Title: No Man is a (fantasy) Island
Author: Summer Reign
Category: Romance/Humor, G/S
Disclaimer: Not mine. Yours? Didn't think so. They belong to TPTB.
Summary: Grissom thinks everything to death. No pun intended.
A/N: Thanks to T. for introducing me to the world of CSI. This is my maiden voyage on the SS Geeklove. Strap on your life preserver and join me, won't you?
"I think fantasies are best kept private," he said lazily, staring at Sara without faltering.
Shit. He needed to keep his mouth shut, he really did. Private? Why didn't he just put Sara's name on a huge neon-lit marquee as the costar of his fantasies? He stared right at her, and only her, while he said those words. Actually, he pretty much knew that was all he was doing during this last half-hour of the work day. He needed some food and sleep, and definitely needed to be away from this overload of romantic flights of fancy. To use an outdated expression, reality was where it was at.
Everyone did it—to some extent. Even Gil Grissom. Only while most people considered it a rather pleasant diversion, he thought of it more as a romp through the minefields of the mind.
Perhaps it wasn't the most romantic of thoughts but, unfortunately, it was true. He just couldn't help himself. He was a detail-oriented person (some might say anal retentive—potato, pa-tah-toe). Grissom's imagination was somewhat of a minefield. While others simply let their visions soar and take them to other dimensions, Grissom's need to envision every detail tended to trip him up and cause him grievous bodily harm. Well, harm in the way of a tension headache, anyway.
Let others have a Standard Fantasy #42 which could be triggered by a simple word like, say, "leather." More power to them. Grissom needed more. Oh, if he had a fantasy involving leather, he probably wouldn't have to go as far back as the cow. But he certainly needed to know what was leather, who was in said leather, and his role in the life of the leathered being(s). Of course, some knowledge of the tanning process might be helpful in knowing the texture of the imaginary leather because that could add more to the sensory dimension of the fantas…okay. Maybe he did need to go as far back as the cow. So what?
He frowned slightly. There was now a potential glitch to his fantasy Number 11: Sara in Pearls. It was caused by Nick's introduction of a damned diamond tennis bracelet to the breakroom. His insides constricted a little over the thought of the victim—but he didn't know if it was sorrow over the young man never having had the opportunity to share his extravagant gift with his lady-love or envy at the youthful impetuousness that prompted the purchase in the first place. Oh, who was he kidding? Shave thirty years off his age and Grissom still wouldn't sink a chunk of his life-savings (or even the spoils from a lucky turn at the casinos) just to turn the head of a girl he'd met the night before.
But for a woman he'd known for years? A woman he'd loved for years? That was a different story. And perhaps she would prefer diamonds to pearls. Everyone in the room seemed impressed. But was Sara? He needed to know her reaction before changing what he had considered his easiest-ever fantasy, thereby prompting changes in all the other details he so carefully mapped out. He needed to know how she felt about the white ice.
He looked at her in as nonchalant a way as he knew how to look at anyone and quickly took inventory. No dilated pupils at the sight of the glittery jewels, no look of extreme envy over the price of said bling (if that term was still in use. He'd have to check with Catherine later), and no external signs of increased salivation. Instead, she was looking at it as she would any other evidence: as just another piece in a puzzle that would bring closure to their case.
Good. He dodged that fantasy bullet. Full speed ahead on the near-perfect pearl scenario.
Besides, he thought pearls suited her better anyway.
From the moment he witnessed Caprice putting the pearls on the lovely geisha-in-training in his fantasy staging area, he knew he'd like to get Sara a necklace like that. Maybe he instantly thought of Sara because the lady was wearing the kimono-type of robe Sara seemed to favor. He frowned again. But, did she? Had she ever worn one before, when she was alone? Or were they for his benefit? Was it wrong of him to expect her in the silken fabrics when she might prefer something comfortable like (he nearly shuddered at the thought) plaid flannel? He shook his head slightly. Details. The devil WAS in the details. And he needed to leave—now.
Where was he? Okay. Assuming that silk was her preferred form of bed-wear, she'd be wearing the dark blue robe with the gold trim. The room would be lit only by candles. Two. Tapered. Sitting on Sara's nightstand. After telling her he had a surprise for her, he'd put one hand over her eyes and lead her to the bed. She'd nervously perch on the edge of the mattress while he scooted back to retrieve the strand he hid under the pillow. He'd push one side of the robe down a bit and reach in front of her to place the pearls against her skin. Wait, he'd need two hands for that and one was already covering her eyes. Was she the kind of person who would peek if he told her not to? Did she really need to have her eyes closed at this point? Damn.
Saved by the staff. Or, maybe not. They were all leaving.
And then they were gone. Nick, Catherine, Greg. That left just the two of them.
