TITLE: A LITTLE CHAT
SUMMARY: GRISSOM FINDS SARA IN THE BREAKROOM - THIS IS SET BEFORE THE SEASON FINALE.
DISCLAIMER: WOULD I BE WRITING IF I OWNED IT?
Grissom was ambling past the breakroom, bow-legged and aimless, searching for a distraction. Turning his head to look through the glass walls, he saw Sara slumped over, head resting on the table top. There were a few books and sheets of paper scattered about, three coffee cups sitting statically.
He took a seat opposite her and leaned back. "Sara?" No response. "Sara? Are you awake?" A little louder. He couldn't recall off the top of his head what case she was working at present - but for her to be sleeping here, it would probably either be a rape or child abuse case. Sara Sidle and the infamous three-shift-stint. He knew many of the day-shift mocked such an intense attitude to work, and was also aware that much of the said contempt was aimed in his direction - Look, Gil Grissom has no control over his CSIs, he lets them max out on overtime without even turning a hair, they can get away with intimidating suspects and blowing up DNA labs and getting DUIs. But such criticism and scorn did not bother him - he was more concerned for his colleagues, and, at this moment, more concerned about Sara.
The head on the desk stirred slightly, and for a fleeting moment, he was reminded of Sleepy Hollow. The head rotated somewhat, the brunette locks ruffling with the movement, the bright, artificial breakroom lights creating some sort of abstract halo above her head. She grunted and looked up fully, blinking, first in incomprehension, then in horror. Oh God, he's caught me slacking, oh God, he's seen me asleep and I look like a mess She fought to keep her voice level. "Hey," came her sleep-fogged croak. "How long was I asleep?" She ran a hand through her errant hair, hoping she hadn't adopted the appearance of someone who had been mauled by a grizzly.
Grissom shrugged lazily. "I don't know. I only saw you here just now. How long do you think you've been asleep?" There was no hiding the hint of amusement from his face, although he was simultaneously not amused. "How are you?" he inquired gently, clasping his hands in his lap.
Under his intense gaze, Sara squirmed. She could handle those eyes when they were flirting, and enjoyed holding his stare when they were both being intense - but this ... this scrutiny was unnerving. "I'm not sure," she admitted uneasily. Her brown eyes were still glazed with sleep, and she had the air of a small, furry animal that was acutely aware that there were things lurking that held no aversion to eating small, furry animals. She hoped Grissom did not share a taste for said fluffy animals. "I was checking through the DMV records, seeing if I could get a hit on the car we found."
Grissom frowned, unwilling to delve into the sordid world of cases whilst on a break. "I thought Hodges already gave you the specifics."
Sara nodded. "He did. What I meant was, I was trawling through DMV looking for any possible suspects." She took a deep breath and closed her eyes.
Grissom's frown deepened, and his hand reached up to touch his beard self-consciously. "What did you find?" he probed.
Sara smiled caustically. "A lot. A lot," she repeated, emphasising her point. "Two hundred of those cars sold in Vegas alone; thirty of those car owners have domestic abuse priors, ten are paedophiles, and twenty are all-round bad eggs."
Grissom pursed his lips. "So you're still working the Esperantez case?" The case in question was concerning Helena Esperantez, a Mexican-American, twenty-eight years old, four months pregnant, found dead in her home. There was no brother, no sister, no lover to be found - no relatives that could be of any help in the investigation. Post-mortem revealed evidence of prior facial injuries, some fractures being very old. The break in the mandibule was fresh, and the one to the left cheekbone was post-mortem. The SAR showed that Ms Esperantez had been sexually assaulted before she was killed (blunt-force trauma to the occipital bone, severing the spinal cord), and there was the possibility that the team was searching for a necrophilac.
Sara didn't answer straight away - every time she heard that name, and all the things with which she associated it, she had to take a moment to mentally compose herself. She opened her mouth to reply after several seconds, finding that no words were projected into the air. So she simply nodded.
"I take it you pulled another triple," Grissom stated rhetorically, standing and approaching the percolator. "Coffee?" he asked in his soothing murmur. He turned to see Sara give a nod of affirmation. "Is that 'Yes, I have pulled a triple,' or 'Yes, I would like a coffee'?"
Sara gave out a small chuckle. "Both."
Grissom sighed in admonishment. "You need to take more care of yourself," he scolded lightly. Is she working hard to forget? To remember? To punish? He brought the coffee over to the table and set about clearing the old mugs.
"I never had you down as domestic," Sara joked, watching his ministrations with interest. "Thank you," she added, accepting the scalding cup.
"There's many things you don't know about me," he informed her, his voice taking on a throaty, almost sensual, quality. "So. How are you?" He resumed his seat facing her, this time leaning forward intently.
Sara knew there was no point in lying. It wouldn't help her, it wouldn't help him, and if he was really that bothered, he might be able to soothe her, might be able to put her at ease. "I've ... been ... better," she replied slowly, considering each word before they passed through her lips. Catching Grissom's eye, she was encouraged to continue. "That's why I've been throwing myself into my work," she explained.
"I had noticed you'd been a little ... zealous, lately?" The inflection in his voice magnified his uncertainty, turned the statement into a question. "What seems to be the problem?"
"I've just been thinking about ... things a lot recently." She volunteered no more information, and instead focused her attention on the uninteresting contents of her coffee cup.
