Author's Note: Shame on me. I should be working on the next chapter of 'Infliction', but when I read the spoilers for episode 6.3, I just had to write this story. It's a one shot, so it shouldn't put me too behind in my other fics... :-)
Summary: Even in the strongest of relationships, sometimes it gets hard to breathe...
Spoilers: Possible spoilers for the beginning of Season 6.
Disclaimer: I still don't own CSI or any of the characters sob.
It was just another case. Another scene to examine. But the atmosphere – the atmosphere was distinctly different. Sara felt it the moment she walked into work that evening. And it had nothing to do with the crime that had been committed.
The deceased had slept in a separate bed from her husband. With every case, it was inevitable that a victim's life would be open to speculation. This was no exception.
'You don't have to sleep in the same bed to have sex… or romance,' Sara said pointedly when Grissom speculated on possible troubles in the marriage. 'Maybe one of them snored. Or had insomnia. Or liked to work at night.'
He half glanced in her direction. 'Or they were suffocating each other and he couldn't breathe.'
There it was. The thing she never thought she would see. The personal creeping into his professional life.
She looked at him, half surprised he had said it, half royally pissed at the barbed comment. 'Who are you talking about?'
When he didn't answer immediately, she turned back to the bedside table she had been about to examine. Upon opening the drawer she found what she believed backed up her own hypothesis.
'Sexual lubricant. Bottle's half empty.' She extended a gloved finger. 'It's sticky. Sex is part of this equation.'
He grunted a reply.
She shut her eyes and tried to put the lid back on her temper. He was easily the most infuriating man she had even met.
'I can't believe you're still mad at me.'
She was surprised by how calm her voice sounded. Quiet, resigned, sad, with not a trace of the anger that was bubbling inside.
His hand stilled over the dressing table he'd been examining. She could see his entire body tense, even from across the room.
His voice was as low and as eerily calm as hers had been when he finally spoke. 'Can we not do this here?'
'You started it.' She cringed at how childish she sounded even as the words left her mouth, but they were out of her before she could censor herself. She hated the capacity he had for making her lose control. And she hated that she always let him.
'Sara,' his voice was a warning bell insisting that she drop it. Now.
She could feel the tears begin to burn behind her eyes. She refused to lose control. Not here. Not now. She would conduct herself like a professional. If he wanted to act like an ass, so be it.
Quickly, she bagged the bottle of lubricant and gathered the rest of the evidence she had already collected, placing the bags inside her kit. Not looking at him, she crossed the room towards the door.
'I'll get all this back to the lab. You can finish up here, right?'
She had almost made it to the door when he caught her arm.
'Sara,' he said again, his voice more gentle than before.
She would not look at him. His fingers loosened their grip on her wrist, but still they lingered there.
'You were right. We shouldn't talk about this here.'
He still wouldn't let go. She could feel his eyes on her, searching her face for who knows what sign. She refused to crack under his scrutiny.
'Let go of me, Grissom,' she said, keeping her voice polite but firm. 'I need to get back to the lab.'
With a sigh that nearly broke her heart, he released her. She didn't look back as she left the house.
She managed to avoid him for the remainder of the shift and went home uncharacteristically on time the next morning. Slumping into her apartment, she resisted the urge to have a beer with breakfast. She would not let herself be driven to drink by this man again.
She felt totally conflicted, as she always seemed to be when it came to Grissom. Part of her wanted to go to his townhouse right this minute and clear this up once and for all. Another part of her just wanted to leave him to stew in his own juices.
And then there was the part of her that was scared of what he would say if she did try to talk this out.
She moved to the kitchen and made tea, hoping to soothe her soul and think out her next move. Her thinking was put on hold by a knock at the door.
He stood on her doorstep with a distinct air of petulance about him. He hadn't opened his mouth and already he was pissing her off.
'I guess we should talk.'
She raised an eyebrow. 'Not with that attitude we won't.'