And then he got up, said he'd see her later, and left the room.
Sara bit back the "what now?" thought that sprang to mind when she left work a few minutes later.
The trouble with their relationship as it stood now was the same one that had plagued their relationship from the beginning. Gil Grissom was totally unreadable. She didn't know how he'd react, didn't know what he would say (or not say) and didn't know what action she should take after he reacted in whatever way he did that drove her to distraction. She wasn't even sure inaction really bothered him much. But it bothered her. So, she went to find him, having no idea where he went, why, or what she could do to make things better. If they needed to be made better, that is. Perhaps he was just after some prehistoric roach that was supposed to be displayed . . . somewhere.
He had left the building. That much she ascertained after a few subtle questions to various and sundry coworkers.
Maybe she'd just go home and he'd be there—or not, she discovered, seeing him sitting on the hood of his SUV. The man seemed to be . . .sunbathing. In the parking lot. There went the roach theory.
"I thought you were making a conscious effort to stay out of the sun whenever possible," she said as she approached him.
"I'm wearing sunscreen."
Ah, well, that answered all her questions.
"There's a rumor that sitting by a pool is a more pleasant way of catching some rays."
He opened his eyes and looked at her. His frown was brief but notable. Mustn't . . . smother . . . the former recluse.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt . . .whatever you're doing. I'll see you later." She said lightly, going toward her own car.
"Stay. You're not interrupting. I just needed to think for a moment."
She turned back and stood in front of him. He was leaning with his back against his windshield, the sun on his face, his eyes closed.
"How do you fantasize, Sara?" He asked, finally.
"I don't," she said quickly. She was even surprised by her answer.
He opened his eyes and gave her a skeptical look. "Everyone fantasizes," he said.
"Well, you have found your exception to the rule, then."
He made no attempt to hide his frown. "You never, in your entire life, entertained a fantasy?"
"All right," she said, sighing, "I have. In the past. Probably when I was a child. And, to some extent, I may have engaged in some conjecture on the nature of our relationship and where it might lead when I first knew you. And if that involved some improbable scenarios that you want to call 'fantasy,' then—yes, I guess I have. But you asked how I do it now and I don't."
Fantasy. Who needed it? Her childhood was spent dreaming of a Brady Bunch existence while she was living something closer to Blood Bath Bazaar and, even with Grissom-- it just didn't work. Thinking of the "olden days" caused her to feel a small pain in the pit of her stomach.
Her early Grissom fantasies were nothing huge or momentous. She hadn't been aiming for a huge wedding and subsequent early retirement to a love shack in Tahiti. No, after a rather promising start with the handsome professor (he had been the one to invite her to Vegas to work in his lab. Somewhat out of the blue. And there had been a mutual exchange of flirting. There had been reason for hope, damnit), she started having small dreams. Small enough to gamble and try to take action, using those fantasy scenarios as her guide. So, she started dreaming of being his sounding board during a tough case—perhaps taking him for a walk when a case would seem overwhelming. Letting him talk it out. She offered; he turned her down flat.
Then there was the truly daring one. Just briefly touching his face. She had wanted to do that from the moment she met him. So she did. And he looked at her as if she was some sort of psychotic pervert escaped from an asylum.
And what about the one where they actually … went out to dinner? To get to know each other on a more personal level. Perhaps involving a brief touch of hands across the table. Fueling the desire for slowly, slowly giving and receiving more. She knew it would all be slow. And that was fine with her.
She didn't know it would be stopped dead before it started.
And that's when she knew it was too damned painful to fantasize and made a conscious effort to stop every "what if" scenario that popped into her head.
But that was then and now—well, now she had more than she ever dreamed of, so fantasizing about anything was rather pointless.
But he was unpredictable. The look he gave her over her non-fantasy revelation was almost as pained as the one he gave her when she told him about her parents.
"Grissom? What's wrong?"
"I knew it," he said, sadly.
"I knew you weren't fantasizing."
"And that pains you in some way? It's okay that you do it. It's great, as a matter of fact."
"Your fantasies?" There had been rumors about Grissom and that dominatrix but …
"No, not my fantasies. Your lack of a fantasy life. It gives me pause."
She sighed again. It was just one of those days. Grissom was not only speaking in cryptic half-thoughts but he was being archaic about it as well. Didn't he just know how to blurt things out?
"Grissom." That was supposed to be a fully-formed thought but she was hungry and tired and it came out more whiny than it had in her head.
He slid down the front of the vehicle and went around to the passenger's side. He opened the door.
"I have my car."
"I know. We'll get it later. Get in. Please."
She got in. They drove in silence for a while until they reached a small strip mall and parked in yet another scenic parking lot. Sara briefly entertained the thought that perhaps today was the day Grissom finally snapped.
