, thoughtful man shows up on my doorstep with tickets to a show I've been dying to see. There is no reality in which my answer is not going to be yes.
"I'd like that," I answer as calmly as possible.
He smiles at me, the humor reaching his eyes and causing them to shine. I am reminded of a favorite book from my childhood, Mrs. Mike. 'His eyes are so blue I could swim in them forever.'
"Should I pick you up here, or at your home?" he asks.
I review the mental schedule in my head, and remember that I work Friday.
"Here," I tell him. Inwardly I have to laugh. For all that I joke about living at work, this is the first time that I have had a date pick me up here.
"I'll see you here, on Friday, then." He hands me the flower that he has absently been playing with, as if he just realized that it was there. With a final nod in my direction he turns and leaves. I close the door behind him and lean against it, giving in to the urge to release the laughter. Date. I, Sarah, had a date with the most perfect example of the male species I had seen in a long time.
"What's so funny?" Shauna walked into the room, trailed by Abby and Mira.
Instantly I sobered. Abby. She was having such a hard time dealing with her father's murder. I didn't want to add any more burdens to her already frail shoulders. How would she react to the mention of Grissom, a man she only know in connection with the investigation of her father?
"I have a date."
"Tight. Who with?" Mira, always curious, was the one to ask.
"Gil Grissom." I carefully watched Abby, but she just smiled and said "Cool beans."
I packed an extra outfit when I went to work on Friday. The moment my shift ended, I went to the office and changed into my favorite 'date' dress. A deep plum color, the fitted bodice tied behind my neck, leaving my shoulders bare. The skirt was gathered at the waist, falling in soft folds to my knees. Sheer thigh high stockings showed of my calves, and did nothing to hide the celtic knot tattooed on the inside of my left ankle. I added a thin silver chain around my neck and amethyst studs to my ears. Simple black heels completed the outfit. The girls begged to help get me ready, so I entrusted myself to their care, allowing Kate to fix my hair and Shauna free reign with my makeup bag. I was ready with time to spare.
When he pulled up in front of the house, I almost didn't recognize him. The car he got out of was a sleek black mustang. The Denali he had driven previously must be a work vehicle. The bigger change was to the man himself. Gone were the baggy chinos and polo shirt. Grissom walked to the door in black slacks, a deep blue button down shirt, and a black leather jacket. Wow.
"Hi," I welcomed him from the open doorway.
"Hi," he returned. "Ready to go?"
"I just need to run upstairs and grab my bag." I turned to the stairway, only to be greeted by a row of curious teenagers, lining the steps. They didn't even bother to pretend that they were heading up to their rooms, or down to the kitchen. Just stood there, like some offbeat, multiethnic version of the Brady Bunch. I tried glaring at them, making sure my back was turned so that Grissom wouldn't see the expression on my face. Each and everyone of them grinned back at me. Obviously I need to work harder on teaching them what a tyrant I can be. Not.
"Way to go, Sarah."
"Hello, salty goodness."
The girls whispered their opinions of my date as I walked up the stairs to retrieve my handbag. Grissom, gentleman that he was, pretended not to hear. A minute later I was downstairs, bag in hand.
"Goodnight, everyone," I called out as I met Grissom once more at the front door.
"Sorry about that," I said as we walked to his car. "We don't get very many men around the house, as I'm sure you can tell."
He brushed aside my apology with a slight shake of his head. Reaching the car first, he opened up the passenger side door and stood back so I could slid into the leather covered interior. He closed the door after I was safely inside, then walked around to the other side and joined me inside the car. The moment he stared the ignition, the strains of Musetta's Waltz filled the air.
"La Boheme," I commented, recognizing the song.
"Opera fan?" he asked, raising a single eyebrow in question. I wish I had that ability, but my eyebrows only seem to work in tandem.
"Not so much," I admitted. "I just love this song."
The twenty minute ride from Grace House to the theater was filled with light conversation; the weather, our mutual interest in rock music, my anecdotes about the girls at the house, which he countered with humorous stories of a lab tech named Greg. There were none of the awkward pauses or gaps in the dialogue that so often accompany first dates. I felt like I had known him so much longer then two weeks.
Soon we were driving down the strip. I never tired of staring at the bright lights of the casinos, the fantasy world sprung up in the middle of the desert. It was so different from the California suburbia I had been raised in. The artificial glow was bright enough that even the darkest night still looked like daylight when you stood in the middle of the boulevard.
