Author's Note: I'm not going to be a smartarse and write some not-terribly-amusing jibe about how I don't own CSI. But I don't. What follows are merely the ramblings of a person with too much time on their hands. Still, after that moment of rudeness, a review or two might massage my wounded ego and make me a bit nicer.
There's nothing, pondered Sara, that hurts more than rejection. Or perhaps the acute embarrassment that rejection brings. That was why she had never asked Grissom to dinner a second time - couldn't face that indescribable mental anguish again.
But maybe with Greg it doesn't count, she reasoned to herself as she shoved her jacket into the locker. He hadn't actually turned her down when she'd asked him out for a drink that night on the Sherlock case; rather he hadn't actually said anything at all. And to be fair, even if he had heard her, it was hardly a shocking request – a 'celebration' between two colleagues on cracking a case – where was the harm in that? A perfectly innocent question. Wasn't it? Then why had she spent a cool six months agonizing over whether or not to ask again?
In all fairness, they had gone out for a drink - several drinks, since then. Just not alone; there was always Nick with them, or Warrick, or more than likely half the lab. And that wasn't what she was after. What she had wanted, that night, wasn't anything sordid, or even really sexual – she had wanted to chat, as friends, not just as colleagues. They just got along in some special, indefinable way. Perhaps Grissom had seen it too, and that was why she kept finding herself paired up with Greg, even before the team had split. There was a spark there; what sort of spark, she wasn't quite sure.
Realizing that she had been staring at the closed door of her locker for a good three minutes, Sara sighed, clipped on her ID and made her way to the break room. She glanced at her watch; as ever, she was half an hour early. She thought about making a start on the paperwork she had left over from the B&E from the previous night. The swing shifters would most likely be out in the field, Greg would roll in five minutes late, no doubt, and Grissom would be holed up in his office, so she would have the break room to herself.
But apparently not tonight. Sliding back the glass door, she heard the tinny noise leakage of a walkman set way too loud. Sat there on the sofa with his back to her was Greg, headphones in, leafing through a copy of the National Enquirer. Sara smiled, and closed the door. Pulling out a headphone, she whispered into his ear, 'I think I passed Satan on the way to work. He had a shiny new snowplow.'
Greg jumped. 'Eh?'
'Joke, Tinnitus Boy. You know that probably counts as noise pollution?'
'What? Oh.' Greg swung his legs over the arm of the sofa and pulled out his remaining headphone. 'New toy. Look! iPod. Shiny. Put all CDs on and still have room to spare.'
Sara raised an eyebrow. 'I'd turn it down a little if you value your eardrums. Anyway, what are you doing here?'
'I work here, Sar.'
'Very funny. I mean why are you here now? I could count the number of times you've been early this year on the fingers of one hand.'
'Oh… I see. Good point. Well, you know the lovely new GCMS the lab bought with the money for the key CSI promotion? It finally arrived, and Ecklie didn't trust any of the new lab techs to oversee installation, so I had to forfeit my sleep-in. I've been hard at work since noon, you know.'
'That doesn't look like the Journal of Forensic Science in your hand.'
'Oh, this?' stuttered Greg, gesturing at his tabloid. 'This is… never mind.' He stuffed it back under the cushion of the sofa.
Sara grinned. 'I always wondered where you hid those.'
'Don't tell Grissom. I've been cultivating this grown-up image with him, and I think it's working.'
'You do, huh?' said Sara as she flipped on the kettle. 'Come on, Greggo. Everyone knows you used to keep your porn hidden in the immunology textbooks.'
'What?' he cried, leaping up. 'Did Nick tell you? The scumbag…'
'No. One night when you were on a break Catherine and Grissom went to look up something on Kaposi's sarcoma, and when they opened the textbook a copy of Penthouse fell out.'
'What I want to know,' said Sara, smirking over her mug of tea, 'is why you had a copy of Teen People in there too.'
'Oh, that…' Greg fidgeted and examined the contents of the fridge. 'That would have been for the pictures of Natalie Portman. Or Kelly Rowland. Depends which issue it was.'
'Nice, Greg. You've got this grown-up thing in the bag, huh?'
'Yeah. Well, sort of. See? I have respectable shirts now. With buttons. And my sneakers are black.'
'And vaguely normal hair,' commented Sara, putting a hand out to touch his bangs, then quickly pulling away as she realized how physically close they were.
'Yup.' He smiled a shy, lopsided smile. 'You like?'
'Yeah. I prefer you with the natural look.'
'You do?' said Greg, perhaps a little too eagerly, he thought on reflection. 'Thanks. Anyway, you're hardly one to talk – we all know you're a curly girl really.'
'That's not the same. Straight hair occurs naturally in the general population. Straight hair with spikes that's radioactive orange does not.'
'Unless you're Chuckie out of Rugrats.'
'What?' asked Sara, peering at him in genuine bemusement.
'Never mind. It's a non-grown-up thing. Actually, come to think of it, his hair isn't straight either…'
Sara watched Greg over the rising steam of her tea as he prattled on about hair, and cartoons, and his missing cookies in the fridge, and realized that it was precisely his childlike preoccupations that made Greg so refreshingly different to anyone else she knew. He was a smart guy, that was unquestionable, but until now Sara had always thought that smart went hand in hand with serious. But then again, thought Sara, sometimes it's nice to be proved wrong.