"You can't put your mother's ghost to rest by running yourself into the ground," Grissom told her. His sapphire orbs glinted tenderly. "Sara, you have to find peace. You have to move on," he insisted, rather urgently.
"Because you can't go on living in the shadow of your past. It will end up killing you." His whole face had been infected with the urgency manifested in his words.
"What makes you think it's an issue regarding my mom?" Her question was succinct, knocking a hole in Gil's gut.
"I automatically assumed ... that's all you've told me. Then again, loss of a father figure can certainly fuck you up," he conceded.
Sara smirked humourlessly. "Oh, and I suppose you'd know," she spat.
"Yeah, I would," he answered simply. "When you lose a parent, especially at a young age, it's a lot of responsibility to take on. You automatically assume the position, so to speak. You try your best to take the place of the missing figure, and in doing so, you grow up very quickly. How old were you when your mother killed your father? Twelve?"
Oh, there was no sugar-coating her family situation with him, was there? Actually, it was probably better he appraoched things in such a direct manner and expressed them for what they were. "Yeah," she croaked hoarsely. Intuitively, she knew. "How old were you?"
Grissom smiled sadly. "Nine. And then my mother started losing her hearing."
"God, I'm sorry. I ... I had no idea, she gushed.
Grissom's shoulders hunched. "Not many people do," he said honestly. "And no, I don't think I coped very well," he added.
"Uh huh. My neuroses, my psychoses - all the issues I have pretty much span back to the loss of my father and the isolation I felt as a pre-adolescent."
"Now who's rationalising?"
Still that melancholic smile. "I know. But it's the only way I can cope. If I remove all the emotion from something, it's not threatening. If I could cope with my father's death without shedding a tear, I can get through the toughest child abuse case without getting ruffled feathers. It's a pre-determined pattern," he explained.
"But you just said you didn't cope." Sara sighed in exasperation. He could be so annoyingly oblique sometimes.
"I know," he replied calmly, aware of how confounded she was. "I thought I coped at the time. So I think I can cope now. But I can't. Not really. Why do you think I ride rollecoasters? Why do you think I have such a control fetish? I need to purge my aggression in solitary pursuits, where no-one can get hurt." His voice said it all - this is the truth, and I'm not lying.
Sara scoffed in disbelief. "You? Violent? No way."
Grissom nodded. "I almost got kicked out of college for beating up a frat boy who was hitting on a girl who'd been purposefully oblivious to his intentions. I assaulted a boyfriend of my mother when he used to verbally insult her. She was with him for five years, pretty soon after my fater died. This boyfriend would constantly berate her behind her back, but it wouldn't matter because she couldn't hear." His chest swelled with long-repressed memories. Of all the people he had anticipated telling about his sordid past, the woman in front of him wouldn't have been his first choice. He certainly didn't want to create the impression that he was a hot-headed thug. "One day, after so many years of pushing down the burning feeling every time he insulted my mom, I lashed out."
"What did you do?" Sara asked in wonder. She was totally caught up in this tale of an emotional, fiery teen.
"I broke his nose and his cheekbone. No charges were pressed, but I had to undergo anger management therapy. And that's why I'm so ... unemotional. Unfeeling. I'm just scared that if I relaxed my inhibitions now, there'd be no going back."
Sara smiled in an attempt to comfort him. "Having to tell me about that intimidated you, didn't it?"
Grissom's jaw clenched, and he felt as though he were under interrogation. Any moment now, the Monty Python crew would burst through door, donned in full 'Spanish Inquisition' outfits yelling out about weapons and fanatical devotion to the Pope. "Yes," he muttered, his throat tight.
"Is your repressed anger the reason why you're a lapsed Catholic?"
Grissom was alarmed by the quick change in subject. Or was he? "Huh? God, no. I always valued the tradition, a sense of belonging, that I wasn't the only person being judged. But I've seen enough things in my time to realise that God doesn't exist."
"That's a pretty definite assumption to make, isn't it?"
Grissom was not humoured by this. "I tell you, after seeing the things religion has made people do - some of things people with religious conviction do, and they're supposed to believe in God? No way." He considered things for a moment. "Are you religious?"
Sara shrugged. "I'd like to think I'm a Buddhist. But to honest, I'm not sure. I guess I follow the evidence. That's my faith. That I can do something to restore a bit of justice to the world with every scene that I process, whether it have a lasting impact, or is imbalanced by another act ten hours later."
Grissom was knocked speechless by the profundity of her words. "I suppose you have a point. I've never looked at it that way."
Sara smiled knowingly. "I bet you have. I think you're only saying that so you don't come across as unoriginal." At his look, she flashed him a gap-toothed grin. "What?"
"If only you were older. I'd date you in a second," he said suddenly.
Sara stared at him, again, in disbelief. "Um, okay. But I have to tell you, if I was fifty, I probably wouldn't be as flexible as I am now," she said with a smirk.
The left-hand corner of Grissom's mouth turned up. "Oh, I don't know. I may not look it, but I retained some of the athletic agility of my youth."
Sara stood up. "Maybe you'll have to show me sometime," she whispered, gliding past him, their clothes touching and whispering secrets. "I have to go see what DNA and Trace turned up. Catch you later," she murmured, breezing out of the room.
Grissom stared at the table. They had been so busy chatting that they'd forgotten to drink their coffee. It would be stone cold now. It would have to work in the place of a cold shower, Grissom decided.