Summary: Greg loses a bet and ends up spending an evening with a morosely drunk Sara.
Notes: This is supposed to take place near the end of season 6, so indirect spoilers for the season finale if you look at it that way. Unbetaed.
Greg made a mental note: an interesting difference between Nick and Warrick versus Catherine and Sara. When Greg was making bets with Nick and Warrick, the winner always made some cold, hard cash. Straight up, no creativity involved. But when you were betting with Catherine and Sara, you ended up betting on conditions. The loser ended up running tedious errands, taking boring cases, fending off Ecklie, or filling up the coffee pot for the next month. As it had ended up in their latest case, Greg had been wrong about which suspect's fingerprint was on the murder weapon; he owed Cath and Sara two rounds of drinks. Fortunately for his pocketbook, Catherine had to take a rain check and spend some time with Lindsay, so he would only be buying for Sara that night.
With silent mirth in her eyes, Sara told him to drive. She directed him to a dark, smoky pub that was nearly empty save for a few men sitting at the back, suits rumpled and ties loosened, staring silently into their glasses.
"This is a hot spot for bankers and day traders to hang out in. I discovered it when I was on a case with Warrick." Sara explained as they waited for the waitress to come around to their table. "It's usually packed during the day, guys shouting into their cell phones and puffing out their egos like no tomorrow. Not so much at night. It settles down, which is good. Gives me a chance to take a breather, go over the day in my head. And by this time, everyone's too wrapped up in their troubles to bother me." She smiled wryly.
"Interesting." Greg couldn't help but give her one of his patent cheeky look. "But what's more interesting is the fact that you are telling me all of this."
Sara looked mock offended. "What, I'm not allowed to bond with my coworkers? Besides..." She leaned forward suggestively. "I thought you'd be thrilled to be finally taking me out for a drink."
Greg laughed but didn't reply. There was no doubt Sara was attractive. He wouldn't deny that he had a crush on her for years now. But things had changed. She wasn't just another CSI that he saw around at the lab while he sat in a glass cubicle with DNA. She was more of a friend and partner now. Greg understood the value of persistence, but he also knew when a woman was truly shooting him down. And then there was also the matter of Sara's heart lying somewhere else completely, which was probably the basis for that misplaced suggestiveness she was pouring on.
"I'll tell you what else is interesting." Greg said, changing the topic. "You have been acting strange all week."
Sara frowned. When a young woman appeared at that moment to take their orders, Sara frowned all through the dialogue.
She stared Greg down as the waitress retreated back to the bar. "Strange?"
"Yeah." He didn't meet her eyes. He wanted to be as subtle about this as possible. "I mean, you've been all... quiet. Quieter than usual."
She narrowed her eyes suspiciously. "And that's a bad thing?"
"Just wondering if everything's okay, that's all." He looked everywhere but at her, played with his coaster on the table.
There was a hardness in her voice Greg was familiar with. "I'm fine, Greg."
He nodded. "Good. That's good. I just... you can talk to me if you ever need someone to..." He finally looked up at Sara, feeling awkward. I should have never brought this up.
She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, looking worn out under the bad lighting. "It's one of those things, when everything's the same as it's always been, but somehow different." She opened her eyes and started mindlessly drumming her fingers on the table. "Our last case is not really any different from any other case. But after a while they all start to look the same. Murder, infidelity, drug use, gang wars... same thing over and over again. The straw that breaks the camel's back is no different from any other piece of straw." She motioned to Greg with a smirk. "And that's when I need to take a coworker hostage to treat me to a break, so I can sit down and remind myself why exactly I keep doing my job."
The waitress came by and set down their orders, a dark brown beer for Sara and a light amber beer for Greg. Greg tried not to think about colours and individuality and symbolism, but it was too late and he was wondering how the work affected Sara, what was it about a particular case that inflamed or exhausted her temperamental personality.
Sara stared at her drink for a long second. "I want to make a toast." She said suddenly, lifting the glass up. Greg mirrored her action and lifted his glass as well.
"To criminals; we hate you with every fiber of our being but nothing gets us off like making you pay for your sins." There was fervour in her voice but her eyes were strangely dead.
They clinked their glasses together. "Deep, yet kind of creepy." Greg quipped, trying to lighten the mood.
Sara gulped down the beer, as if she were parched for water. "I'm feeling maudlin tonight."
"So you get off on nailing criminals?" He said, allowing himself to leer a little.
She smirked right back at him. "I'm strange like that."
"And that bit about sins; I didn't think you'd believe in religion, an empirical scientist such as yourself." He said, sipping at his drink.
Sara drained the rest of her beer and looked at him seriously. "The thing is... you can't not be religious if you believe that there's a hell for people to burn in."
"Thanks for the ride, Greg. I don't know what I'd do without you!" The compliment was loud and flippant, an obvious attempt at masking the sincerity Sara felt.
Greg smiled but kept looking straight ahead as he drove. "Call me a pessimist, but I believe you planned this from the beginning. You're the one who ordered me to drive, after all."
Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Sara fiddled around with the dials for the car radio. "How very perceptive of you! I'll have to tell Catherine to be a bit more sneakier when you take her out for drinks."
"Only I bet I'll be taking her out for a drink. Not seven."
"Hey, I would have been a fool to not make use of this oppornudity. They have some great stuff on tap there." She settled on a soft rock radio station and leaned back in her seat.
"Wait, did you just say 'oppornudity'?"
Sara looked over at Greg and wordlessly burst out into a fit of laughter.
"You are so drunk right now." Greg muttered, mostly amazed but a little uneasy as well. What does one do with a drunken, maudlin, and attractive coworker in their passenger seat?
"Oh, I like this song! It reminds me of... someone." Sara's shoulders drooped as she listened to the song.
Greg listened to the song. The Scientist by Coldplay? "Sara, why have you been so quiet all week?" Greg couldn't resist; he had to intervene. Friendly advice could go a long way.
Sara turned to face Greg slowly, and with the music playing in the background he felt like he was inside some kind of movie. "Have you noticed Grissom acting different lately?"
"I asked why you were acting differently, not Grissom."
"Well, has he been treating you differently? Being a lot more cheerful or friendly?"
Greg thought about it. "No, I haven't noticed anything."
"Exactly!" Sara exclaimed, as if that proved her point entirely. "Exactly..."
"Uh, I'm a little confused here."
Sara leaned to her side and turned to face him, her face full of hope and fear. "I don't know why, but he's been acting strange around me lately. The way he looks at me... it's different."
The light bulb went on in Greg's mind. "Sara, I don't really know what's happened between you and Grissom, or even what's going on now, but you should make a move if you think there's a chance it could work."
"I tried that once, you know. He didn't... I was..." She didn't go on, just stared straight ahead.
"People change. Maybe he wasn't ready then."
Her voice was quiet. "I told him it would be too late by the time he figured it out."
"Is it?" Greg sneaked at look at Sara from the corner of his eye.
Sara didn't reply to his question. She started humming along with the song on the radio instead, softly and seriously, as if she had finally figured out what the lyrics meant to her.