Homing Instinct

Author: wobbear
Rating: K+
Disclaimer: I own neither CSI nor the characters, and make no money from my fics (please contain your gasps of surprise).
Spoiler info: Set during season 7; spoiler free
Author's note: Thank you to PhDelicious for beta reading. She found the end that I was grasping for.
Summary: Moving is always stressful. GSR


She had given up.

Packing cartons were strewn around with lumpy paper-wrapped shapes peeking out through the flaps, books teetered in unshelved stacks, and artwork leaned against the wall. The big window was naked, no blinds or drapes to soften the stark lines of the frame. Beneath it lay two long cylinders of rolled-up carpets. In the corner sat vases, carved figurines, motley knick-knacks gathered over the years, now forlorn and displaced as they waited to be dealt with.

Sara was curled up with a book in her armchair, her island of comfort amidst the chaos of moving. There was still a lot to do, but she was weary of doing it alone. She needed a break. What she really wanted was to take a shower, but her towels were packed. At the back of her mind she was working on remembering where she'd put them.

Meanwhile a large tumbler of water was chasing away the scratchiness in her throat and mouth, and she had resolved to dust the bookcases more frequently from now on. Sara was allowing herself a few minutes of escape, dipping into Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter – an old favorite, which never failed to amuse and distract her.

It was so quiet.

She missed the steady ticking of her old wood-cased clock, a treasured find at the Revere Flea Market all those years ago in Boston. The clock too was somewhere in a packing carton, safely wrapped in her Scottish mohair throw.

Sara's thoughts drifted further back. That throw was one of the few things she'd taken with her into foster care. Somehow it had survived those testing years; the unusual prickly texture meant it hadn't been a target of the other kids' light fingers. The throw was faded and raggedy now, but she remembered how bright and new it had been when Grandpa William brought it back for her, a souvenir of his one and only trip to the land of his fathers.

She sighed gently and bit her lip. Her maternal grandfather had been a lovely man, but he had died not long after her tenth birthday. From then on things had changed for the worse at home.

Home. She'd never had a real home, not that she could remember.

She'd moved several times with her parents, as her father vainly tried to find a job he could stick at. Then as a foster child she'd learned to expect sporadic shifts. Trying to settle in, to fit in was a waste of effort. Forming attachments that would likely soon be torn apart was too emotionally wearing. Early on she had chosen to just keep her head down and concentrate on schoolwork.

Once she was old enough, she had eagerly seized the chance to decide for herself where she lived. Moving out of the Harvard dorm into a house with three others – and the rapid realization that she preferred life without roommates – then into a studio, later the tiny one-bedroom apartment she'd worked hard to afford while at Berkeley. All were decisions she'd made for herself, on her own, carefully considered, options weighed, pros and cons thoroughly examined.

But they were all just places to live, not homes.

She'd long been yearning for a home.

Then, very early one morning back in October 2000, had come that phone call; Gil Grissom, sounding tired and tense, asking if she could do him a big favor.

One 48-second call - and just like that, her life had changed.

No pause for thought, no time for consideration. A mad scramble through begging immediate time off, throwing basics into a bag and rushing to catch the flight from SFO.

When the one-off special investigation had morphed into a job, a friend shipped her meager belongings to Vegas and her Californian lease was terminated by registered mail.

Sara dragged herself back to the present.

Now, seven years later, another move. This move had been well-planned, all options investigated and logistics organized. She'd traveled much further, geographically, when she went to Harvard, but not all distance is measured in miles. This felt by far the biggest move.

A sudden thought struck Sara, and she did some mental math.

Wow.

Seven years was the longest she'd lived in one place. Ever.

She shook her head in amazement and told herself to stop with the reminiscing; she was only freaking herself out. She breathed deeply a few times, concentrating - slowly in, slowly out - trying to calm her jangling nerves.

She needed to focus.

Live in the here and now. Look to the future.

Yes.

Sara clenched her fists, determined. She could do this.

She was here, now, and it was a time of change once more.

The paperback was not having its usual effect; closing it, she set the book on the arm of the chair and stretched her arms high above her head, legs straight out with pointed toes. Sara wiggled her feet and rotated her arms and shoulders, relaxing her tired muscles, then contemplated the cartons with renewed resolve.

She checked her watch. The movers were due in half an hour. She'd better get a move on herself.

A strange rumbling sound began and Sara started.

Then, feeling just a little silly, she realized what it was.

A door opened and closed, a few paces sounded on the hardwood planks in the hallway and Sara started to smile.

