Title: The Invitation

Author: Tyria

Rating: T - Teen

Pairing: GSR

Disclaimer: Nope, still not mine.

Summary: A note from Grissom changes the atmosphere of the lab. Sequel to "An Ordinary Day"

Author Notes: I know I left the last fic hanging a little (believe me my beta definitely let me know). This took longer than I thought. Of course I knew if I didn't get it finished well before last weekend, there was no way I was getting to it until after the big game Saturday (WOOHOO! GO BUCKS!). Course if I let this hang any longer than I did, my beta would have killed me when I see her in Providence before I got to see Billy. Anyway, sorry about the delay.

Oh, and please give me feedback. It's what lets me know if my writing is hitting the mark or not.

oooooooooo

Dr. Gilbert Grissom

respectfully requests the pleasure of your company

for a formal affair

on Saturday, the fourteenth of August

at six o'clock

at the Bally's Hotel and Casino

3645 Las Vegas Blvd South

Las Vegas, Nevada

Please present this card to the front desk for entry.

Your admittance is guaranteed by this card and your silence…

Any violation of your silence regarding this event shall result in the revocation of your admittance into this private affair

NO EXCEPTIONS

Catherine looks over the heavy paper, taking in its style and weight, and reads the words again. "What the hell are you up to, Gil?" Without a second thought, she reaches over and picks up her cell phone, unconsciously pushing the correct buttons while still concentrating on the mysterious invitation in her hand.

"Somehow, I knew you would be the first to call." She can actually hear the laughter in Grissom's voice as he answers the phone.

"You can't keep women in the dark like this, Gil. It drives us crazy. What-"

"No questions, Catherine," he interrupts. "And remember, no sharing either. You won't want to miss this. Trust me."

"But-"

"Look, you just have to wait for the weekend. I could have sent the invitations out earlier and made you ponder this for weeks."

"You are an evil, evil man."

He laughs at that and ends the call with, "We'll see."

ooooooooooo

Curiosity regarding the event itself won out over any curiosity about who else had received an invitation, and the atmosphere at the crime lab during the graveyard shift became incredibly tense. No one wanted to make a wrong step and lose the privileges of attending the event and finding out exactly why Grissom had issued the invitation through the mail, instead of unceremoniously mentioning it during shift. Of course, who could really understand Grissom anyway?

Coffee in the break room went from being a relaxed affair with joking and laughter to a suspicious atmosphere, where they constantly watched one another. Every comment made was heavily examined and scrutinized. Small talk was out of the question, because what would they say if someone asked them what they were doing on the weekend?

There was a slip up a time or two. Mandy and Nick had been getting closer, and she bugged him about doing something that weekend. He was thinking things through out loud, so he started talking without realizing what he was saying. He mentioned something about Saturday being out of the question. When Mandy pushed him for the reason, his eyes widened in shock and he quickly made some excuse about getting together with college buddies; a guy's night out. Mandy pouted, but said she understood, so they made plans for another day.

Crime scenes were just as hard; one-on-one with usually just one other person. Solo's were a Godsend. Although it had been happening more and more often, Catherine also noticed Grissom was pairing himself almost exclusively with Sara. She would have liked to spend some time with the other woman on their team, and working with Warrick and Nick was pure torture. They had always been open and honest with her before, but with the warning hanging over the heads of everyone, conversation was stilted and forced. Greg even went so far as to start working with headphones almost glued to his ears to drown out the atmosphere of the lab.

When Saturday finally arrives, Catherine is the first one to walk into Bally's. She instantly makes a beeline for the front desk. The suspense and silence has taken its toll and she needed to get there to find out what's been going on as soon as possible, because, as everyone knows, curiosity kills the Cat.

As she is walking to the desk, she sees Gil dressed in a tux and talking to the person behind the front desk. She doesn't hear all that is said, but is able to get close enough before he finishes speaking to catch, "…room. I do not want her around the others. Everyone else gets escorted directly into the banquet hall."

"Not a problem, sir."

Catherine clears her throat causing Grissom to turn around and see the confused look on her face. His eyes widen for a second, but he quickly hides his shock beneath his cool veneer. "Catherine. I wasn't expecting you here quite so early."

"Well, you know how I am about figuring out mysteries when someone is purposely hiding the pertinent details. And that goes double when it's you."

"That I do," he says with a smirk. "But I'm afraid there isn't much time for you to grill me today. I am sorry, I would love to escort you myself, but I have other details to attend to. If you'll excuse me?" He turns to the man at the service counter. "Would you be so kind, as to have someone escort Miss Willows to the banquet hall, please?"

"Right away, Dr. Grissom."

Grissom nods at Catherine and simply walks away, leaving her more frustrated than ever. She hears a polite "Excuse me," coming from beside her, and turns to find someone waiting to take her to the room.