Grissom pulled into a parking garage half a block from the theater, and we joined the throngs of people milling around the sidewalk.
"That's my favorite casino," Grissom noted, pointing to the New York New York across the street.
"You don't strike me as a gambler," I commented. "You play cards or slots?"
"Neither. Poker, but that was years ago. No, the New York has one of Vegas's best roller coasters, the Manhattan Express."
"Oh, I love roller coasters. My sister and I used to get season passes to Great America every year. There was this one ride, called Stealth, where you..."
"...went up the hill lying down, and then the track flipped you and you were flying head first throughout the ride." There was an excited expression on his face, adding a boyish charm. "I agreed to give a lecture at SFU once, because it coincided with the grand opening of that ride."
"Sound's like something I would do."
Upon entering the theater, Grissom handed two tickets to the usher, who lead us to our seats. We filled the time until curtains up with talk of our favorite roller coasters and theme parks. It turned out we had been to many of the same places, and it amused me to think we might have been there at the same time. Only when the sound of the orchestra's warming up became the more refined sound of the overture did we cease our conversation.
Grissom suggested an Italian bistro he knew for dinner after the show. It was one of those rare Las Vegas evenings, when the weather was not freezing or scorching, but instead a pleasant temperature, so we decided to walk. Three blocks from the commercialism of the strip, and we were standing in front of a restaurant that could have been in an Italian village. The aged brick facade was covered with green ivy. A sign next to the door advertised homemade ravioli in alfredo sauce as the days special. Candle light illuminated the inside of the restaurant, adding a natural ambiance to the small room filled with round tables, each covered in red and white checked table cloths.
"What's so amusing?" Grissom asked in response to my light laughter as the hostess lead us to our table.
"Las Vegas never fails to surprise me. Neon lights and rock operas, cozy Italian restaurants and soft violin music, all in the same night."
"Certainly never a dull place to be," he agreed.
I remembered, then, about his job, and the fact that he probably saw too much of the variety Vegas offered its denizens.
"So how long have you lived here?" I questioned.
"Fifteen years, give or take. I moved here from Chicago."
"Never been there Is that where you are from, originally?" Good thing curiosity only kills cats, because I can't stop asking questions.
"No. I grew up in California, a little town called Marina Del Ray. My mother ran a gallery there." He had a far away look in his eyes, as if he was picturing something far away. Far in distance or time, I couldn't guess.
"That's not too far from my hometown. I was raised in the Bay Area, just outside San Francisco."
"Near Berkley," he stated. He gave me an odd look, similar to the one he gave me when I first introduced myself. "I have a friend from there."
The waiter approached the table then, and after he took our order I forgot to ask him about his friend. The conversation turned to other things. Our childhood memories of growing up in California, college experiences (UCLA for him, University of Idaho for me), first reactions to living in 'Sin City;' we covered it all. Before I knew it, our empty plates were being collected and the waiter was asking us about dessert.
"None for me," I declared.
Grissom was about to speak when the sharp ring of his cell phone sounded. He glanced at the screen and grimaced.
"I'm afraid I have to take this." He didn't look pleased at the idea.
"Grissom," he snapped into the phone. Whatever the person on the other end said caused him to sigh. "I'll be there as soon as I can."
"I'm sorry, Sarah, but I have to go in early. Swing shift is swamped, and a new case just came in."
"Don't stress. We were done with dinner anyway." I motioned for the waiter to bring our check. As much as I didn't want the evening to end, I also didn't want him to feel bad about it.
"I don't want to go. I'm having a good time," he said with a thoughtful look on his face.
"You say that almost like it's a surprise," I joked.
"It is. I don't have the best history when it comes to dating."
"I don't know why. I had a wonderful evening, best date I've been on in a long time." It was the truth.
Despite the fact that he had a crime scene to get to, Grissom walked me to the door.
"I had a good time tonight, Gil. Thank you." I reached for the doorknob, but his hand on my shoulder stopped me. He was leaning into me, slowly enough that I could stop him if I wanted to. I didn't.
