Rating: T (at most)
Disclaimer: I am a not-for-profit writer; some other lucky people own CSI and the characters.
Author's note: Set after the end of Season 7. A big yay and thank you to PhDelicious for beta reading and her always perceptive comments.
Summary: Communication can be a tricky thing. Established GSR.
"Ohio?! Why on Earth would you want to go to Ohio?"
"Because that's where Kenyon College is, Sara, you know that." Grissom's patience was wearing a little thin; this had been going on for a while.
"So, you're teaching part of a summer course, and you're allowed to bring me along?"
That was precisely what he had been saying for the last ten minutes, in a variety of ways – all with the same result, or rather lack thereof. Instead of leaping at the chance for a complete change of scenery, Sara just kept on asking questions. He silently counted to five, and tried again. "Yes, it's an introduction to forensics seminar, which is part of a wider summer course on the criminal justice system."
"What, no bugs?"
He hated it when people called them bugs, she knew that. Even if he too was guilty of doing it on occasion. Perhaps she was just trying to rile him."Uh, well, there may be an additional session on forensic entomology."
"May be?" she shot back. "Hasn't the timetable already been set?"
Why did she have to be so difficult about this? He closed his eyes for a second, then decided to be brave and looked up. It wasn't like the truth would really surprise her. "Um . . . I volunteered to lead the second seminar if there was sufficient interest."
"Why does that not surprise me?"
Grissom shrugged feebly; he knew he looked sheepish.
Now was probably not the time to mention the possibility that had been discussed of Sara leading a session on materials and elements analysis.
She frowned, suddenly serious. "I don't know, Griss, I'm just enjoying being back home, you know . . .".
'. . . instead of being trapped under a car in the desert' went unspoken. She had a good point there. Sara's rescue had been mercifully speedy, and her subsequent hospital stay thankfully short, but she – and he – wouldn't be getting over it any time soon.
Nevertheless, he had to forge onward. Grissom shuddered internally, and reached for her hand across the table. They'd just enjoyed a delicious meal – praise where praise was due, even if he was the chef – and he figured it was as good a time as any to bring the subject up.
"But . . . I thought it'd be a nice break, away from the desert, from . . . everything here." His voice trailed off. He was on thin ice. He'd committed himself to going just before Sara was abducted, and somehow there never seemed to have been a good time since to raise it with her. He had secretly arranged for her to have the time off, and had been dreaming of springing it on her at the last minute, at most a few days before departure. That was, until he realized 'Hey, I'm going to whisk you away from all this for a week in central Ohio' mightn't be such a draw.
She didn't have to go, damnit he didn't have to go, but they'd never had any real time away together and he just . . . wanted to. Now that their relationship had been revealed, there was nothing to stand in their way. Except, perhaps, Sara.
"I mean . . . I know we've got a proper vacation planned for September in Jackson Hole, but we could both do with a break before that, couldn't we? Look, they're expecting me; they'd like to see me, but it's an intro course. If it comes to it, someone like Greg could teach it – hell, even Hodges could." He was babbling now. "Except I'd probably get drowned by his waves of gratitude, and then when he got back . . ." Ugh. Even thinking about it was nauseating.
"No. No! Come on, you know that Hodges would be insufferable if you let him sub for you. What are you thinking?!"
I've already told you what I'm thinking, he muttered silently to himself. I want you to come with me.
Given his conspicuous lack of success in persuading her so far, Grissom decided to go for broke. He had been told by a number of women over the years that his eyes were very appealing. Sara was no ordinary woman, but it was worth a try. So he gave her a full-on blast of his baby blues, interspersing a couple of what he hoped were seductive blinks.
Sara started to . . . what?! She couldn't be . . . He would almost have sworn that she was . . . giggling?
But she pursed her lips and looked concerned as she spoke. "D'you have something in your eyes? Let me see . . . maybe you should wash them with that eye-bath thing."
She made as if to get up and he responded with a downward 'stay' motion. Oh help, now he was treating her like the dog. Luckily she didn't seem to have taken offence.
In fact, she didn't seem to be paying him a whole lot of attention at all. She rose from the table, cleared the dishes, flatware and glasses and stacked them efficiently in the dishwasher. Then she beckoned with a jerk of her head for him to follow her to the big sofa.
This was where they generally ended up, with positional variations reflecting their individual moods. Today, Sara was stretched out looking very relaxed, with Grissom sitting up a little stiffly at the far end. But he was privately very satisfied with the arrangement. He could count on her feet gravitating to his lap, giving him a massage opportunity. The first time he'd done it almost without thinking, and the result had been . . . wonderful. They'd gone to bed much earlier than he was accustomed to, and neither had gotten much sleep. Ah . . .
"Griss? Are you okay? You seem a bit, uh . . . out of it."
"Whuh? Uh, yeah, good. Fine. Just thinking."
"Uh, um . . . did I tell you we have a nice place to stay there?"
"What, a Hampton Inn?" Sara's lack of enthusiasm was obvious.
"No, no, nothing like that. It's a house. Belongs to a former colleague of mine from Minneapolis; she teaches biology at Kenyon. I visited her there once when she was still married. She's the one who suggested me for the course."
"Tell the truth – I bet the real story is she didn't want to do it, and thought of a workaholic friend who would. Am I right?"
Sara was being unnecessarily negative. He decided not to answer that directly.
"Anyway," he glared mildly at her and went on. "Evie was a good friend to me when we were both in the Twin Cities, but she soon left CSI and went into academia. She'll be away most of this summer, in Brazil, bird-watching with her new love, and she's offered us her place to stay in."
Sara refrained from further comment, but he took her raised brow as an encouraging sign.
