Quick thanks: Anni, Lauren, Christy and LK.
She remembered the date, every year without fail she remembered. September 17th, year in, year out. She'd catalogue the new wrinkles on her face, what she had learned under his tutelage. Sara would recall tattered notes and shy glances over the rims of coffee or tea or beer. She would remember how he touched her that last night, gentle hard resting at her lower back, a space forever invisibly tattooed.
He too remembered, but made no outward show of the recollection. Every year, every single one, he would touch the one and the seven that denoted the day with a gentle finger as if not stroking paper, but skin over cheekbone. Every year, like a resolution he would promise himself that he would make more of an effort.
Secrets revealed and off of his chest he promised with every passing year but they were never aired to her. He'd watch as a new line appeared around her eye, watch her laugh and smile and he would wonder when he would lose her to another man.
The seventeenth of two-thousand and five breezed in just as simply as it had any other year. A touch upon a calendar, an awakening at night wondering if the year would be any different. It brought with it obtuse promises, failed attempts, regret that nearly wracked the entire frame with its intensity.
Dark halls shrouded them tighter in desperation and they moved about, oblivious to the other's knowledge of the day, of the implication. Reports were handed back and forth, hands brushed, words were uttered but neither acknowledged the annual phantom of sheer regret in either's eyes.
An hour and a half from shift and Grissom's promise dwindled away to near nothingness inside of his head. Until he saw her pass by, slowly retreating down the hall, did he recall this year's pledge. 'Make it up to her, all of it.'
Slowly, he followed her, at least six paces back, simply watching her move.
Perspiration beaded at the base of her neck; it pooled in the hollow of her spine. Fear, not because she was frightened of him, but with the way he was gazing at her she feared that palpations he would cause would crack her all too bruised heart.
"How about we…"
If the sentence could have been finished adequately, she wouldn't have known it. The blood coursing past her ears left her dizzy and the rush of anticipation did nothing to dwarf the feeling of uneasy that had washed over her entire frame.
Although fight or flight was kicking in, urging her to flee, she stayed put, urged him on. "How about we what?'
A simple question made harder when she shook with the force of her emotions and stepped into his personal space. "How about we what?"
Thread bare was his resolve and with a hand that was shaking just as much as her frame was, he reached out and touched her arm. The action on its own wasn't intense by any means, but the temperature of his fingertips, the texture, the look in his eyes, they made her quiver and step a little closer. Just a little closer.
The swallow he performed was audible, the moment was that intense. The slow bob of his Adams apple caused her to lick her lips, slow and moist and as she watched him, he watched her. "How… about we celebrate."
A smile, brilliant really in its magnificence, bloomed up on her lips and spread right across her cheeks to register in her eyes. "You remembered."
It was his turn to add to the equation and he moved right up in front of her. The warmth of his body seeped onto hers and she could swear it sated her, deep down in her bones. "So did you."
Sara glanced down at the hard still claiming her arm. "It's been… ten years."
"Mmm, it has." Fingertips then caressing the underside of her arm, the part that even the sun did not dare touch. Her gaze traveled up his arm, over the curve of his shoulder, that place she had always wanted to sink her teeth into, followed the bristles of his beard, over a cheekbone to his eyes.
She had bypassed his lips but his own eyes told her that he too was smiling. It was a fantastic feeling to be sharing a moment with him, a fantastic feeling being wrapped up in a single moment.
"Celebrate," she asked, somehow once again fifteen, flushing at the options that had been laid before her, tucking a frizzy strand of hair behind her ear. "How… does that happen?"
The hand on her arm tugged and he set off walking, she in tow. Rounding corners, passing people, she wondered if they could see it in her eyes, the relief, the near-elation. They slipped one after the other into his darkened office.
Sara slid into the visitor's chair and he, instead of sitting behind his desk he sank down onto the thoroughly uncomfortable excuse for a loveseat that normally sat undisturbed, tucked away in the corner.
She had to swivel her body in order to face him, in order to see him. "We have to talk about this… here?"
Grissom licked his lips and glanced down at his folded hands. "I feel more comfortable here, yes." With that, his hands unclasped and held the sofa at his sides. "And, to answer your question, people generally celebrate with either cake or alcohol in most cases."
Sara's lips pulled back to reveal teeth, a grin dwarfing the earlier one appearing on her face. The words were all coming naturally, unhurried, not forced.
"So perhaps," one side of his face twitched and a cheek dimpled in a half smile. "Drinks and dessert."
"That… sounds like a… plan."
The air was stale and smelled of dust but she swore she could smell the perspiration on his own skin. How she longed to taste it. "And maybe we can start over," he voiced in a semi whisper.
That startled Grissom, his head snapped up and his eyes went wide. "No…" There was questioning in the tone, but of a careful nature. "No?"
"Grissom, I don't, Jesus, I don't want to start over." Sara sighed but kept her voice gentle, near weary. "Starting over…" How to explain something so complex in words? "Starting over means learning you again. It means… it means fumbling and blushing and… well I'm doing that now but… we've come so far that to start over… don't you wonder what you would miss?"
"I want to move on." She paused, willing herself not to wring her hands. "I think we should move on."
There was no ambiguity in her words, as she was looking directly at him, possibly through him, he couldn't rightly tell. "Do you like cannolis?"
"Cannolis are good." Those words, asking of Italian desserts crack her heart deeply. It wasn't the sentiment, it was the way he said the words, the delicate saffron edge of his voice eliciting the shivers in her stomach. Tiny little flickers of ice sliding up her burning insides.
