Author's Notes: I live to make my readers happy and since so many people asked for a continuance of this story, I couldn't help but write one when the idea came to me in the shower the other day. Really, the shower. Don't ask; I get all my ideas there. Here's a little present from me to you, a "thank you" for all your kind reviews!
by Kristen Elizabeth
"In six months, I'm going to ask you to marry me."
Those words had changed Sara's life.
Of course, it had been more than just the words. Anyone could say anything they wanted; it was actions that spoke the loudest. Fortunately, Grissom's actions from that day on had put truth into his words.
For five months and twenty-nine days, he had courted her, as if they were characters in a romance novel. Long phone conversations had turned into soul-baring discussions by candlelight. Flirting had turned into artful double entendre. And dinners had turned into morning-after breakfasts.
He'd wooed her, wined her, dined her, made love to her, all as he had promised on that day. Sara had taken to keeping a calendar that she hid in her purse; she marked off each day, counting down until the one on which he would fulfill his greatest promise. The day they would become engaged, and finally go public with their relationship.
Not that they'd really been fooling anyone. At least not after Catherine dropped a pen on the floor during a meeting and went under the table to retrieve it, only to catch the tail-end of a very discreet game of footsie. Or after Nick, with Sara's permission, went into her purse for gum and came up with a handful of condoms. Or after Greg walked in on them kissing in the locker room. To sum up, they hadn't exactly been as discreet as possible.
But by the end of the next shift, there would be no more need to be inconspicuous. They could be open, out, free. Because sometime in the next eight hours, Grissom was going to propose to her, as promised six months earlier. And he was going to do it in the middle of the lab, with all their co-workers as witnesses.
Sara couldn't recall the last time she'd ever spent as much time picking out an outfit for work as she had on that night. Pants or skirt? A skirt would be too much; she never wore them. Shirt or tank? Shirt would cover more…but was that good or bad? Hair up or down, curled or straight? Makeup…barely there or slightly more? There were too many decisions, too many choices.
In the end, she went with a skirt, although it at least covered her knees. This would be her engagement and she was officially allowing herself the right to be a little bit girlier than usual. A long sleeved top of soft cotton clung to her body, outlining everything Grissom already knew by heart. But it couldn't hurt to remind him of what he'd be getting out of the whole engagement deal. She went with her usual hairstyle and just a touch more makeup than usual. And then she was ready. Maybe not ready for a crime scene, but ready for a proposal. And that was currently the only thing on her mind.
Sara drove to work, unable to keep a smile off of her face. Would do it right away, or would he make her wait for the whole shift? Or would it be a surprise? Whatever Grissom had planned, she was ready.
"Okay guys, listen up. Tonight, I'm Grissom." Catherine addressed the group of men gathered around the lounge. Frowning, she asked, "Where's Sara?"
"Late?" Greg volunteered as he poured himself a cup of coffee. Upon receiving a round of looks, he shrugged. "Hey, it's as weird to say as it is to hear."
Nick tossed a Nerf football to Warrick. "She'll be along. What'd you mean, you're Grissom tonight, Cath?"
"I'm forgoing waxing from now on in order to grow a beard," she retorted. "Grissom's out. Left a message on my cell. I'm in charge, what I say goes…you know, complete administrative authority for the next eight hours." She tossed her hair over her shoulder. "Be afraid."
"Afraid of what?" Sara asked as she entered the room. All eyes turned to her. "Sorry I'm late. I was busy…"
"Putting on perfume?" Warrick guessed. "Smells nice, by the way."
"I second that," Nick added. "New shade of lipstick, too. Works with your skin tone."
"What are you wearing?" Catherine asked in a tone that wasn't entirely complimentary.
Greg ran an appreciative eye up and down Sara's legs, held in rein only by the gold wedding band on his left ring finger. "I think they call it a skirt."
"Oh, I've heard of them. I just didn't know Sara had."
"You're all just a riot," Sara snapped. "If they ever fire the Queer Eye guys, I know where they can get a few bitchy…excuse me…bitchin' replacements." She took a quick head count and came up one person short. "Is Grissom in his office?"
Something in her tone caused a few eyebrows to be raised. "Um…no," Catherine said. "Grissom's not going to be in tonight."
If there was a facial expression that gave away the fact that a person's heart had just been hit with a sledgehammer, it would have been the one on Sara's face. Several moments passed. "He's not?" she finally asked in a tiny voice that was decidedly uncharacteristic. "Why?"
"Something about a stomachache." The older woman rolled her eyes. "Please. You'd think once a man passes fifty he could learn to come up with a better story. I figure he's playing hooky. Probably to avoid…"
Sara's softly spoken word had Catherine stunned for a minute. "Actually, I was going to say the pile of papers on his desk. You know…he's allergic to bureaucracy."
"Sara?" Nick frowned, worried. "Are you all right? You look pale."
"I'm fine," she whispered. "I just…think that stomach bug might be catching." She put a hand to her mouth and bolted for the door. "Excuse me."
