Title: Honey, Do You Love Me?
Author: Klee Wyck
Spoilers: Season 5, post-Nesting Dolls, but pre-Committed, because, say it with me, we all know Committed is the ep where they got together, right? Right.
Disclaimer: Not mine, no way, no how.
Summary: She hadn't meant to start playing the game in the first place.
A/N: To childhood games, because they led me here.
Grissom wanted to play, too.
They were in the breakroom, all of them, a rare occasion indeed, eating, laughing, trying to not talk shop. Grissom was reading and pretending to not listen to them, pretending to not remember grade school and how he was always picked last for any team. Always.
She popped the last of her sandwich — cheese and mustard, who eats like that? — into her mouth, chewed and swallowed, then leaned close to Nick, closer, closer—
Grissom's mouth went dry.
"Honey, do you love me?" she growled seductively. Then she bit her lower lip. Grissom watched this out of the corner of his eye, almost dropping his book, almost falling off his chair, almost sporting a complete and mortifying erection.
He added yet another Sara Sidle fantasy to his lengthy mental tally, which included, among many, many others, oral sex on a shiny, silver morgue gurney, and taking her up against the glass wall of the A/V lab.
Nick stared back impassively. Then Sara crossed her eyes and stuck out her tongue. Nick choked on his soda and sputtered behind his hand, spraying amber liquid in a surprisingly graceful arc.
"Nice!" Sara said, backing away, finally, and laughing with him.
"That's seriously weird, girl," said Warrick.
"It's a game," said Sara, dabbing the front of her shirt with a napkin. "I used to play it when I was a kid."
"What kind of childhood did you have, anyway?" he laughed, tipping back in his chair and shaking his head.
At that, her eyes cut immediately to Grissom, and they made brief, explosive contact. Kaboom. Then she looked away.
"It was…interesting," she said, smirking a little.
See? I know things about her, Grissom consoled himself, that no one else knows. I have that at least.
"Warped, you mean," Warrick said and she threw her sandwich wrapper at him. "So, you're just trying to get the other person to smile? What's the point? What does a smile mean?"
"It means you love her," said Catherine in a singsong voice.
"Ooh, can I play?" said Greg, leaning forward on the table and resting his chin on his hands. Grissom snorted and rolled his eyes. Sara glanced at him, raising an eyebrow, but said nothing.
"Not enough of a challenge, Sanders," she said, grinning.
Pick me, pick me! Grissom shouted frantically, suddenly very absorbed in his book.
"There's always Grissom," said Catherine around a mouthful of soup.
"Yeah," added Greg. "He hardly ever smiles anyway."
Grissom glared at him.
"See?" Greg pointed.
"I smile," Grissom said.
"When?" asked Greg.
"'Start every day with a smile and get it over with'," Grissom said coolly. "W.C. Fields."
"Always remember to be happy because you never know who's falling in love with your smile," said Sara.
Grissom looked at her. Kaboom.
"Sara Sidle," she said, shrugging. She smiled then, wide, uninhibited, gap-toothed.
She hadn't meant to start playing the game in the first place.
They'd all been sitting around, eating, shooting the shit for the first time in ages. It had felt good, actually, to not talk about work for a change. Even with Grissom in the room, sitting nearby, she could feel herself relaxing and almost having, well, fun. Kind of. She always felt slightly on edge in his presence, slightly aware. But he was ignoring them, as usual. Kind of. She was pretty sure his eyes kept flicking over in their direction as they started debating video games and whether they really had a negative impact on kids and violence (she said definitely yes; Nick said definitely no). That had segued neatly into a discussion of the games they had played as kids, before the annoying, high-tech age of noisy gadgets and hand-held whatevers.
Red Rover, Hide and Seek, baseball, basketball, hopscotch, marbles, jump rope, road hockey, Heads Up Seven Up, Red Light/Green Light, Simon Says.
"Spin the Bottle," Nick said, gleefully.
"Yeah. Yeah!" said Greg. "Ah, good times."
"Honey, Do You Love Me?" Sara joined in.
"Huh?" said Nick, and everyone else looked at like she was nuts, even Grissom, for a split second.
She tried to describe it, but demonstrating seemed so much easier. But with who? Not Greg, poor boy. Warrick? Not with Catherine in the room. Grissom?
Oh God, no.
She wasn't quite sure what possessed her to say it so, well, sensuously, but for some reason, having Grissom sitting there pretending to ignore them and ignore her brought out her inner Siren.
