TTitle: Sabbatical

Author: fanofkdc

Rating: K+

Summary: Based on vague speculation that Grissom's going to be taking an 'emotion-based' break some time during sweeps. Oh, what cynical Powers That Be we have.

Author's Note: This idea just really popped up from nowhere (is the Booking thread on YTDAW classed as nowhere?) - so please, before you come 'round to my house brandishing flaming torches, bear in mind that this is a vague spoiler for season seven, and that the sabbatical may never actually happen. It was, after all, stated by TV Guide, and we all know how much they like to exaggerate.

Sara wasn't going to like this. Not one bit. Then again, who ever said the course of true love ran smooth? Well, whoever it was that said it didn't certainly needed to be strung up for inventing such a cliché.

Grissom sat in an empty bar, nursing a scotch on the rocks, as he contemplated the type of conversation he might be having when he got home. If he were lucky, it would be just a conversation - and maybe some make-up sex would be thrown in for good measure. If he were any less lucky (which he thought he might be), then there would probably be tears and shouting and slammed doors. And he desperately did not desire the latter scenario.

For the past three or four months, since the start of their proper relationship, things had been fine. Much better than fine, in fact. He and Sara had settled into a comfortable pace, living alongside each other in relative peace and harmony. Yes, Sara might become exasperated the fiftieth time she had to tell Gil that he should store his meat on the bottom shelf of the fridge, and he would occassionally dislike the fact that she wanted to feed him some sort of undigestable rodent food, but it was nothing they couldn't work over. The worst blow out had been after a dirty, grimy, hard, tiring case, and he had, unthinking, bagged the shower as soon as they had gotten home. Sara had not liked that, but it was easily resolved, once again proving the point that they should perhaps argue more often - it increased the chances of make-up sex.

But tonight would be different. Probably. Grissom swallowed, gulping down the scotch in one, then placing the empty tumbler down hard on the bar counter, swinging his legs over the edge of his stool and trudging to his car, sitting alone in the parking lot.

"You took your time getting back," Sara remarked when Grissom finally pushed open their apartment door. She was standing in the kitchen, doing the washing up from her dinner. "I cooked for us, but I got hungry, so I'm afraid I had to eat mine. Yours is in the over, staying warm." All of this was stated with her back to him.

As was custom, Gil stepped up behind her and slipped his arms around her waist, nuzzling her neck. "Sorry I didn't call or anything."

Sara sniffed, catching a whiff of smoke and alcohol, and she turned around in his grasp. "Where have you been?" she asked, her eyes narrowing and her brain racing uncomfortably.

"I went for a drink after work," he replied. "On my own," he clarified.

"Oh." She wriggled out off his arms and proceeded to put away the few dishes she had washed. "I was kinda worried there for a second," she said, voice betraying a hint of something - angst? Upset? Anger? Insecurity?

"Sara? Can we sit down for a minute? I have something I need to run by you." He leaned back on his heels and folded his arms across his chest, frowning.

She raised an eyebrow, and approached the couch tentatively. "Okay, now you are scaring me," she informed him, a tremor barely audible in her tone. "What's going on, Gil?"

One million thoughts were accumulating in her head - was he unhappy with their relationship? Had she done something to upset him? Had someone found out about them? Was he having regrets, or second thoughts, or an affair? But such a thing - it was impossible to believe. In her mind, things had been working so well between them, hardly any arguments, and life was easier than she might have ever dared hope. She finally had everything she wanted, and she was happy, and just getting used to being happy. Why would he take that away from her now?

Grissom reached over and took her hand. "I've been thinking for some time now that I want to take a sabbatical. Clear my head, refresh my priorities. I've been meaning to do this for a year or two, but what with everything that's happened in the past couple of years, what with Nick and us and Brass ... I've either been too busy, or had something else added to the equation."

Sara pursed her lips. "So ... you're saying ... actually, I'm not sure what you're saying."

"I need a break from Vegas. I need to go off somewhere and think objectively about the next step in my life, what I'm going to do when I leave the lab. How I want to leave the lab. The next logical step in our relationship, you know, where we're headed, what I want from this." He squeezed her hand, but sensed that, contrary to his desires for how this conversation would pan out, it wouldn't do him any favours.

"You're just going to up sticks and leave the lab. We're going to have to take on your workload, and the team's only just used to being back together? What about us? How long have we waited for this? Technically, we're still in the honeymoon period, and frankly, I'm not sure that going on hiatus now is going to do us any favours, Gil!" Yes, she knew she was being selfish, but so was Gil.

