Author's Notes: To follow.
Someone Else's Star
by Kristen Elizabeth
The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become. – Charles Dubois
Brass had no use for the politics of law enforcement. But after so many years and a few too many brushes with the dark side of his profession, he had to admit…it was getting pretty good at the game.
He emerged from his latest chat with IAB with both his job and his dignity intact, and that was a personal best. But, then, no one had died. And he'd possibly saved a criminalist, who happened to be a close friend, in the process. His wrist barely stung from the light slap IAB had given it.
When he reached the comforting solitude of his office, Brass shut the door, sank into his chair and reached for the bottle of scotch he kept around for occasions such as this. A finger of liquid relaxation was all he allowed himself, and really all he needed.
He'd just settled back with his glass when there was a knock on his door. "Enter at your own risk," he called out, figuring anyone who wasn't worth talking to would heed this warning, and keep walking.
It was Grissom who darkened his doorway, and he meant that literally. A thundercloud seemed to hang over his head as if he was a cartoon character. He moved like he was walking through syrup.
Brass immediately put the liquor away. No need to set his friend down that path again.
He watched Grissom sit down in front of his desk. The movements were performed from memory; his eyes were open, but he wasn't seeing much of anything. Brass let him sit there for about a minute. Finally, he took it upon himself to snap Grissom out of it.
"So, IAB cleared me. Apparently, it's okay that I shot someone to save your ass. They like you, Gil. They really like you." When this got no response, Brass sighed. "If there's something on your mind, just get it out. Okay? It's been a hell of a day, and I…"
"She might be pregnant." Grissom blinked and for a second, his eyes focused. "I could be a father."
Choking on scotch, even good scotch, wasn't fun. Brass's nose burned and he coughed until he could breathe again. He used the time to process what he'd just heard.
They'd finally done it. Huh.
Setting his glass aside, Brass cleared the last of the liquor out of his throat. "Might be? Long way from 'the strip turned blue.' Or pink. Whatever color it turns these days."
That was supposed to be comforting, but Grissom didn't seem to be comforted. If anything, the observation jarred something inside his mind. His stupor melted away to reveal…agitation.
"How could she just…dump that on me and walk away? I know that I've made mistakes where she's concerned…massive mistakes…"
Brass injected a quick, "Monumental."
"…but if it's true…" Grissom took a breath. "If she is…" His rant lost all of its steam and he slumped back into his chair. "Oh, god…what if she is?"
"If she is…" He shrugged. "You'll at least be able to answer the question 'who's your daddy?'" The glare he received had him holding his hands up, apologetically. "Sorry." A moment passed. "If she is, she is. And you'll deal with it."
"Because my track record of dealing with Sara is so good up until now." Sarcasm didn't suit Grissom. Brass was almost relieved when he hung his head and said, "What's going to happen now?"
"Does my head look like a Magic Eight Ball?" He winced. "Don't answer that."
The sudden look of anguish on his friend's face was potent enough to wipe away all joking. "I have been running away from her ever since I met her. And I've actually convinced myself that I did it for her sake." He shook his head. "I did it for my sake. To protect myself."
"Seems to me that it was not 'protecting' yourself that got you into this potential situation."
Grissom snorted softly. "Well, I came to the right place for brutal honesty."
Brass smiled. "It's what I do."
"Then be brutally honest and tell me what I should do." Looking down at his hands, he mumbled, "Because I can't rationalize what I'm feeling."
"You know that you're not supposed to, right?" Sighing, Brass leaned forward. "Listen, Gil…I've known you for a long time. I've seen you date about a dozen women. I've seen you get bored. I've seen you get dumped. But I have never seen you get drunk." He lifted his shoulders. "You only get that shit-faced over the ones that really matter."
Grissom's brow furred into a deep scowl. "I know she matters, Jim. I just don't know what to do about all the complications."
He shrugged again. "I think you heard me just fine." His friend continued to stare at him. "What do you want, Gil? A step-by-step instruction manual? A great speech that makes everything magically fall into place for you? You're a big boy. Figure it out." Brass stood up. "Now…and I say this with nothing but respect and friendship…get the hell out of here."
When he reached the door again, Grissom looked back. "Do you think I could actually do it? Be in a relationship?" He swallowed. "Be a parent?"
"I think that you should've slept on that before you slept with her." Brass pointed at the door. "Adios, amigo."
She desperately wanted a beer, but settled for a comfort of another kind. Macaroni and cheese. The orange powder stuff. It was like being back in college.
After mixing up her dinner, Sara took the entire bowl to the couch. A DVD was already in her machine; she turned it on and sat back to watch the one movie that spelled guilty pleasure. She managed to polish off half the bowl as she watched the roller-skating wonder that was Xanadu.
Perhaps it was just her current mood, but she'd never noticed how many similarities there were between Olivia Newton John's goddess character and Grissom. They both spoke in riddles and poetry, keeping secrets and never fully revealing themselves. They showed up, inspired and educated, made the target of their attentions fall in love with them, then disappeared, leaving their lover a shell of the person they'd once been.
The male lead in the movie followed his goddess to her reality and convinced Zeus to let her come back to earth. Three days earlier, she'd dropped a bombshell on Grissom and left him in the middle of a shark tank. And while the film had a happy ending, she wasn't at all optimistic about her chances for one.
"…But how can our love succeed… a miracle is what we need…and so I appeal to you…"
Olivia took a breath and there was a knock at her door. With a sigh, Sara paused the movie and hauled herself off the couch. Without looking through the peephole, she pulled the door open.
"Can I come in?" he asked, as though he hadn't always been welcome. She stepped aside. Grissom ventured across the threshold like he was entering a hostile country.