And the results were worth it. He almost dropped his damn book and she could have sworn he blushed, just a little.
Then Nick went and spit all over her, always a hazard of that particular game, and the spell was broken.
Until Warrick made a comment about her childhood which sent a dagger straight through her chest and she looked at Grissom, fully expecting him to be immersed once again in his reading but instead found him staring at her with that look. That look. Because he knew. He knew something about her that no one else did.
She hadn't realize how much she'd enjoy sharing a secret with him.
Then Catherine — damn her — went and suggested Grissom as her next victim. Not that the thought didn't intrigue her, because thinking about getting that close to him, of saying those words, of waiting for his response, well, it was the stuff fantasies were made of, right?
Among other things.
But they avoided the whole embarrassing affair tidily enough with some pithy quotes topped off with one of her big, geeky smiles.
Sometimes, when she looked at him, she just couldn't help it.
But he probably hadn't even noticed, because he rose very shortly after that and took off without a word to anyone, as usual.
"You guys are all coming tomorrow night, right?" Greg said as they cleaned up their lunch wrappings.
"What was that for again?" Nick said.
"My party? Birthday? Hello?"
"Just kidding, Greggo," Nick slapped his shoulder. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Count me in, too," Warrick said. "You're buying, right?"
"Ha." Greg smirked, not sure if he was joking or not. "Sara?"
"Uh…yeah. Sure. I could use a night out," she said, wondering if Grissom would be there.
"You think Grissom will come?" Greg asked Catherine.
"Oh, I wouldn't get your hopes up," Catherine wiped her mouth delicately. "I'll ask him. But, you know."
"Man, I'd love to see him drunk," said Nick.
Me, too, thought Sara.
"Ah, forget it. He won't come," said Greg, throwing his garbage towards the can. He missed.
"Ten bucks says he does," said Nick.
"Even if Catherine tells him Sara's coming?" Nick said under his breath. Sara pretended not to hear.
"Yeah. Even then," Greg picked up his garbage and shot a glance at Sara, who was suddenly busy wiping crumbs off the table.
She shoved her hands in her pockets, watched her colleagues file out, thought about asking Catherine if she really was going to talk to Grissom after all.
As if it would make any difference.
Grissom, sitting in a men's room stall, head in his hands, willing his painfully erect erection to go away.
Slimy, bloated bodies.
Sara almost kissing Nick.
That did it.
He took a deep breath, made his way to the sink, splashed cold water on his flushed face.
Sara, smiling at him.
Back in the stall.
"Gil, lighten up. I mean—"
"No Catherine. It sounds…torturous."
"Oh for pity's sake. It's a party. A birthday party."
"Yes, you mentioned." Grissom pulled off his glasses and regarded Catherine from behind his desk. She was watching him with a look she normally reserved for Lindsey when she asked to wear high heels to school. Are you fucking kidding me? "And I can't, for the life of me, imagine why you think I'd be interested in attending."
"Because…because!" She threw her hands up in frustration. "Because it will be fun! Do you even remember what it's like to have fun?
Unless fun meant falling asleep in bed every night reading A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada: Identification, Natural History, and Distribution of the Cicindelidae, he didn't, to be quite honest.
"I mean, I just hate to think of you locked away in your room reading Beetles and You, every night, you know?"
"That's not what it's called," he said. And then, quietly, "I have fun."
"Come on. Everyone will be there," she said.
"You're resorting to peer pressure? I'm disappointed."
"Yes! Anything to pry you away from your…whatever it is you do when you're alone."
Grissom sighed again. "Look, Cath—"
"Do me a favour then, okay? Come with me. As my date."
"I don't want to show up alone, and, well, you're not planning to ask anyone, right?"
She stared at him, a tiny smirk pulling at her lips. He stared back, narrowed his eyes, gauging the weight and meaning of that particular comment.
"No," he said slowly.
"Then it's settled. Please. Please! For me? You can drive…and you can leave when you want. I promise."
He sighed for what felt the 17th time that day.
Last resort, Catherine thought. "Sara will be there."
"So?" Grissom pulled his best defensive face, making Catherine laugh out loud.
"So nothing. So, you're coming?"
He fiddled with some papers. He pushed his glasses back up on his nose. He looked at her.
"What's the name of this place again?"
She grinned. "The Snake Pit."
