Laying It Out
By Miss Jazz
Category: Angst/Romance, GSR.
Summary: Grissom talks to Sara. Sequel to "The Look Of Love." GSR.
Spoilers: "Scuba Doobie Doo," "Play With Fire," and "Getting Off."
Disclaimer: I still don't own CSI. Shucks!
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who reviewed "The Look Of Love." Many of you wanted to see a sequel and I was so happy about that (Indeed, I was very touched)! I too felt that it needed a sequel so...here it is! The last chapter of Faithful Light IS coming. It's just taking me forever to write. I want to get it right! Endings are always the hardest, especially when the story means so much to me! Thanks again for reading and reviewing!
It was early in the morning and Grissom was sitting in his office, accompanied by his trusted old friend, silence. It seemed like a lifetime had gone by since Catherine left him standing outside, incredulous and hopeful. But in reality, it had only been two hours and her words were still echoing loudly in his mind, bouncing around in his skull like ping pong balls. He was still so very confused. One trusted friend was telling him to go for it while another trusted friend was making him feel very safe and comfortable in his predictable, isolated world. And the friend he trusted the most was in the layout room, unaware of her supervisor's musings, unaware that he really wanted her to be more than a trusted friend after all.
Oh, if only the world would just stop spinning!
Knowing that it wouldn't, Grissom sighed and he forced himself onto his feet, feeling immediately lightheaded. He swayed a little, but he managed to stay standing, even though he was shaking and short of breath. His knees were fighting so hard for him, resisting the temptation to just give out and send him falling back into his seat, into silent safety. They held him up, and they helped him hobble along as he slowly left his office and headed down the hall. He tried to come up with excuses to turn around, to forget his conversation with Catherine, to forget that he ever saw Nick and Sofia flirting in the interrogation room...but for some reason, he couldn't.
It was now or never.
And never wasn't an option.
Grissom knew it. His knees knew it. Catherine knew it. And Sara was about to know it too. His jaw twitched nervously at his thoughts. He was shaking all over now–from his fingers all the way down to his toes. His mind was obviously shaking too because he briefly wondered if Sara was even still there. He barely noticed that he was being irrational; the shift wasn't even over yet! So of course she was still there! Of course she was still working. Sara would be working for hours after the shift ended and she would be working for hours before the next one started. She was always working. And he was always there too, pretending that he didn't feel anything, pretending that he didn't think that she was the most brilliant and beautiful woman in the entire world...
"What am I doing?" he mumbled under his breath, as he came to a jolting stop just outside the layout room. He could see Sara through the window and he stared, his heart pounding out of control, screaming at him to retreat. But his knees were locked, his feet rooted, his eyes fixed on the woman he wanted so badly he could just break down right there in the hall.
Go in, he silently scolded himself, as he took a calming breath–a feeble effort to help loosen his limbs. It worked–but he was now too enveloped in Sara's gentle movements to make a move of his own, for fear of missing something, anything...even the slightest tilt of her head. She captivated him–every single, incredible part of her. He couldn't tear his eyes away!
With another calming breath, he moved a little bit closer to the doorway, noting how small and weary she looked, how her dark brown hair framed her cheeks and fell softly against her shoulders. She looked tired but she looked so beautiful. Her cheeks were rosy; her eyes were gentle and stunning, full of thoughts...
Okay, go in, he told himself again, his mind desperately trying to escape his trance. Layout room. Go in. Just do it. Just go into the layout room and, well...lay it all out. Talk to her. Do it now. Get your ass in gear or you'll never know! He cringed, knowing very well that Catherine's words were going to keep bouncing around in his head–or maybe even tap dance and swim laps up there–until he did something about 'this'.
So he took one more calming breath and he walked in, praying that he'd finally feel free when he walked out again. He could only hope that Sara would feel free too and that she would feel all the other wonderful things he'd wanted her to feel for so long.
She didn't look up when he crept in on his unsteady legs. Her gaze was locked on the table; she was immersed in her work, organizing a series of photographs. Her fingertips danced around the edges of the pictures, moving them around carefully, rearranging them so they would tell her a story. He watched, admiring her skill, her delicate fingers...