Finding the room empty is not a surprise for Catherine, considering Grissom hadn't expected anyone to be there yet. She sits down in one of the six chairs surrounding a circular table and takes an appraising look around. Almost more of a conference room than a banquet hall, with four tables like the one at which she is seated, along with a small rectangular table on one side of the room, and three larger rectangular tables at the other end. There were warmers set up on the larger tables. That along with the fact that Grissom asked for her to be escorted to the banquet hall, leads her to assume those tables will be holding food.

She hears the door open and watches as Warrick is escorted into the room. Seeing Catherine, he immediately walks towards her, taking in the room as he makes his way over.

Catherine wolf whistles, causing his attention to shift back to her. "Lookin' good, Brown."

"Lookin' pretty hot yourself, Cath." He takes one more sweeping look around the room before asking, "Any idea what's goin' down, yet?"

"Not a clue. I saw Grissom earlier, but he still wouldn't say a word."

A few more people are shown into the room during their conversation. Since Catherine and Warrick are already seated, the others choose different tables at which to take their seats. Before long, waiters appear with appetizers, and people start asking questions of each other. It appears no one has any clue what is going on.

"Have you noticed that the majority of the people here work graves at CSI?" Nick asks as he joins the people around Catherine's table.

"Well, who else does Gil really know," Brass responds. "Think about it. He spends all his time at the lab. Who else would he invite?"

"Sure," Warrick agrees. "Then who are the rest of these people. I swear I don't recognize anyone else."

They all look around and observe the other people in the room. David sees Doc Robbins enter, and is about to call him over, however, he is apparently not the only one with that idea, as Robbins is called over to another table by an overly cheerful voice. "Al! Over here!"

Robbins talks to the other man for a while, and then makes his way over to the table housing the people from graves.

"Who was that you were speaking to, Dr. Robbins?" David asks.

Robbins laughs. "A real character that's who. He's the retired chief coroner from LA county, Travis Baer. I'm sure Gil worked with him when he was a coroner. Always a practical joker that one."

Catherine spoke up, "What did he think of that invitation?"

"Actually," Robbins frowns, "his didn't end like ours."

"Well, isn't that just rich." Nick looks around at the rest of the group. "He doesn't trust us."

"With Cath in the group, can you really blame him?" Brass remarks with a smirk.

Catherine looks outraged, but quickly forgets Brass's comment when Greg suddenly exclaims, "Where's Sara?"

Chagrined that no one realized it before, they all scan the room for the tall brunette.

"Ok, there is definitely something fishy going on around here," Catherine muses out loud.

At about five 'til six, the door opens and everyone's attention turns as Grissom walks into the room. He is immediately bombarded by questions from the entire assembly. He holds up his hands for silence and waits patiently until everyone is quiet. "Thank you all for coming. We-…I mean, I am excited and happy that you all have chosen to be here for this occasion. Do not worry, all will be made clear very soon. There are still a few others on their way, and then we can get started. In the meantime, help yourselves to the appetizers, I highly recommend the chocolate covered grasshoppers." He winks and then makes his way over to the table his coworkers have taken over.

However, their anticipation grows when he is intercepted by a man from the hotel who quickly takes Grissom aside to discuss something of importance. He's close enough to the table that they can hear Grissom, but not the other man. "Wonderful. Can you stay with her for now, and tell her I'll be there shortly?" The other man nods and leaves the room.

He gets stopped a few times by other people, but he eventually makes his way to the table.

"Well, if it isn't the big mystery man," Brass remarks.

Grissom purses his mouth and shakes his head at him in reply.

"Alright, you got us all here. Now what?"

"Actually, Sa-I need some help. Would you please come with me, Catherine?"

In unison, they all turn and look at Catherine, her face in utter shock. "Umm, sure." She gets up and goes to follow him, not willing to miss out on what he has cooking, but then Grissom stops and turns back to the group. "Ah, I need Brass, too." Once again, the group looks at the person being addressed. Brass simply raises an eyebrow, gets up and follows the duo out of the room.

Once the three have cleared the doors of the banquet room, Catherine's curiosity compels her to ask, "So, does this mean you're finally gonna tell us what this is all about?"

"Tell? No…But I'm fairly confident that your observational skills will allow you to answer the question yourselves."

They follow him down the hall into the room next door, where he quickly enters and closes the door behind them. There are two people already in the room, along with a quietly tuning string quartet. One is the man Catherine recognizes from when he talked to Grissom earlier, and the other is an older woman, anxiously waiting in one of the rows of chairs. Grissom politely dismisses the man, and begins gesturing to the seated woman. Unable to understand what is being said, Catherine lets her gaze wander around the room. Chairs placed in rows with a center aisle, two bouquets of flowers placed at the front of the room, and the quartet sitting on a dais in the corner. What kind of party is this?

