TITLE: OF ALL THE THINGS
SPOILERS: NONE REALLY
CONTENT WARNING: GSR, BUT NOTHING ASIDE FROM THAT
DISCLAIMER: NOT MINE, NEVER HAVE BEEN, NEVER WILL BE
Grissom was sitting in his office, wading through a veritable mountain of paperwork. The only fuel he was using to keep him going was coffee. He drained his fourth one in an hour, and removed his glasses, rubbing the bridge of his nose. He was interrupted by a knock on his office door.
"Do you mind if I come in?"
Sara. Grissom slipped his glasses on and looked up at the door. "Come in," he called.
The door swung open and Sara peeked her head around it. "Hey," she smiled.
"Is it urgent? It's just, I've got to finish this paperwork done."
"I thought that you might want a hand with it. You've been running yourself into the ground lately, you need to take it easy." Sara pulled up a chair without being asked to do so, and motioned with her hands for Grissom to pass over some paper. "Jeez, you look like hell," she blurted out.
"Yeah, you're not looking too great yourself," he commented without looking up. "Are you still working that rape case?" He looked up in time to see Sara nod, and scrutinised her carefully. "Don't tell me you've pulled another triple?" He turned for a moment, and reached for a coffee pot on one of his shelves. He filled up a cup and handed it to her.
"Thanks," she said, taking a sip of the strong, black liquid. "I take it you're not going to lecture me on pulling too many overtime shifts?" she asked, looking at Grissom over the top of her cup.
"I long ago learnt that telling you what to do or how to do it wouldn't do anyone any favours. Especially on cases like this." He looked at her out of the corner of his eye. "How's it going?"
Sara took a deep breath, picked up a pen and began work on the paper mountain in front of her. "It's absolute hell," she replied. "I'm not getting anywhere, there's contradicting evidence …. for once I'm just considering holding my hands up and walking away." She looked up at Grissom to gauge his reaction.
He frowned and scratched his beard. "Well, I gotta admit that that's the first time I've ever heard any note of resignation from you about a case like this. Are you sure it's not just because you've worked a straight triple, and you're burnt out? Maybe if you took a day or two off and came back with fresh eyes, you might find something."
"If I do that, then I'm wasting valuable time. I sleep, and that's eight hours used up that could be put towards solving this case. What?" She caught Grissom smiling.
"Nothing. I just doubt that you've ever slept eight hours in a stretch in your whole life." He placed his pen on the desk and linked his hands. "Neither of us are doing ourselves much of a favour by being cooped up in here. What say we both go and get something to eat and drink, you bring your case notes with you, and I'll see what I can find."
Sara laughed sardonically. "You can't look through the notes. This is a serious solo case you've given me, I can't come running every time something's wrong."
"So, you're perfectly happy to allow me to take you out for something to eat, but you won't indulge my curious streak?" Seeing that he was failing to win her over, he changed tack. "Okay, seeing as that's not working, the only course of action left open to me is one of emotional blackmail. How about if I told you that your pride was getting in the way of a case being solved? I'm a fresh pair of eyes, so to speak, and I've had a hell of a lot of experience with cases like this, so I might spot something. Come on, it's worth a try."
Sara considered it briefly. "If you told me that, I'd be inclined to allow you to help out."
"Okay, then. We can leave this forest in here," he said, indicating the sheets of paper scattered about.
"I'll just go get my coat and my purse from the locker room, and then I'll meet you back here."
Grissom took Sara to a quiet delicatessen situated on a by-road off the Strip. There were only two or three other customers, and music was playing almost silently over the establishment's speakers.
"How often do you come here?" Sara asked, cradling a cup of refreshing herbal tea.
Grissom sat back in his chair and blinked sleepily. "Once or twice a week. It's just a nice place to come and think about things, or escape from the world, depending on how you're feeling."
"I often think that those two things are permanently incompatible," Sara commented, staring into the herb-loaded depths of the cup. "So what do you do when you're at home?"