"Honey, I'm home!" Framed in the doorway and looking delicious in a dark suit, stood Gil Grissom, with a cheesy grin on his face.

Leaping up, now full of energy, she hurried into his hug. After a quick kiss Sara pulled back, still in the comforting circle his arms.

"You're back early. I'm guessing it went well."

"Yep, he was about to take the stand when he changed his plea."

"Persuaded that he had no chance by the clarity of the evidence given by an eminent entomologist."

Grissom tilted his head, acknowledging her compliment with a satisfied smirk.

"Hey Griss, the movers . . ."

"Yeah, they'll be here with my stuff soon, won't they? I didn't think I'd make it in time to help. I'll just go change. Where's that bag of my clothes?"

"I unpacked the contents of your suitcase into the -- our bedroom closet." She pinkened, slightly bashful about her correction.

He smiled softly, blue eyes twinkling, and headed upstairs.

----------------------------

Grissom wearily closed the front door as the movers headed to their truck.

After a brief search he found Sara out back on the deck, staring into space. Approaching from behind, he slipped his arms around her waist and bent a tad to nuzzle her neck. "They're gone, honey."

"Mmm."

"They were efficient, I'll give them that. But I'm still glad we did your move yesterday."

Hidden in a nearby shrub a verdin whistled its three-note song. Sara sighed.

He pulled her closer. "Are you OK? You seem a bit . . . distant."

"No--um, yes, I mean . . . I--I'm fine." She nodded firmly for emphasis.

Grissom released Sara, and with a light hand on her shoulder turned her around to face him. His kinked right eyebrow silently questioned her unconvincing answer.

"It's just . . . Before, I was thinking about all my previous moves . . . I don't really have any positive experiences of living with . . . people."

He paused as he considered how to reply. "But I'm not 'people'. I'm me. You . . . like me."

"And I love you."

This wasn't news, but he would never tire of hearing it. He brushed the curve of her cheek with a finger. "And I you."

"But--that's the thing . . . that makes this so much more important, more . . . scary."

Grissom studied her silently for a moment. Putting his hands on her shoulders, he leaned forward to whisper into her ear. "It'll be all right, you'll see. We haven't come this far to mess it up now. We're both highly motivated, and you know you've never failed at anything you've really worked for." Bussing her cheek as he drew back, he added, "You know that's true."

Sara's unsettled eyes shied from his strong steady gaze. She shrugged doubtfully and conjured up a feeble smile.

Moving was always stressful, but he didn't think that was the problem. He had to get her to explain. "What's wrong, Sara?"

"Um . . . not wrong, really, but --when you said earlier 'Honey, I'm home'--well . . ." Her voice trailed away and she looked over his shoulder.

"But, uh, that's just a corny saying, sweetheart. . . it shouldn't upset you." Grissom was grasping; he had no idea what her real concern was.

"No, no, that's not it. I--I . . . I've never had a real home." She bowed her head, and peeked up at him through her lashes. Her tongue nervously slipped out to moisten her lips. "I don't know how . . . what one is."

"What what is?" He still wasn't getting it.

"I don't know what a home is."

"Sure you do, honey." He straightened up and lifted his chin, putting on his authoritative teacher's face. But his eyes were warm as he declared, "Home, noun, an environment offering security and affection."

He spread his arms wide, gesturing at the house and yard. "So, one, we have an environment." He raised his brow seeking her agreement. She nodded slowly.

"Two, we have security." Grissom fished his keychain out of his pocket and pointed to the security system remote control which jostled amongst the keys. Again he looked at Sara, who nodded once more, the corners of her mouth starting to turn up.

"Three." Pocketing his keys he picked her up, whirling her round until they were both dizzy, then set her down more abruptly than he'd intended and bestowed loud smacking kisses on all her available skin. Giggling, Sara tried to squirm out of reach, all the while sneaking a hand under Grissom's shirt trying to get to the ticklish spot below his ribs.

Eventually they stopped, gasping for air as they calmed down.

"Where were we? Ah, three." With an open palm, he handed the floor to Sara.

"OK, yes, we do have a teeny bit of mutual affection." She pursed her lips then grinned cheerfully at him, her earlier tension gone. "And we can always work on that."

They stood for a moment, eyes locked. Looking down, Sara laced her slender fingers between his. Grissom's thumbs rubbed gently over her hands, and then he tugged lightly to get her to raise her line of sight.

"Home is where the heart is, Sara." He pulled her right hand to his chest so she could feel the steady thumping. She mirrored the move with their other hands and they leaned together, foreheads kissing.

Sara murmured, "Then, I'm home."

THE END

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