When he had said he would like pancakes for breakfast, she surely hadn't imagined the operation would require so many efforts and turn into such a mess, nor that her favourite sleep shirt would end up covered in flour and milk.
"No, prob. You stay here, I'll be back within minutes." She had said, half an hour and a lot of burned pancake attempts ago, then she had left him with his newspaper to go and fix everything. Now, looking around the chaos reigning all over the kitchen, she realised that maybe it wasn't as easy as it seemed in movies.
She stared down at the sticky glue-like batter inside the bowl and then at the completely caked pan lying miserably on the cooker. Something – which she really couldn't individuate – had definitely gone wrong.
She pouted scornedly, gathering the little remnants of the ingredients, and decided she would start over again, one last time. She tied her hair up in a ponytail and grabbed a clean bowl, where she poured everything, reading the doses aloud in the process.
"Two cups of flour, two teaspoons of baking powder, a pinch of salt, one beaten egg, one cup and a half of milk, two tablespoons of melted butter. Add cinnamon if desired." She removed a strain of hair from her forehead with the back of her hand, trying to remember. Did Grissom like cinnamon?
She opted not to risk, and began amalgamating everything with a wooden spoon.
Hot and red in the face, she kept stirring until she obtained a vaguely even mixture, then she wiped some sweat off her temple and planted her hands on her hips, still holding the spoon, reading through the recipe for further directions.
"Once your batter is creamy and soft, cook on a hot, greased griddle."
She dropped a very discouraged glare at the pale mud-looking mush in front of her and sighed. What the hell had she done wrong, this time? Even five-year-olds could make some stupid pancakes, why couldn't she even prepare the basic batter?
"Oh, whatever." She huffed in the end, and went to the cupboard for another pan, going through a major ordeal to find the one which looked most like the one in the picture on the book.
She buttered it and put in on the cooker to heat it, then measured a quarter of cup per pancake, as indicated, and poured it. As soon as the batter came into contact with the hot surface it spluttered all around, adding some more stains to her already dirty shirt.
She jumped backward, uselessly trying to wipe it off, and cursed under her breath.
She should have worn an apron, but she had never owned one and Gil's was so large she could have comfortably fit into it twice. She took a mental note to buy one next time they'd go to the mall.
Suddenly an unpleasant burn smell came to her nostrils. She groaned in frustration, hesitantly peering into the griddle. The pancake was still uncooked on top, but rather shriveled along the border. She took a deep breath and held it as she turned it upside down with a fork. The other side was horribly blackened and dry.
"Cook each side until golden brown." She recited gloomily, and threw the carbonized pancake lamely into the trash with all the other ones, the added angrily "Why does it look so simple when Martha Stewart does it?"
She knew she must have been as dirty as the whole room was, as messy as the overcrowded counter, and all she wanted to do was clean everything and find her beloved tidy – even better, empty – kitchen under all that stuff. Since when she gave a damn about home cooking? Since when she cared about pancakes and fresh orange juices and breakfasts in bed?
Driven to exasperation, she nearly ripped the sleep shirt off herself and flung it across the room, where it landed without a sound.
Gil's sleepy voice startled her. She turned to see him gaping in daze at her half naked body – nothing new to him, even in the middle of the kitchen – and she didn't know whether to laugh or cry. The situation itself was indeed quite funny, with some milk splashed on the floor with a couple of eggshells, and the counter completely invaded by ingredients and tools of any sort. Expert and skilled as she was as a CSI, Sara had discovered herself embarassingly incompetent as to food. After all, all she usually did was to put some precooked dish into the microwave or pay for some Chinese take away.
All she could do on her own without turning something edible into a piece of junk was to peel and cut an apple.
He studied the room for a short while, scowling as he took a few steps into that mayhem.
She tried to say something, feeling her cheeks turn a bright shade of pink, but he furrowed his brows, lightly inclining his head.
"I'm not sure I want to know."
She gave him a discomforted gaze, her arms hanging loosely on her sides. Not only hadn't she been able to make him a stupid breakfast, but her attire would have perfectly suited a Play Boy centrefold. It was so humiliating.
"I don't think I can make pancakes." She said, halfway between desperate and serenely resigned.
Gil lifted a brow in her direction.
"Against any evidence…" he quipped. Sara pouted, eyes narrowed in a deadly glare. She wasn't in a joking mood, not after everything she had gone through for him.
He bent down and picked a fragment of pottery from the ground.
"How many cups did you break, exactly?" he inquired, holding it up with a small, amused grin.
"Two." She answered, adding new cups to the apron in her mental shopping list. "And a half."
"And a half?" he asked, blinking.
Sara bit her bottom lip, shrugging.
"The other half is whole."
Grissom laughed again, and her heart filled with that wonderful warmth she had started feeling not long after their relationship had begun. For several weeks she had enjoyed that new, beautiful feeling without knowing or wondering what it was. It had taken her a while to realise it was happiness.
He left the fragment in the sink, turning to her to eye her appreciatively.
"May I ask you why you are so-"
"Or overdressed." He replied mischievously, leaning back on the counter. "It depends on the point of view."