Grissom delved into his memory to describe the house, its wide slate-blue weatherboards and twirly white trim, the big river stone chimney and covered front porch complete with swing seat, the flower beds flanking the brick-paved front path. "There's plenty of space, with a screened porch at the back, and a fenced yard – we can take Bruno." Sara nodded in approval at that. Maybe he was at last getting somewhere.
"And we can go canoeing on the Kokosing river, which borders the back yard." He smiled encouragingly at her; he thought the canoes might tip the balance.
Sara grinned back at him, but then her face morphed into a frown. "Wait a second. You're trying to distract me with canoes. And it almost worked. You said 'a screened porch'. That means there must be loads of flying insects around." She looked at him accusingly.
Grissom contrived to look both unknowing and innocent. Given his specialist training and his knowledge of the location, it was a stretch. Suddenly Sara's big toe and the slight bunion on her left foot were extremely fascinating. He started to knead her instep.
"Nope, nah-uh, no way!" Sara pulled her feet back and sat up, crossing her legs beneath her. "You're not doing that to me again. None of this massaging me into mush so I forget what we were talking about."
"But . . . you make very adorable, sexy mush." He smirked hopefully at her.
"And you are trying to change the subject again. Admit it, the place is Bugsville, and that's why you want to go there."
"No, categorically no. The insect life did not influence my decision at all. Absolutely not." Great – he was starting to sound ridiculous, and petulant with it. He should have known better than to engage with Sara when she was in this sort of mood. She'd always been so much quicker at repartee. It was exasperating. He'd started this though, and he had to finish it. "Look, this time of year it's warm and getting humid. Yes, there will be some insects around; it's natural. But it's also very green and leafy – wouldn't that be a nice change from here?"
Sara glanced at him and seemed to decide to let that one go – for now at least. Then her brow furrowed and she appeared to be in pain. " Ohio. Didn't they vote for Bush in the last presidential election?"
Rats. So they did. The result was really close though, wasn't it? "Uh, well, they've got a Democratic governor now." Grissom wasn't sure, in Sara's current frame of mind, whether this would help or hinder his cause. Sara's political views could best be described as pragmatic.
Attempting a conversational tone, he changed tack. "Did you know that Paul Newman went to Kenyon College?"
There was an undeniable flicker of interest in Sara's eyes. Stood to reason. She loved the Newman's Own chunky salsa and was a big fan of him in The Verdict.
"Yeah, he attended Kenyon after his war service and he recently donated big bucks to a scholarship fund there." Sometimes Grissom surprised himself, the things he remembered.
"Hmm. Interesting. But it's not like he's actually going to be there, is it?"
He started to reply, then caught the glint in her eye, her joking challenge. He settled for widespread hands and a shrug. "It's not likely, no."
Sara was silent for a time, then she unfolded her legs and wriggled across the sofa to his side. A bit more hopeful now, he lifted his arm to wrap around her shoulder, and waited. He snuck a glance at her. She seemed to be staring unseeing in the direction of the book cases. The silence stretched out, and Grissom was getting worried. Or at the very least, concerned. Nothing for it but to try again. "So, it's the week starting July 23rd. I'd like you to be there. Will you come with me, please?"
"Sure, I'd love to. Bugsville here we come!"
She turned and kissed an astonished Grissom on the nose then leapt up. Heading for the kitchen, she called back over her shoulder, "You want something to drink?"
Grissom stared after her, gaping like a fish, wondering if he was having auditory hallucinations. After all that rigmarole, had she just said yes, like it had been a foregone conclusion?
"Griss? Drink?" she repeated, standing by the open fridge.
"Uh, yeah, um . . . just water, thanks."
Still stunned at Sara's about-face, he mechanically lifted his hand to take the offered glass, and carefully steered it down onto the coffee table.
Sara went back to her previous position, long legs stretched out toward him and nudged the dazed Grissom with a toe. "Hey, you OK?"
A belated feeling of relief washed over him. He glanced at her, and a slow grin started. "Yeah, sure, I'm great . . . but, um, surprised. You didn't seem very keen, then all of a sudden you changed your mind."
"No, I didn't change my mind. I was always going to go."
"But, then, what was with all the . . ." He waved his hand vaguely. She'd been there; she knew what she'd said.
"You really have no idea, do you?" Sara was studying his face intently.
He shook his head mutely.
"You went on about the course, your friend from Minneapolis, her house, Paul Newman and canoes, but you never once asked me to go with you."
"But . . . didn't I?" He had no idea. He must have, mustn't he? All the same, he had no doubt that her memory would be correct. "Wasn't it at least implied?"
Sara leaned forward, softly grasping his chin to turn his face her way. "A word of advice. Sometimes the direct approach is best. People like to be asked, to feel that they have a choice."
He nodded slowly, listening.
"No matter how much I love you, and want to be with you, that still applies. Especially these days."
Oh. He could understand that. He sighed at his stupidity, and Sara stroked his cheek.
"So, when you finally got round to asking me, of course I said yes."
But still . . . Grissom squinted suspiciously at Sara. "How long were you going to let me flounder?"
"Oooohh, I dunno. A while?" She grinned cheekily at him. "You're very cute when you're flustered."
"Promise me one thing?"
"When we're there, will you call the place by its proper name?"
"Y'mean, it's not called 'Bugsville'?"
A/N: Apologies to the Buckeye State and to Hodges! Kenyon College exists (in Gambier, OH), as does the Paul Newman connection to it.
The screens around our porch got mauled by marauding raccoons. When they were replaced recently I was cleaning insects – alive and dead – out of the porch, and I thought of Grissom, then this story idea. Hope you enjoyed it.