They got out of the SUV and Grissom leaned against the passenger's door, while Sara stood a few feet away from him. He took in a quick breath of early morning air before completely focusing on her. She had a confused, adorable look on her face. Expecting anything. Fantasizing, apparently, nothing at all.
"We needed more privacy," he said, with a small smirk. "I think I owe you an apology."
"What did you do?"
"I . . . underestimated you."
"Yes, even today. Didn't you notice?"
Of course she didn't. Why would she? She never had any indication of all the thoughts and scenarios going through his mind all these years. Perhaps it was time for a little enlightenment.
"You have no idea what it's like to be a middle-aged man," he said flatly.
"You're probably right about that."
"Well, let me tell you the most important characteristic. You settle into a certain way of life, a certain way of thinking. And you don't exactly welcome change. Change really throws off everything."
"And that's what middle-age is all about, Charlie Brown?" she asked with a decided twinkle in her eye.
"No," he gave her that half-patient, half-scolding look he promised he wouldn't give her anymore but still managed to do on an almost daily basis. "Actually, I probably have done this since I was 30 but didn't realize I was doing it until I hit middle-age."
"I see." No, she didn't. She never took any of his discussions on their age difference seriously. She just didn't consider it a factor. "So, you had previously ruled out romance?"
"No. I wouldn't say that. On occasion, I welcomed the advances of a certain type of woman. On rarer occasions, I was the one making the advances. And that was acceptable because the woman wasn't expecting much more than I could deliver, because she was coming in with her own baggage and didn't expect me to take it up any more than she wanted to take up mine."
"Baggage. Check," she said, with another small smile.
Damn. He was a bad influence. He gave her a gentle eye roll and continued. "It's not that a student at one of my seminars never showed interest before you. But one has certain preconceived notions about that as well. Usually involving grade point averages. You were different and I felt a strong connection, but I still thought you were somewhat delusional at the time. Seeing me in some idealized teacher role or . . ."
"Please don't say father figure."
"I'm not that old, Sara. And there is nothing paternal in the way I felt about you or childlike about the way you looked at me. My point is—I thought you had to be making me into something more than I was. More than I am. But you're not. I saw that in you today. I never thought I could possibly be what you're looking for."
"But you are. You are my fantasy, Grissom."
He winced. "I wasn't going to spell it out but, yes. I realized that. And it's overwhelming."
"Because it means I'm enough for you. As I am."
"I've never had anyone look at me in quite that way before," he said, looking up at the sun again. This was why older men shouldn't have younger woman who loved them, accepted them completely, and told them the absolute truth about their feelings in such a simple, direct way. There was something intensely frightening about it. They had this uncanny knack of getting under the old coot's skin and making them feel as if they were going to lose control of their emotions and start tearing up like a two-year old.
Enough of this emotional crap. "You've killed my fantasy, Sara."
She frowned and touched his arm. "No, Grissom. You can fantasize and share your fantasies with me. That's fine. I'm willing to do almost . . . " a look of panic crossed her face and she swallowed hard. "…A lot."
He laughed. He knew she had heard about Lady Heather.
"Sara. I spent the last day or so thinking about a strand of pearls. How beautiful they'd look against your skin. How I'd slide your robe aside and kiss your neck in just the right spot. And … well, really, that's as far as I got, but then Nick had to bring in that damned tennis bracelet and I was starting to think maybe that should be something I should get you but I still thought the pearls would be right . . ."
"I don't need any of those things. I don't want them."
"I know that. Thus, fantasy Number 11 is dead."
"I'm sorry," she said, mock-mournfully. Then, as an afterthought, "11?"
He smiled. "It's all right. Fantasizing gives me a headache anyway. I think I'll stop at 10."
She stepped forward and slid her hands onto his waist and squeezed a bit. "Are you over your need for quiet contemplation?"
"Yes," he said.
"And are you less overwhelmed?"
"I'm getting used to it," he said softly, taking her hands from his waist and holding them in his for a moment.
"Then, can we go home now?" she asked. "Please? We can pick up some take-out on the way and just crawl into bed and talk about fantasies 1-10. Okay?"
He looked at her. She was wearing the same soft smile she had on her face in the breakroom.
Grissom had been wrong. Diamonds were nothing. Pearls were highly overrated. He made some very strong choices about the way he lived his life—a very long time ago. And he stuck to them, thinking they ruled him out as someone who would be good for Sara. But he was the cause of that smile and it was all the adornment she needed.
She was happy.
Screw the details. The bottom line was, she had her man and he very definitely had her.
He was wrong about something else. Reality—when it incorporated that which was once fantasy—was definitely where it was at.