Her attention turns back to Grissom when he calls her name. "Catherine," she walks forward at his welcoming gesture, "Jim, this is my mother." He signs while talking, including everyone in the conversation. "Mom, these are my coworkers, Catherine and Jim." He tells them as an aside, "She has the ability to read lips, as well as speak, so you should be able to understand one another."

Mrs. Grissom extends her hand and Catherine instinctively places her own within its grasp. "Nice to meet you both and to put faces to names. How is your daughter, Catherine?"

This seems to be a day of surprises, Cath thinks after being caught off-guard by his mother's question. "She's doing great, thank you. Right now she's over at a friend's house."

Grissom turns his attention to Brass while the women talk. "I need you to stay here while I take Catherine and my Mother to another room. I'll be back momentarily."

Brass nods and Grissom leads the women out of the room and to another door. When he arrives at the door, he pauses, sighs and faces Catherine. "Once you pass through this door, all will become clear." He then turns towards his mother, speaking and signing at the same time. "I need you two to stay in the room and help keep the woman inside calm. She's been in here all by herself, so I am sure she's getting a little anxious."

When he walks back the way they came, Catherine calls out, "Hey!" He turns and finds her looking at him strangely. "You're not going to come in with us?"

"I can't. I'm not allowed." He turns back around and continues down the hall. After just a few steps, he hears the beginnings of a scream, but the noise is quickly muffled. He chuckles and shakes his head.

Upon entering the second room, Grissom sees Brass looking dumbfounded into his hands. He walks closer and sees that Brass is holding a velvet bag in one hand which is turned upside down over the palm of his second hand. Laying in that palm is two rings. Grissom clears his throat, and Brass slowly raises his head to look at him, still bearing a shocked look on his face. "Remember how I said I needed some help?"

oooooooooo

People are eating and making small talk while they wait for Grissom to come back: all except for the CSI's. They wonder what Grissom would need Catherine and Brass for and agonize a while longer as they wait for Grissom to come back and tell them what is going on.

Five minutes after the hour, Grissom and the man from the hotel enter the room. "Please excuse the delay, but everyone is now present, and it is time to begin. If you would please enter the next room and sit down, we will start."

While he is speaking, the barrier separating the two rooms, which was thought to be a wall, is opened and the delicate music of a string quartet can be heard. A few silent comments are made as people look around and make their way into the next room.

Brass and Catherine are standing at the front of the room and conversing with another man wearing a black suit who has his back to the room. Greg starts towards the trio. Catherine, seeing him headed their way, waves him back as she mouths that he needs to find a seat. Greg frowns in confusion, but follows her directions.

Once everyone is seated, Grissom, who was waiting behind everyone, walks up to the quartet and whispers something to one of the violinists. The piece they were playing comes to a quick resolution and they begin on another. The door in the back of the room opens allowing Mrs. Grissom to enter the room. Grissom quickly makes his way to escort his mother to her chair in the front.

Nick listens to the achingly familiar tune and looks confused until Greg leans over and says, "Cannon in D. Very popular piece that is played for many occasions especially…" He trails off and takes a look around, his eyes widening in disbelief.

"Especially what, Greg," Nick asks.

Grissom joins the group up front and Nick promptly forgets his question as the man in the black suit turns to face the crowd; his white tab-collar contrasting sharply against his very distinctive black, clerical shirt. The group turns to look over the crowd as the door in the back audibly opens again causing everyone's attention to shift to the woman entering.

Greg realizes his train of thought was correct as Sara stands at the door for a second before slowly making her way to the front of the room, and Grissom. He can't help but notice how beautiful she looks in the ivory colored dress with a halter top reaching down to the floor. Not surprisingly, the dress is almost completely unadorned, except for the small amount of lace circling the bottom. Just like Sara, Greg thinks, always ready to do the job and almost considered one of the guys, but her subtle femininity is always able to shine through by the bits she allows to show.

The crowd, realizing exactly what her appearance and presence represents, scrambles to their feet and follows her procession down the aisle.

As Sara passes, Warrick looks at the front of the room and sees something he thought he would never see. Grissom is standing at the front of the room, his eyes riveted to Sara and his love shining through for all to see in the small tears that escape. Catherine looks at Sara and is moved by the fact that once the woman stepped through the door, she hadn't taken her eyes off of Grissom; a wide and infectious grin on her face.

Sara arrives at the front, and the priest calls for everyone to be seated and begins the ceremony. It's a simple ceremony with all the essential items said. Neither of them being overly traditional, they had chosen to make their own vows. They hold onto each other's hands while speaking from the heart. Sara takes a deep breath and begins…

"Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that going to a forensics lecture would change my life. Having been told you were a boring speaker, I expected a much older gentleman and made sure I brought a case to work on to pass the time. And then you walked up to that podium…Your eyes and physical presence made it impossible to look away. But what really blew me away was the knowledge you expressed as you spoke; opening new worlds of possibility to me. I found myself taking a million notes and thinking of just as many questions. Once the lecture was over, you were patient and charming, giving me the answers I needed but still longing for more. You had my respect and admiration from the start, and that has never changed. Over the years our relationship has suffered through happiness and pain, allowing us to build and strengthen our bond. We've already made it through so much, and now, when I think of the future, I cannot imagine living the rest of my life without you in it. I love you, Gil."