Sara placed herself next to him and crossed her arms, hinting at her shirt with her head.
"If you analyse it, I'm sure you'll be able to piece together the recipe for those damn pancakes." She replied quietly. "Your DNA is not included, by the way."
Gil's ears coloured visibly as he turned to her with his jaw dropped.
"I got it." he mumbled, and Sara wrapped her arms around his own with a little giggle, resting her head on his shoulder.
"You know, I don't think I'll ever cook again." She said with a sigh. "I am a failure in the kitchen."
He raised a hand to rub her back and leant his head on hers. Despite the confusion and the strong burn smell, the atmosphere was peaceful and intimate. Sunday mornings were Sara's favourite, even if she was the biggest cooking dork and would never be able to make a decent breakfast for her man.
"I appreciate the thought, though." He told her sweetly. "I was kind of fond of my mother's antique tea service, but…"
Sara jolted up, her cheeks burning in shame and eyes wide in shock. Had she really broken two precious cups?
"Gosh, Gil, I'm so sor-"
He closed her mouth with a finger, smiling indulgently.
"Don't worry," he said. "Material memories are valuable, but present things are what we should really treasure."
"You just burned your aphorism of the day." She remarked, pinching him on the arm. He smirked, playfully rolling his eyes.
"Alas! At least now you're not the only one who burned something…"
"Oh, very funny, Mr Grissom." She retorted, and stuck her tongue out to him. "I should have told you where to go, instead of humiliating myself this way." And she gestured toward the counter and the rest of the kitchen.
Gil arched an eyebrow, a chuckle painted on his mouth.
"Remind me about this next time you beg me to make you my special veggie lasagna."
Sara laughed and smacked a kiss on the side of his neck.
"By the way," he added. "Is there anything else you can't cook? Just so I know…"
Sara pursed her lips and put on a mock thoughtful face. Banters were one of the most enjoyable things in their relationship, especially such flirtatious ones.
"Ask me what I can cook." She said.
"Okay… What can you cook?"
"Basically nothing." She said in a practical tone, and looked at him almost challengingly, wearing a faint chuckle.
"No wonder I'm always playing Cinderella around here." He reasoned. "My lady doesn't even know what a wok is."
"Hey, I'm a socially inept who started to live her life just a couple of years ago," she replied. "I need my time to learn how to do everything the traditional way." She shifted her hands around his waist and placed herself in front of him. "Which includes cooking, doing the houseworks and loving you without having to convince you it's not wrong."
He smiled, moving his hands to her hips and pulling her closer.
"You forgot shaving beard."
"Oh, yeah." She gently stroked his jaw line in the spot where a tiny cut was barely visible. "And shaving beard." She grinned sheepishly. "Thanks for your trust… I still need some practice for that."
"You can cancel it from your schedule, I think."
Sara punched him on the chest, offended by the subtle hint in his observation.
"I told you not to move!" She defended herself. "You would have come out unharmed if you had resisted the temptation to kiss me." She puckered her lips, then continued. "Your shaving cream tastes terrible, by the way."
She thought he looked absolutely cute with that guilty look, and yet there was something extremely sensual in the way he was contemplating her. He had always had some innate charm, something that from the first moment she had set her eyes on him had fascinated her so deeply to drag her admiration firstly dangerously closely to addiction, and then, just when one step away from addiction, to love. Not just that kind of love that derived from mutual knowledge and earned familiarity, but a love that had grown from a friendship that – to quote Wilde – had always been so coloured by romance.
"You know I can resisting anything but Sara Sidle." He said, leaning forward to capture her lips into a soft kiss. "And pancakes, obviously." He kissed her again. "You know, if you could make pancakes, you would have the complete control over me. That's quite scary, actually."
This time it was Sara to steal a kiss from him.
"Well, it seems like I really have to learn to make pancakes now."
They kissed one more time, and Sara savoured the lightly rough touch of his hands on the bare skin of her back, that sent shivers of pleasure down her spine.
Their tongues had barely skimmed when his stomach started growling.
They broke apart and Sara looked down at his hungry tummy.
"Well well, apparently you have to choose between the two irresistible things in your life." She said in a sly tone. "What will you have? Sara Sidle, here and now, or pancakes, in a bar long minutes away from here?"
Gil sighed and gazed down dramatically, eliciting a grin from her. It had taken a massive event like the beginning of their life together for her – and maybe even for himself – to discover things of him she would have never even imagined. His funny, sarcastic side was one of them.
"It depends." He mused. "Do the pancakes include maple syrup?"
"Yep." She confirmed, but then smirked with a tantalizing expression. "But the Sara Sidle does, too."
"Oh, well, in this case" he leant his forehead on hers and smirked in response. "I think I'll go for the Sara Sidle."
They started kissing again, and soon Sara ended up sitting on the counter among flour, sugar and dirty bowls, replacing a couple of failed pancakes he had nonchalantly thrown on the floor.
She smiled to herself contentedly. Why did she need to learn how to make pancakes if she already knew – and so well – how to be a perfect Sara?
"Gil?" She began as his lips made his way to her collarbones.
"What's a wok?"