The kiss began as a simple meeting of lips, but deepened into a mutual exploration of each other's tastes and textures. He tasted of butter and cream and something I couldn't name. The confident but leisurely way he probed my mouth with his tongue sent shivers done my spine. I could lose myself in this man. He was sweet and attentive, intelligent and had a dry wit that matched my own sarcastic sense of humor well. Everything I wanted in a man, but it was not meant to be. Maybe it was instinct, or a sixth sense, but I knew somehow that his heart belonged to someone else. Regretfully, I ended the kiss.
"Can I see you again?" he asked.
With equal parts regret and humor I shook my head.
"I don't think so, Gil."
He cocked his head ever so slightly to the side. "Is it the phone call?"
I had to smile at that. If anyone understands dedication to their job, it's me.
"No. It's about her."
"Her who?" he questioned, a baffled expression on his face making him look so much younger then his age.
"I don't know." The man was clueless. "You tell me."
"The first day we met, you said I reminded you of someone. It was her, wasn't it?"
Understanding dawned. The confusion on his face cleared, leaving an expression of resigned sadness in his eyes. I reached up and caressed the side of his face, as if the gesture could magically wipe away the pain.
"What's her name?" I softly questioned.
One side of his mouth twisted up in an ironic smile.
"Tell me about her." With just a trace of sorrow, I slipped from the role of potential lover to sympathetic listener. Reticent at first, Grissom haltingly told me of the woman he ached for, heart and soul. As he told me of their first meeting, their working together, the casual flirting that had developed both into something more and something less, I couldn't help but wish I was the Sarah he was talking about. The emotion in his voice spoke of a deep and abiding love, and I wondered how oblivious this man was, to believe that the people around him didn't know how he felt. I bet if I went to the CSI lab right now, and spoke to his coworkers, anyone of them could tell me how Grissom and Sara felt about each other.
"You love her." It was a statement, not a question. He looked startled for a moment, then nodded his head.
I sighed, loudly, not bothering to hide my reaction.
"And your sitting here, with me, because why?"
"It's only complicated if you make it that way." I couldn't resist rolling my eyes. Leave it to a man to take something so clear and muck it up.
"I don't complicate the issue. It gets that way all by itself."
"Explain." I shake my head and stare at him over the top of my glasses.
"First of all, I'm her boss, for one. I'm also quite a few years older then she is. Then there's the fact that I've treated her badly. I don't know if she's even interested in me, that way." He started to leave, heading back to his car. I pressed my hand to the top of his forearm to keep him in place. There were a few things he needed to hear. I decided to address his concerns in the same order he had listed them.
"You and I met while you were investigating a murder. I'm sure that dating a coworker is no more taboo then dating a witness or whatever I am. Besides, I'm guessing your pretty good at separating work and personal time. Age, I'm not even going to bother with that. It's just a number. As to whether she wants you or not, your going to have to ask her that. My guess, though, is that she's stuck around this long for a reason, and it's not to spend her nights with the dead."
"Gil, trust me. Just ask her. You never know until you ask. And if she says yes, the possibilities are endless. 'Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.' Your problem is that you think too much. Stop it. Go with the heart, Gil. Always go with the heart."
"But what if..."
"Gil, do you really want to wake up in twenty years with nothing but a pile of 'what ifs?' Keep it simple. Ask her to dinner. I can testify to your ability to do that well. Just ask."
"I will," he decided.
I was laughing on the inside. Persuasion 101: I can talk anyone into anything. Tomorrow I might want to hit myself for letting such a great guy go, but for now I was immensely pleased with myself. I've always been better at finding matches for other people.
I was the one to initiate the kiss this time. Soft and bittersweet, it was more of a farewell then any spoken word could be. Gently I released him.
"Goodbye, Gil. Thank you for a lovely evening."
"Thank you, Sarah, for everything."
A week later Kate answered the door at Grace House.
"Sarah!" she called out. "Someone's at the door for you."
A delivery man stood in the open doorway, clipboard in one of his hands. In the other hand he held a potted plant. A miniature rose plant, my favorite. I signed my name next to the X and closed the door as the delivery man left.
"Ohh, cool. Who's that from?" Kate tried to grab the card that was stuck between the leaves of the plant. Playfully I swatted her hand away before picking up the card myself. I smiled as I looked to the signature on the bottom of the card.
"Grissom," I informed her.
The smile turned into a chuckle as I read the rest of the words on the card.
Took your advice. She said yes. Thanks, Grissom.
Good for him. Now if only I could find someone for me. I wonder if Warrick is seeing anyone...