Returning her soft smile, he amends his vows in his head to interconnect with hers and releases her hands to speak and sign…

"Sara, you were not the only one affected at that lecture. After that first day I was completely amazed at the insight you showed with your questions, and my mind replayed our conversation over and over. I was compelled to stay in contact with this brilliant and beautiful young criminalist. Through a cruel twist of fate, you came to Nevada and became a part of my team. At first, things were better than I could have hoped, and then life happened, painfully complicating things. But somehow, you were able to reach through all that and were infinitely patient as I struggled to figure out exactly what I wanted. It wasn't until I read this quote by Harville Hendrix that I realized what that was.

Why is it that people get married?
Because we need a witness to our lives.
There's a billion people on the planet.
What does any one life really mean?
But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything…
The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things,
All of it… all the time, every day.
You're saying 'Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it.
Your life will not go unwitnessed - because I will be your witness.'

I knew I wanted to be your witness and I needed you to be mine. Forever mine."

After they are pronounced husband and wife and kiss (with the resultant wolf whistles from the LA coroner), Gil turns to the crowd with his arm around his wife and directs everyone to the next room which is being opened again (no one noticed the partition closing earlier because their attention was focused elsewhere) for the banquet that is laid out and ready.

Gil and Sara slip out with the help of the hotel staff for a few minutes alone. Once everyone notices they are gone, they all migrate to enjoy the food causing the wonderful aromas.

Everyone is seated with food by the time Sara and Grissom enter the banquet room. Loud applause and wolf whistles coming from every corner of the room greet them as they walk to their table; Mrs. Grissom, Catherine and Brass the only other occupants. The hotel staff instantly converges on the couple to serve them their food with one waiter standing by, ready to meet any need at a moment's notice.

Once they both have taken a bite of food, the ever popular and tastelessly antagonizing tradition sounds; the ringing of crystal as silverware is tapped against it. All turn to find the LA coroner behind the act, once again. He stops for a second and says, "What? Like you all weren't dying to do that."

Suddenly the noise begins again from another part of the room. Grissom turns and gives a betrayed look to Brass. "He's right you know."

Grissom shakes his head and turns to Sara. She looks at him and shrugs, "Why not?"

They exchange a peck on the lips, and a groan is heard from the coroner. "You really think that will appease us?"

Grissom stands. "Fine. One kiss. But if I hear that noise one more time, I'll have the staff take away all of the glasses and you'll have to go the rest of the night without anything to drink."

The clatter of silverware is heard as the coroner instantly drops his fork.

Grissom turns back to Sara. "You ready to put on a show?" He sees the reluctance in her eyes. "Just one, that's all. Trust me, Travis will leave us alone the rest of the night with that threat hanging over his head." Sara smiles and begins to get up to stand next to Grissom, but he places a hand on her shoulder keeping her in place. He then leans down, closes his eyes, and kisses her passionately, causing her to bend over the back of her chair. After a few seconds, they mutually end the kiss and he straightens up raising an eyebrow in the direction of Travis.

The coroner stands and bows. "The jester has been placated." Everyone laughs and returns to their eating.

Catherine, thinking about how assignments were handed out this week, decides to confront Sara and see if her suspicions are correct. "You know, I thought it was strange how after the invitation came in the mail, you seemed to be paired with Gil almost all the time this week. Is this the reason why?"

"Yes, but it wasn't because he didn't want you bugging him." After a nudge from her husband she smiles and looks over at him. "Well, it wasn't completely because he didn't want you bugging him." She turns her attention back to Catherine. "If I had to work an entire shift with any of you, the way you all were acting, I would have lost it. It was all I could do not to smirk or laugh at you guys when we were at the lab. I waited until the door was closed behind me at home before I allowed myself to give in. It took me a solid hour of laughing every day after shift just to make up for it. It had been hard enough keeping the fact that we were in a relationship and living together from the great investigators, but keeping an engagement secret? That would have been impossible."

"So, Gil is completely to blame for all this?"

"No!" Grissom answers emphatically. "I'll take the blame for the engagement and the assignments. But the invitation and this day, those were concocted entirely by Sara."

Catherine turns in shock and outrage to Sara.

Sara smiles from the corner of her mouth. "Just because I couldn't keep the engagement from you guys didn't mean I wasn't going to have a little fun with it."

ooooooo

Beta's Note: And it's my fault it took several more days to get it uploaded. Having OCD and ADD is not a good combination.