"Yes," he sighed. "Of course it is."
She couldn't remember that last time she'd dressed up for anything other than a court appearance, so she wasn't at all surprised when her hands trembled as she pulled the dress over her head, shimmied it down past her hips, over her thighs. It was black and snug in all the right places, whatever that meant. Low cut, but not slutty, it fell almost to her knees. Modest, for sure, compared to what other women would be wearing tonight, but still.
She wondered if Grissom would be there.
She shook her head, laughing at herself. What if he was? He'd hardly give her a second glance, anyway. She smoothed the silky fabric over her hips nervously, once, twice, then forced herself to stop.
Why wouldn't her hands stop shaking? She took a deep breath and tried again.
She'd showered, then let her hair dry naturally, which she rarely did anymore these days. It was waving nicely at the moment, but would probably pull up into unruly curls by the end of the night, in a hot and humid club filled with bouncing, sweating, alcohol-infused bodies.
She wondered if Grissom would show up.
Usually she wore chapstick, or the palest pink. Tonight she used red. Ruby Red. She pressed her lips together, blotted them on a sheet of tissue. She regarded herself in the mirror, wondered what people would think when they saw her.
Just me, she decided. Just Sara. Cleans up well, for sure, but still just Sara. Gangly, gawky, geeky. She smoothed her dress down again. And once more.
She wondered what Grissom would see.
He expected it to be horrible, all loud, throbbing techno-beats and hypnotic, epileptic-attack inducing flashing lights. He expected underage, inebriated idiots bouncing and banging, spilling their toxic-coloured drinks on him. He expected to get a migraine. He expected to hate it.
He was right.
He didn't expect to see Sara in the middle of the whole mess, clad in some snug, black dress, modest to be sure, comparatively, but still.
She was standing with Greg and Nick near a booth, a drink clasped in one hand, her other hand resting easily on Greg's shoulder. He was talking — yelling — in her ear and she was grinning. Her hair was loose and wavier than he remembered it being earlier. She was wearing makeup. Her lips — God — they were red. He tried to imagine how she looked to others, to the complete strangers in this God-forsaken hellhole where he found himself held hostage.
She looked stunning.
He couldn't stop staring at her.
"Isn't this great?" Catherine gripped his arm and shouted in his ear.
"Not unlike a rectal prostate exam."
"What?" she yelled.
He shook his head. It really didn't matter. He expected to make an appearance, say something along the lines of Have a good one, to Greg, perhaps have a quick drink, and leave. He didn't expect Sara to happily squeeze his hand when she saw him, or kiss his cheek. He didn't expect her to stand quite so close to him, the maddening weight of her breasts pushing against his arm. He didn't expect her to smell like an intoxicating blend of exotic flowers and sweet citrus.
"What are you drinking?" he yelled finally, because it seemed safer than Will you come home with me? Right now? His mouth was dangerously close to her ear.
"Sex on the Beach!" she said. "Greg swears by them. Says they get him laid every time."
He immediately added another fantasy to his list. Dear God. He was too old for this.
"How many have you had?"
"One too many, apparently," she laughed. "I tend to overshare when I've been drinking."
"I don't normally do this," she said.
She was swaying to what he assumed what the music, if it could be called that, her hip bumping gently against his. He caught Nick and Greg shooting him amused looks, and he wondered which of them lost the bet. Then there was a convergence of people, Warrick among them, which caused Catherine to, Lord, whoop and throw her arms around his neck, plus about 15 other revelers that Grissom assumed were friends of Greg's.
Greg had friends. Many.
Grissom suddenly needed a drink.
"Excuse me," he said to Sara, who nodded and sipped at her own concoction.
Sex on the Beach.
God help him.
But, he soon realized, it only got worse. Much, much worse.
He stood staring up helplessly at the brilliant neon billboard above the mile-long bar, mouthing the names flashing there: Killer Koolaid. Slippery Nipple. Roll Me Over and Do Me Again. Sex With an Alligator. Red Death. Tie Me to the Bedpost, Baby. Hop, Skip and Go Naked.
Wait a minute.
"Is there an actual grasshopper in the Chocolate Covered Grasshopper?" he yelled at the shaved-head, many-tattooed behemoth waiting to serve him.
"Huh?" was the reply.
Grissom shook his head.
"I'll just have a beer," he said.
"What kind, man?"
Never in his life had he wanted to be somewhere, anywhere, else, so badly.