This was going worse than he had expected, and he tried in vain to diffuse the situation. "Honey, I'm doing this for us! I'm trying to sort out all my baggage, all my inhibitions, all the shit I'm carrying around with me. I'm doing this so I don't become bitter and begrudge you a damn thing," he spat. "I need to look at my career options, too. I'm close to retiring, and in any case, once the powers that be are made aware of our situation, there's a good chance I'll have to leave."

"What inhibitions, Gil? I think you cast off all your inhibitions when you started screwing your subordinates in your office!" Ouch. "Is this me? Are you having second thoughts? Because I can walk away now. Right this very second. It would hurt, by God, it would hurt, but I'm stronger now. I could still do it."

"I don't want you to do it," he growled. "I just want you to understand that I need this time. One month. One month for me to go somewhere and think things over. I'm not suggesting we go on hiatus. We'd still be together. Things would just be ... easier ... when I got back. I could get a new job, we'd be able to wake up together in the morning, we'd be able to do more things together. I'm sick of having to hide us away, sick of having to be cautious. But I need the chance to think over how I would not be so cautious. Please."

Sara forced a sigh, then nodded. "Okay. But for the record, I'm not happy about it."

"Neither am I, Sara, neither am I."

And he could tell two days later that she was still not happy with him. That first night, she had feigned sleep when he had tried to kiss her goodnight, and last night, she had rolled away from him when he touched her. It wasn't just not being able to make love to her. He had grown so used to having her in his arms, being able to touch and kiss her when he pleased, that this sudden withdrawl of affection had sent him into cold turkey. He didn't try to play hard to get. In a way, he understood the motivations behind her actions - here he was, just casually announcing that he would up and off for a month, without her, and get his life in order. To her, the person who had grown so independent, who had been abandoned long ago, and had her trust abused countless times (not least by him) - for her to have let her walls down enough to trust him again - it must have been a heavy blow for her to bear.

He sought her out in the middle of shift when he knew she would be dusting for prints. "Hey," he breathed, leaning against the door, not feeling as though he had the right to invade her personal space too much.

"Hey," came the dull reply.

"Sara, I ...".

"Save it for later," she interrupted. "This doesn't need to be said at work."

"No. It's important. I heard from a friend of mine at UNLV. Due to these damn forensics programmes shooting up everywhere, there's a bigger calling for forensic entomologists. This friend was wondering if I'd be interested in teaching."

Sara turned slowly, not daring to believe her ears. "What did you say?"

"I said I'd have to talk it over with my partner and my boss," he replied honestly. "What do you think?"

"It's up to you, Gil," she told him. "I know you enjoy teaching, but would you feel as though you were making a big enough difference in the world?" she joshed lightly.

"I'm passing my knowledge on to others. I'll be educating them, and some of them will hopefully go on to similar fields as this job, so I can safely say I'd be making some kind of difference. If you want, I can speak to Ecklie and Cavallo tonight, and hand in my resignation."

Sara regarded his words. "How do you feel about doing that? Are you ready for that?"

"Yes. I'm willing to confess to them that we're in an ongoing relationship, but I'm not sure what repercussions that would have with you," he said. "I don't want to put you in a compromising position," he added.

"That's a first," she grinned slyly.

"You gonna ... come with me and get this sorted out then?"

It was as easy as that. No repercussions for Sara, no problems for Gil handing in his resignation. The lab would still use him for consultations and special cases, but he would effectively be free-lance. He wouldn't start at UNLV until a week after Thanksgiving, which still left him for six weeks without a thing to do.

"I was thinking ...," he started, as he and Sara lay in bed that morning after shift.

"Hmmm?" she croaked, waiting for sleep to overtake her.

"I need to do something."

"Already? You don't finish until the end of next week," she chided.

"I was still thinking of going away."

"Gil," she began to warn him, but he rolled on top of her and clamped a hand over her mouth.

"Nope. I'm not having you walk away or interrupt." He raised an eyebrow in question, and waited for her to submit. "Right. Thank you. I was planning on going a break to the rainforest for two weeks to help an entomologist friend with a conservation project. Since you have about ten weeks' holiday on the books, I thought that maybe you might like to join me. Is that acceptable to you?"

She grinned beneath his heavy hand, and, with some difficulty, nodded. "What are we going to call it?"

He frowned in thought for a moment. "It's still a sabbatical. But for you," he said.

"I can live with that."

The End.