"Dessert and some sort of…drink I suppose." He nodded to himself and to her. "And talking."
Talking, exactly like what they were doing right now. Sara was shocked at the ease with which the words flowed from the both of them, how they were able to speak frankly and clearly about what they intended to do and the things that they wanted.
"Well then," she spoke up, palms caressing the jeans covering her thighs. "Maybe we should wait for a time when we both have a night off."
Piquing his interest, and finding himself much more at comfort with the situation at hand, Grissom leaned back on the couch and laid a hand lazily on the arm. "Why wait for a night off? Why not this morning when we're through…"
For the first time since they had encountered each other that day, she was shy. "I just… want us both to be… sure, I suppose."
Forefinger and middle finger to his temple and he smiled at her. "Every year, around this time, I wonder if anything has changed. I wonder if anything will change."
"And every year I think that maybe I'll say something. Maybe you'll say something." Sara was shaking her head, half in amusement, half in sadness. "And I think, every year, that maybe on one particular day during that year we can wake up next to each other and know that we don't have to remember the seventeenth anymore."
Sara was torn between being taken and with being horrified. "But… I don't ever want to forget."
"I guess, I." Sara laughed at herself and loosened her posture. "This is going to sound… something other than normal but… that was the day that began a period of my life… when I found out that I knew how to… love… something, someone." Grissom blinked and moved to speak but she cut him off abruptly. "Not at that moment, after, two, three years after, but that's where it began."
"Well… maybe we can meet this morning anyhow." Grissom slid forward on the sofa and steeled his fingers in front of his eyes with his elbows resting on his knees. Her hands were bone white, though she wasn't clenching them around anything; it was simply due to the lack of blood in regions of her body. It was all being used to pump her heart at an intensely erratic beat.
It took her a moment to re-wet her lips. "Oh, but, okay."
"And I, like a proper man should, will pick you up at your apartment around eight." With that, Grissom got to his feet. "And you, like a proper lady," oh, the smile that bloomed on his lips was far from innocent. "Will greet me with a good morning kiss."
Slightly flabbergasted, she swore she wouldn't fumble the verbal ball. "When have I ever been a lady?"
Grissom sat down behind his desk and pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose. "Well… then perhaps I'll get a bit more than a kiss."
Sara got herself out of the chair and walked from the office but not before muttering, "In your dreams."
"That's very true," Grissom whispered to himself and popped the cap off of a ballpoint pen.
Her mind was focused on work for most of the night, simply because if she thought about him even once, she would be unable to distinguish between cat hair and human hair and that was a distinction that she didn't want to screw up (because if she did, she'd never hear the end of it, it was so very easy). If, if she thought of him she might march straight to his office and tell him that while the thought of kissing him, like a lot, was very appealing it scared the hell out of her for so many reasons.
When you have a dream, she knew, everything could end up revolving around it. If it wasn't fantastic and lovely and everything you could ever want, there was a good chance that when you get it, you became disappointed with the reality. Then you became disappointed that you were disappointed in the first place. And then you learned that maybe it just wasn't safe to dream like that.
When she was through with her work for the day she grabbed her things and exited the lab; she didn't bother saying goodbye to him. It was of no use when she was just going to be seeing him in nearly an hour.
There were no first date jitters to cloud her mind. It wasn't a date; she doubted if anything between the two of them could rightly be called a date. That didn't matter. She'd lost her train of thought. That didn't matter either… she just wouldn't think.
It was no longer the seventeenth; the day had passed with neither of them noticing. But, Sara reasoned to herself, since they worked nights and missed half of their so-called anniversary, she could snag an extra half of a day.
She dropped her keys on top of her coat, which she had tossed on the sofa. In the bathroom she ran a brush through her hair and washed off her eye shadow.
When her cell phone rang she didn't bother to pick it up, just tossed on a fresh shirt and left her apartment, bag in hand. Walking down the hallway with her head down, lost in thought which she promised herself she wouldn't think.
She walked directly into him as he was walking down the hall to her apartment. "Oh god, I'm-…Grissom."
"Yes," there was something in his hands, she felt it pressed in between their bodies but she didn't look down. "Happy… anniversary?"
"Those words sound so odd coming out of your mouth," she said.
'Maybe I can say it next year,' he thought to himself. 'And maybe the year after that and the year after that one too…' "Happy anniversary," he said with more gusto, and tilting his head, as if asking something of her, a tiny smirk on his lips, eyes wide and wanting, "And good morning."
Her head fell forward, nearly touching his chest. She lifted it after a moment, smiling lightly and though she was quite sure she was going insane she brushed his lips with hers. His were rough, cracked and thin.
Sara pulled back, placed a hand on his chest and walked past him even as he tried to hand her the flowers he had brought.
After a moment, she stopped and spun around and while Grissom stopped short of slamming directly into her, she moved right up to him and pulled him down for a real kiss, opening his mouth with hers. When she pulled back she touched her lips and wondered what it would feel like to do that every day, every year… every seventeenth.
"Know what?" she asked, licking her lips and looking up to him with delightfully hooded lids. "How do you feel about Bud and Godiva?"
"What?" Grissom asked, still stunned by the kiss, still holding the now limp flowers in his hand.
"I have some beer and half of a Godiva chocolate cheesecake in my fridge…"
Grissom nodded and waited for her to continue.
"…and I can't help but wonder how your mouth will taste… after you have those things."