And then suddenly, he managed to pull one word from the blank, hollow space in his head–the space that his now very absent brain normally occupied.
It was quiet, it was awkward, and it was certainly less than elegant...
But she looked up at him with a smile, her brown eyes warm and unsuspecting. "Hey," she replied, giving him a small, tired nod."Really good timing–I think I finally found something. Look at the spatter here–" She pointed at one of the photos and then at another one. "–And here." She looked up again to meet his stiff, troubled gaze and then managed to say, "the spatter on the one wall is completely different," before stopping. She was obviously realizing that he wasn't there to talk about spatter...of any kind. She was, indeed, a quick one.
"Yes. That's uh, that's good work," he muttered softly, even though he hadn't heard a single word. He couldn't even bring himself to look at the pictures. He was reeling; his impatient knees were about to give up on him...he was sure of it. Don't you dare, he grumbled in thought. This is hard enough as it is. I don't think I'd be able to do it after passing out on her. He bit his lip. No. Definitely not.
With a worried frown, Sara abandoned the pictures and moved closer to him, staring him down with wide eyes. "Griss? Is everything okay?" She paused, somewhat nervously, before adding: "are you okay?" Her face became very tight with concern, but God, she still looked beautiful...
Always so beautiful...
With a soft sigh, Grissom nodded quickly and tried to focus. "I'm fine. You?"
She nodded back, looking completely unconvinced. "Fine. Thanks."
"Well, uh...well, that's good. I was, uh, I was just–"
"In the neighbourhood?" She teased him lightly and he knew it was because she was concerned. She was inching closer to him, cautiously, like she was approaching a skittish stallion. "You're sure you're okay?"
"Yes. I'm sure."
"Okay..." Sara sighed. "But you really don't look good, Grissom." She began to study his eyes carefully. "Is everything okay with Nick's B and E? Catherine was here about an hour ago and she said you were checking up on his case."
Grissom's eyes shot open. "Did she say anything else?"
He shook his head, remaining silent, and Sara became very pale.
"Grissom, what is it? What's going on?"
"Nothing, Sara. Everything is fine." Shifting his weight from one weak leg to the other, he let out a long breath and tilted his head to the side. "Well, I'm, uh, I'm not sure, but I think everything is fine."
"You think?" Sara raised one eyebrow. "Griss, when it comes to cases, you don't think; you know. " Her gaze travelled to his legs; he was still shifting nervously from side to side. His movements were very subtle, and anyone else wouldn't have noticed. But Sara always noticed everything. "Do you want to sit down?" she asked, in surprise.
"No, I'm okay," he insisted.
She pointed at his legs. "Clearly you're not. Are you feeling alright?"
Grissom swallowed a lump of boiling hot fear. This could go on forever. Just tell her. Do it. You're being so obvious that she's going to figure it out anyway. Open your mouth. Now. "I'm not sick, Sara," he whispered hoarsely.
"No, I'm not." His hands began to shake visibly. "I'm...nervous."
He thought he might choke on that one. He didn't hear himself say it, but judging from Sara's puzzled reaction, the word had managed to escape his lips and was now sizzling in the air. He pressed his lips together, wondering if he should stop while he was ahead, wondering if he could stop. Words–and unfamiliar emotions–were marching their way out of his heart, up his esophagus and into the back of his throat. They were coming...
Sara just looked at him blankly. "You? Nervous?"
"It happens sometimes."
She took another step, moving even closer to him. "Why? What's bothering you? Do you...want to talk about it?" When he nodded slowly, she took a deep breath, shuddering a little and looking completely shocked. "You want to talk about it with...me?"
"Yes, I do," he breathed.
He nodded again. The words were now marching across his tongue with ferocious speed, pushing at his lips, poking sharply. Grissom was almost sure that his words were carrying swords; they were prepared to force themselves out, no matter what. Please don't hurt me, he silently begged. It was a helpless plea–one directed at the words and at Sara. Just don't hurt me...