"Try not to think about work, but then I frequently come to the realisation that it's all I have," Grissom replied, smiling sorrowfully. "So I use this place as a battleground for the more intense emotions I might experience in a case. It's either that or ride a couple of rollercoasters."
"Don't wanna take it home and poison the atmosphere?" Sara questioned rhetorically. She glanced up in time to catch Grissom's questioning expression. "Well, there's work and there's home. You gotta be objective at work, not that I ever am, and you wanna forget about things as much as possible at home, so you need to have a place you can go that acts as an intermediary."
He found himself nodding in agreement. "Well, this is where I come. Where's your intermediary location?" He tried to sound as neutral, disinterested and nonchalant as possible.
"You know, when something grabs you by the balls and squeezes, grabs your attention, you can never hide it, no matter how hard you try."
Oh shit, she's sussed me straight away. "How can you tell?"
"You get a tiny twinkle in your eye, like you do when you talk about entomology."
"You have to be the only person who ever refers to my interest by its proper, scientific name. Everyone else insists it's all about the bugs," Grissom commented. "But anyway," he pressed, "where's your place you go to experience extreme emotions?"
Sara paused for a moment. Since her run-in with Adam Trent, she had felt an element of the relationship she used to share with Grissom be restored. But she didn't know if she was ready to go shooting her mouth of to him about every little thing. "I, uh, it's kind of a private place. I went looking for a literal place in which to seek refuge, not just the bottom of a bottle. I realised that self-medication doesn't work. The only problem is, what will I replace that addiction with? Just 'cause I quit drinking, the problem's still there."
Grissom rested his chin on his steepled fingers, knowing that she wouldn't answer his question directly. "What have you done about resolving that problem?"
"I got back in touch with my mom. Oh, that's what I needed to ask you. Is it possible that I could schedule my leave for next month? I was planning to ask you about it at work, but here we are now. I was planning to go visit her for a week, talk things over with her."
"Are you sure that's something you're ready to do? Wouldn't you rather she visited you, or …. I dunno, I just feel that maybe you're rushing things a little." He dropped his hands, itching to reach over and take hers. He resisted the impulse.
"Yeah, it's something I've though about a lot. In fact, it's the only thought that keeps running through my head. But I've gotta do it."
"You don't have to do it alone," Grissom blurted out before he had a chance to consider what his offer would mean.
"I feel partly responsible for the way this has affected you. Knowing that you're planning on visiting her would also make me partly responsible if something went wrong. How would you feel if I came along with you? I mean, I need a break from Vegas, but, you know, I wanna keep an eye on you. I don't feel that this is something you should have to deal with on your own."
Sara looked up into Grissom's sincere blue eyes. "You don't have to, but I guess …. I guess it'd make me feel a lot more secure, knowing, I suppose, that there was a shoulder to fall back on. I just wouldn't want you to feel as though you were doing it because you felt an obligation to do so."
"Sara, there's plenty of obligations that I've missed out on, especially with you. This is the least I could do. Plus," he added as an afterthought, "I care about you. It would greatly hurt me to see you as upset as you were when you told me about your mom. From what you say, you don't have anyone, but I wanna be there for you. I know that when my dad died, I was alone, and I needed someone, but I didn't have anyone. So I know what it feels like."
"If that's the case, I'd want you to meet her," Sara told him. At his reluctant gesture, she leaned forward urgently. "Gil," she said, one of the rare times she used his first name, "I want to show her that not all men are dickheads or assholes, or thoroughly indecent types. Who knows? Maybe meeting you might restore some of her faith in your species."
"I doubt one encounter with me would change her perception of men. After all, look at how I've treated you."
Sara shrugged. "Yeah, but that's nothing compared to what she's gone through. Would you meet her? Please?"
"Of course I would," Grissom replied, sitting back as the waiter delivered their food.