For a moment, she thought her would reply with a barbed remark or worse, storm off, but he seemed to be working as hard as she was to keep his temper in check. Instead he simply nodded.
'You didn't use your key,' she observed as he stepped through the doorway into the apartment.
He shrugged. 'I figured you'd want me to give that back to you. Under the circumstances.'
'What circumstances would those be?' she asked. 'I'm getting a little sick of the remarks, Grissom. Just come out and say what you have to say.'
He sighed and shook his head sadly. 'I didn't come over here to fight.'
'Well, you could have fooled me.' She moved to the counter to retrieve her tea, but raised it to her lips and set it down again without taking a sip. 'I can't believe you started that crap at work. We agreed. We keep it separate.'
'I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said anything. But…' he shrugged and sighed again. 'You have to admit. There were parallels.'
He was rationalizing. She couldn't believe it. Her mouth opened and closed a few times, trying to find words that her exasperation didn't have breath for. 'Grissom…I – I don't believe you. How were there parallels? Because they don't sleep in the same bedroom?'
He wouldn't look at her. Suddenly, the artwork on her walls was of great fascination to him. 'Because they had obvious problems in their relationship.'
'Maybe they grew apart. Maybe they were crowding each other. Maybe he was crowding her…'
'And finally we get there. You're still angry about what I said.'
He shook his head, but his eyes indicated something entirely different. 'I'm not angry…'
'The hell you're not,' she replied. 'You practically ran out of here the other night.'
'Well you made it clear you didn't want me here.'
He finally gave her his eyes and the look that was there made all her anger evaporate. Beneath his gruff exterior she saw the distinct glint of fear.
'Gris, I never said that,' she said, her voice immediately more gentle. 'And you never will hear me say that.'
He bowed his head and she felt her heart contract painfully. She had never meant her words to cause him so much pain.
'I freaked out, okay?' she told him, knowing the only way through this was to be completely honest. 'We've barely spent a moment apart since we started this relationship and… I'm just not used to such a… intense relationship. I've always spent a lot of time in my own company and now everything's different.'
He looked at her, his deep blue eyes still confused. 'I thought this is what you wanted.'
'It is. But that doesn't stop me from getting scared, you know?' She smiled at him and saw his face relax slightly. Encouraged, she reached out and touched his face. 'I seem to remember a guy who did nothing but work and ride rollercoasters. What happened to him, huh?'
'I guess when I decide to do something, I do it one hundred percent,' he said, his face finally relenting and allowing a little smile to creep there. 'Maybe I got a little carried away.'
She smiled wider. 'Maybe…' Moving closer to him, she slid both of her hands onto his broad shoulders. 'And maybe next time I freak out and say you're crowding me, you'll remember that I'm neurotic and prone to freaking out about things…'
'I believe the word you used was 'suffocating',' he replied. He gently brushed away a stray strand of her hair and placed both of his hands on either side of her face. 'I'm sorry. I was a jerk.'
'It's okay,' she replied. 'So was I.'
A thoughtful look crossed his face. 'So, does this qualify as our first fight?'
She grinned. 'I think a fight is defined by how a couple chooses to make up.'
'In that case, we should really think carefully about that,' he replied as he captured her mouth with his own, stealing her breath and making her knees go weak as only he could. He released her and smiled. 'Still suffocating you?'
She shook her head. 'No. But you are definitely making it hard to breathe.'
'I know the feeling.' He held out his hand to her. 'Let's see what we can do about this making up business, shall we?'
As they made their way to the bedroom, Sara suddenly started to laugh, hard. He turned to her, his eye raised in curiosity, a frown of confusion on his face.
'What's so funny?'
'It just struck me. I always thought I'd be the insecure mess in this relationship.'
His eyes narrowed in a playful scowl. 'Watch it, or we'll end up having our second fight.'
Still laughing, she leaned in and kissed him. 'Good. Twice the making up.'