Sara's hand fell onto his arm, her fingers squeezing gently. "It's okay," she said quietly, uneasily. "You...you can tell me...anything. I'll listen."
For a brief moment, he considered dragging it out a little longer. Sara's soft concern, her gentle gaze, her tender touch–he was comforted by it all. He was tempted to just stand there and soak it all in...
But the swords were sharp!
"I miss you," he blurted out, his hand reaching up to grasp Sara's fingers. He squeezed them hard, holding her hand for a brief moment before letting it go and freezing in panic. "Sara, I–"
"You miss me?" she whispered, her eyes darting around, her gaze shifting rapidly from Grissom's eyes to her hand, then to his hand, and then back again to his blue orbs. "But...you see me every day."
"I know," he replied, his voice wavering. I think I've heard that before. He tried to remember exactly when he'd heard her say that but more words were about to fight their way out, despite his panic."But I haven't been seeing you, really. I haven't seen you in a long time. I, uh, I haven't been letting myself see you. And...I miss you."
Sara blushed; her expression was suddenly full of fear and hope. "This is why you're nervous?" she asked, in a tiny voice. "Because you...miss me?"
"Sort of...I'm nervous because, well, because I'm telling you that I, uh, that I...miss you." He was stumbling over the words as they spilled from his lips, out of his control. The swords were pointed and poking...over and over again. It hurt–mentally. It hurt in a very good and confusing way.
"Okay..." Sara took a deep, uneven breath. "I'm...I'm not sure I understand, Grissom..."
Grissom's heart was thundering in his ears. He wanted to just sink down to the floor. She doesn't understand. I knew it. Gil Grissom-you idiot! She doesn't feel anything for you anymore! She never did, really. You imagined that 'look' all along! Catherine is a certified nutcase who has no idea what she's talking about! Retreat! He backed up a little, his knees becoming even weaker. "Sara..."
She reached out to touch his arm again, as if she were trying to stop him from fleeing. "I...I mean I think I understand," she whispered, biting her lip. "I...hope I do..."
He didn't have time to be relieved or even to breathe. More words came; more sharp swords...
Don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. Don't hurt me. Don't hurt me...
"I, uh, I have feelings," he sighed softly. "I know you think that I don't, but...I do."
Sara shuddered again, her movements slight and delicate. She didn't reply–she just stared at him. She stared so hard that he felt her looking right into his soul. She was giving him that look. And he could see it! He could actually see it!
Does that mean I'm not afraid anymore? Does that mean I can actually do this?
Grissom didn't know. But what he did know was that he was melting, right there in front of her. He was losing control of his thoughts, of his body... He closed his eyes for a moment, wondering if he could pull himself together in only a few seconds. He doubted it; the world was starting to become very fuzzy around him. "I...I...have feelings..."
"You already said that," Sara told him, her voice barely audible.
"I know...but I didn't finish." He opened his eyes slowly, clearing his throat. "There's more..."
She gave him a warm and wobbly smile. "There is?"
Her timid fingers slipped into his, her thumb brushing quickly across his palm. He wasn't sure if she was being a friend and trying to help him relax, or if it was an intimate gesture, or both."Is this for real, Grissom?" she breathed, as uncertainty pooled in her eyes. Her fingers were reluctant, moving loosely under his, and he realized that she was already preparing herself to pull away, if need be. "Is this really...for real?"
"God, I think so." He sighed deeply, gripping her hand. "There is more, Sara."
She bit her lip. "Are you sure you're okay? Nothing's going on?" She was becoming pale again. "I'm sorry...I...I just don't want to misinterpret this. You...you look so...shocked."
"Well, I actually think I might be...in shock," he admitted slowly, feeling panicky again. His mind was spinning, his heart was pounding, and his impatient knees were now screaming at him. Stick with me knees, just a little longer...
"You really should sit down," Sara said softly. She tugged at his hand gently, leading him over to the far wall where exactly two lonely, discarded chairs awaited them. He sat, and he let out a breath of relief. She sat, looking at him desperately.