"Should we go after her?" Greg asked, sharing a worried expression with Nick.
Warrick shook his head. "Not us. Catherine."
"What?" Catherine gave him an incredulous look. "Why?"
"Because. She's heading for the women's bathroom." Warrick shook his head. "No man's land."
"Did Grissom really say he had a stomachache?" Nick folded his arms over his chest. "Doesn't sound like Gris."
Catherine sighed. "I might have been…exaggerating a bit for effect. Or maybe the word is minimizing."
"What did Grissom say exactly?"
"He said he'd been puking. For a couple of hours. And that if he didn't stop soon, he was checking into the hospital. Food poisoning." She shrugged. "It's technically a stomachache. Right?" She was met with three blank stares. "What?"
"Examine the evidence, Catherine," Greg said. "Sara shows up late to work, dressed and dolled up, and anticipating Grissom's arrival. Grissom is a no show for, according to you, a weak excuse. Sara gets visibly upset."
"So what? She's always visibly upset."
Nick continued, "Something was supposed to happen tonight. A date after work, maybe. Something big." He looked at Catherine. "You've gotta tell her the whole version. Un-minimized."
"Or else we're all in for another round of 'will they, won't they'," Warrick finished up.
"If Grissom managed to get a message to me, don't you think he would have been able to get one to Sara, too?" she reasoned.
"Sara's been having trouble with her phone at home," Greg recalled. "She told me she was about ready to switch companies. Some of her incoming calls haven't been getting through."
"She does have a cell," Catherine reminded them.
"Which she left in my car yesterday after we drove out to that 419 at the Palms," Warrick said, plucking the object in question out of his back pocket. "I turned it off so it would go straight to voice mail for her."
"How much do you want to bet that there's one or two messages from Grissom?"
Catherine considered all of this evidence before letting out a long, self-suffering sigh. "Fine. But I've said it before and I'll say it again. Co-workers and lovers…it never works."
After she left to find Sara, Greg shook his head. "How is she the people person around here?"
You had to be more than merely infatuated with a man if you saw him in a hospital gown, holding a blue barf bag up to his mouth, and you still found him reasonably attractive. You had to be in love. It was like the ultimate test. If she'd had any doubts before, they all flew out the window when Sara parted the privacy curtain of the ER examination area and came upon a very pale, very sick Grissom…and instead of feeling angry or repulsed, all she wanted to do was take him into her arms and make him better.
"So this is where you've been hiding," she said, with a half-smile.
He refused to meet her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Sara."
"I know, baby." She moved closer to him, in order to lay her hand against his damp brow. "But you're the one who insists on eating meat."
"I'm never touching chicken again," Grissom swore. "But that's not what I'm apologizing for. I'm sorry that I…"
"Hey." Sara sat down on a stool that had been pulled up alongside his bed. "It's not your fault."
"I let you down. Again."
She shook her head. "'We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears.' Francois duc de la Rochefoucauld."
There was a pause. "How long have you been sitting on that one?"
"Ten years," Sara admitted.
He smiled, then, just as quickly as it had come, the smile faded. "Do you believe Rochefoucauld?" He swallowed. "Do you think that's what happened tonight?"
"I don't think you planned to get food poisoning," she replied after a moment. "But I think…just maybe, you weren't entirely sorry that you did."
Grissom thought about her words for a full minute's worth of drops from the IV bag hooked into his arm. "No," he finally said.
Sara nodded, biting the inside of her cheek to keep her eyes from watering. "That's what I thought."
"No. I mean, no. That's not it. Eating undercooked chicken wasn't a subconsciously fortuitous event, Sara." He looked her straight in the eye. "It was the worst thing to happen at the worst time possible. Because I had every intention of fulfilling my promise tonight, in spite of any fears that either one of us might have."
She took a shaky breath. "You did?"
"I did. I even have the ring. Check my pants pocket." He pointed to the tan slacks folded up in another chair.
Sara pulled out the little black velvet box with trembling hands. "Two carats in a platinum band," she whispered. "Hard to disapprove."
"I had to show up Greg Sanders just a bit." A wave of nausea hit him and he reached for his blue bag.
When the bout passed, Sara smoothed a stray, salt and pepper curl off his forehead and wiped his mouth with a wet towel a nurse thoughtfully provided. "At least we'll never forget this moment," Sara told him, looking on the bright side. "It'll make for a priceless engagement story."
"I'm not asking you to marry me," Grissom said, settling back into the pillows. "Not here, not like this. Even if I have to break part of my vow, you are going to get the proposal you were promised." He closed his eyes. "I won't be too late…will I?"
Sara folded her hands around his and brushed a kiss across his knuckles. "You really, really won't be."
Six months and six days after Greg Sanders' proposal, the crime lab was treated to another public display of affection when Gil Grissom asked Sara Sidle to be his lover, the mother of his children, his devil's advocate, his student, his teacher, his partner…his wife.
There were no bets as to what her answer would be.
Fini (for real this time)