Rather than stand awkwardly until he decided he was ready to say something, Sara tucked back up on the couch. "If you're hungry, forks are in the drawer under the microwave."
A moment passed. "Sara," he finally began. "Why couldn't you just have been another pretty face in the crowd?"
"Just a pretty face I could have dealt with. Maybe coffee would have turned into dinner, and dinner into drinks, and then…" He shook his head. "You would have been out of my system."
"Or if you'd just been smart. We could have shared a platonic friendship. Two intellectuals who enjoyed talking shop." Seconds ticked by before Grissom spoke again. "Why did you have to be both…and so much more?"
Sara stared at him. "Um…I'm sorry?"
"Being beautiful and brilliant is not something you should ever apologize for." He paced to the end of the room. "Let me do the apologizing."
"What are you apologizing for?" she whispered.
He looked back, about to reply, when the frozen image on her television screen caught his eye. His confused frown was one of her favorite expressions. Sara fought back a smile. "Xanadu," was all the explanation she offered.
He couldn't help it. "'In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure-dome decree...'" he recited.
"'Where Alph, the sacred river ran, in caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea,'" she finished up the stanza from the poem which gave the movie its title.
Grissom raised his eyebrows for a brief moment before he plunged ahead. "I hurt you, Sara."
"I know. I was there."
"I did it because I thought Matt was right."
Sara frowned. "Right? Right about what?"
"Everything," was the only answer he offered. "It doesn't matter what he said. All that matters is what I did afterwards. That's what I have to…what I want to apologize for."
She nodded slowly. "Consider your apology accepted." A pause stretched painfully between them. "Is that all?"
"No." Grissom approached the couch. "Sara, I don't care if he was right or wrong about any of it. Everything's different now." He couldn't keep his eyes off her lower belly. "I spent much of the childhood that I can clearly remember without a father. He didn't have a choice in leaving me. I have a choice here." He swallowed heavily. "I want to be a part of my child's life. And being part of its life means being a part of yours."
"You want to be a part of my life now? You're willing to let me in?" Sara stood on shaky legs. Her heart pounded, but her head screamed at her to keep her hopes down to the barest minimum. He was being a good Boy Scout, accepting responsibility for his actions. Nothing more. "You want a relationship."
He inclined his chin. "Yes."
"You want to be with me? You want to fall asleep next to me and wake up beside me. Every day, for the rest of your life?"
"You want to marry me, take me to Lamaze class, hold my hand during labor, get up at two a.m. so I can sleep, go shopping for tiny shoes…cry and laugh and hope and dream…with me?"
There was a split second of hesitation. "I do."
Sara felt the tell-tale twinge of heat behind her eyes that could only be a prelude to tears. "Grissom," she began softly. "I'm not pregnant. It was a false alarm."
All of the air seemed to leave the room.
She closed her eyes, but not before a single tear escaped. "I'm giving you this chance…to take it all back. If I open my eyes and you're gone, it'll be all right. I won't hold it against you. We'll never talk about any of this, ever again. I promise." Sara wet her lips. "But if I open them and you're still here..."
Her own breathing was so loud that she couldn't hear anything else. He could have slammed the door on his way out and she wouldn't have heard it.
She counted down to herself. "Final chance," she warned him after a full minute had passed. For all she knew, she could have been talking to the wall.
Sara's lashes lifted. And she saw blue.
A gasp caught in her throat as a thousand different emotions cascaded through her. Her lower lip glistened, trembling ever so slightly. He was still there. He hadn't left.
"You can't say I didn't warn you," she said, her voice jerking.
Grissom covered the distance between them and drew her face to his for a long, deep kiss. They landed on the couch a moment later; Sara felt the remote under her shoulder, but she ignored it. Even when they shifted and the movement pressed the play button.
They clung to each other as Olivia sang on.
"…keep me suspended in time with you…don't let this moment die…I get a feeling when I'm with you…none of the rules apply…"
"You really thought I was going to walk away. Didn't you?"
She nodded against his chest before turning her face into his warm, soap-scented flesh. No sex had happened that night, but that wasn't to say love hadn't been made. Or at least rediscovered.
"I'm sorry, Sara. My mistakes…"
Lifting her head, she finished, "Led to this moment. Don't regret this away." A second later, she reburied her face against him. "I want you to know," she said, the words muffled by his body. "The scare was real." Sara rose up again. "I would never try to trap you."
"But you did trap me." Grissom traced a finger up and down the length of her arm. "Years ago. And I hope you never set me free."
Her lips twitched into a smile. "But if I trapped you…how is it that I belong to you?"
"I never thought I'd hear you say that you belong to anyone but yourself."
"And you might never again." She rose up on her elbow and looked down at him, freshly overpowered by the sheer depth of what she felt for the man. "But right here, like this, it's okay to tell you that I'm yours. That I couldn't ever be anyone else's." Sara brushed a kiss across his mouth. "So, I'm glad you finally got your head out of your ass."
Grissom tightened his arms around her, pulling her back down against his body. "I'm glad that I wasn't too late."
"What are we going to tell everyone?" Her question was quiet and anxious, despite the warmth of the moment.
"They're investigators." He smiled wickedly. "Let them follow the clues."
Fin...to be continued...I honestly haven't decided yet.
But if this is to be the end of the ride, thank you for coming along. This has, without a doubt, been my most-read CSI fic to date, and I'm so glad that so many people have enjoyed it. And I'm beyond grateful that so many have also left their reviews.
Again, my most humble thanks. Take care until next time. 'Cause given tonight's finale, there will be a lot of next times...
Kristen Elizabeth 5-18-2006