"Better," he told her. "This is...better."
"Do you need anything?"
He nodded, ever so slightly.
She squeezed his hand. "What can I do?"
He licked his lips and then met her gaze; their uncertain eyes now matched. "Forgive me," he breathed. "Forgive me and tell me I'm not too late. That's...that's what you can do."
She blinked rapidly and she started to tremble, just like him. Her uncertainty slowly gave way to relief, and to happiness, which–sadly–seemed so very foreign in her eyes. Moments passed in silence as she continued to stare at him, but then she cleared her throat. "You could never be too late, Grissom," she finally replied, now in her own shocked daze.
Grissom processed her words and he wanted to lean in and kiss her, right there in the layout room. He wanted to–he wanted it more than he'd ever wanted anything before–but his words, with their pointed swords, would not be denied. He tried to sort them out in his head."Sara..."
"You said there was more," she whispered, begging him to continue. "Tell me? Please?"
Everything seemed so strange–he didn't really have a choice. He had to tell her. But by now, he really, really wanted to. "I love the way you look at me," he said quickly, shifting in his seat to face her. "I...I love that look you give me. I love how...how you can tell me so many things...just by staring."
"Is that what you wouldn't let yourself see?" She sounded hurt, but her eyes were shining.
"Yes," he admitted. "I thought it was you. I thought you had stopped looking at me...that way. I...I thought you didn't feel...that way...anymore."
"You were afraid?"
He gave her a sad, reluctant nod. "Yes."
She bowed her head, her brown hair dangling further down her shoulders. "I've always felt that way, Grissom," she breathed. "I never stopped. I think I might have tried to...but I couldn't." She let out a light, mirthless chuckle. "I don't think I would ever be able to stop."
"Good...because..."He tilted his head until he could see her face again, until he was close to ear. "I have feelings," he whispered softly, yet again. But then, in a wavering, hoarse voice, he added the rest of it: "I have feelings...for you."
She laughed lightly again and he briefly wondered if she didn't believe him. But he didn't have to wonder for long, because she brought her free hand up to his cheek and he knew for a fact that there was no chalk dust there. "Griss..." she said, her voice so bright and cracked and relieved and affectionate that it made him gasp out loud. "I just...can't believe you're saying this," she continued, now tearfully. "Especially at work. In the layout room..." She let out another gentle laugh.
"I know," he replied, in an equally bewildered tone. Then, he hesitated for a moment. "I, uh, I would ask you to dinner right now but I don't think I...deserve to."
Her fingers trailed lightly along his cheek. "Well, I don't know about that," she told him, her whole face turning bright red. "But I'm more concerned about the fact that you're in shock. We can't have dinner if you can't even stand up."
He took a deep breath, shaking as the air went in. "I can stand up now," he assured her, feeling confident again. And he did. He stood up in one swift motion, bringing her with him, their hands still entwined. His knees–now finally satisfied–held him up with no reluctance at all. But he was still shaking–out of shock, pure relief and happiness.
"Why don't we get you to your office?" Sara suggested. Her smile was warm and broad but it was also full of concern. Carefully, she wrapped her own shaking fingers around his wrist. "I'll get you a nice glass of water and then I'll finish up with these photos and then..."
"And then?" Still in a world of fuzz, he studied her expression, praying.
"And then we talk about dinner when your pulse is under 100."
He froze. "It's normally 70."
Sara squeezed his hand again. "I know. That's why I'm concerned." After looking around to make sure nobody was watching, she touched his cheek again gently, and then she started to lead him out of the layout room.
Stop shaking, Grissom silently told himself. She still cares about you. She wants to have dinner with you. You told her how you feel and you didn't pass out. You don't have to be nervous anymore. But he couldn't stop trembling. "It's...it's not just the shock you know," he whispered to Sara, as they moved into the hall. "I meant it, honey. Every word..."
"I know, Griss. I know you did," she breathed.
He stopped and he stared into her eyes again, breathing in and out at a fast pace. She gazed back at him with warmth that he had never felt before. And then, a small, dazed smile curved his lips.