Until about 10 minutes later.
I waited five minutes too long, he decided as he sipped his drink. Five lousy minutes.
Long enough for one of Greg's throng of partiers, Ryan? Brian? to accost Sara and drag her out on the dance floor. Long enough to grind up against her, hands on her hips, eyes glued to her breasts. Long enough for Grissom to remember exactly why he didn't do this. Didn't socialize.
He had no idea how to compete. Being picked last for every team, always, tended to have that effect on a person.
So, as usual, he didn't even bother to try. He just knew he couldn't sit and watch Ryan/Brian engage in dance floor foreplay with Sara for one more minute because he might actually have a heart attack and die on the floor in The Snake Pit which was, in his estimation, a fate worse than death. He drained his bottle and looked around desperately for Catherine. He found her leaning back in an overstuffed armchair, yelling at Warrick who was perched on the chair's arm and gazing down at her impressive cleavage.
"I have to leave," Grissom said in her ear.
"You sure?" she said, glancing up at Warrick.
"Oh, positive." He waved vaguely in their direction and made a beeline for what he hoped was an exit and what he hoped would take him as far away from Sara and her voice and her eyes and her lips and her little black dress as he could possibly get.
She saw him leave, of course. She'd been watching him out of the corner of her eye since the moment he'd entered the place, Catherine hanging on his arm.
He looked, as she'd expected, uncomfortable, uptight, out of place, confused, pained, annoyed, irritated.
Fucking sexy as hell.
Just when she thought she couldn't fall any further in love with him.
Her stomach did that funny little flip-flop thing it did whenever she saw him and she hurriedly looked away, pretending to be interested in something Greg was shouting in her ear. She'd forgotten how loud these places were. And then he was there, standing right beside her, kind of staring at her with a hypnotic glaze in his eyes. She thought he was probably getting a migraine and was going to ask him just that when she had a small out of body experience and decided to squeeze his hand and kiss him. On the cheek.
Holy shit, she thought. I'll probably get written up for that one.
But he didn't jump away or even look that surprised. He moved closer in fact and asked her what she was drinking.
Because he thinks I'm drunk, she decided glumly, which I'm halfway to being, but only because I was hoping he'd show up and I don't know. Kissing him was a lot easier with three drinks in my system.
And the kiss turned out to be the highlight of the night, which was fine with her because everything else was about as terrible as she'd thought it would be. And then some.
One of Greg's cute but pushy friends dragged her on the dance floor then proceeded to paw at her until she set him straight.
"What, you have a boyfriend?" Ryan yelled, watching her intently.
"Kind of," she yelled back and it was kind of true.
"Greg said you were single."
"Greg doesn't know everything."
And she saw Grissom again, watching her, nursing a beer — she hadn't figured him for a beer drinker, and when she'd first arrived she'd almost, almost bought him a Chocolate Covered Grasshopper and she would have, if there'd been a real one in it — and looking completely miserable. Ryan put his hands on her hips and stared at her breasts and she told him to knock it off and when she looked back, Grissom was gone. Well, going. She craned her neck as he hunted down Catherine, then made a beeline for the exit.
She felt like she did after all the Christmas presents had been opened and it was time to shove the wrappings into a garbage bag.
The rest of the night was rather blurry, with lots of dancing, more drinks, Greg yelling something like Kamikaze over and over, and a girl, Donna? Shauna? following her around, shooting her vicious looks and mouthing something Sara couldn't decipher.
Finally Ryan, of course, tried to kiss her and for one moment she almost considered it. Why not? There was no one else here worth kissing and it had been so long. But no, it just wasn't going to work and she was in the middle of telling him something like, You're just not Grissom, when there was a flurry of hair and nails and shouting and a sharp, shooting pain in her eye and then stars.
His phone was ringing.
He was very tempted to ignore it because at the moment he was kissing Sara's red-stained mouth with reckless abandon, his hand sliding up under the snug black dress, over her hip. Dear God, she wasn't wearing underwear.
His phone was still ringing.
Cursing, he fumbled it off the bedside table, punching a button that he hoped would silence the thing before he was too wide awake to return to the task at hand. Instead he managed to turn it on.
He had no luck at all.
"Grissom," he sighed.
"Honey, do you love me?"
Sara. Not drunk, but most definitely not sober.
"Hello?" he said, all thudding heart and sweaty palms.
"We never got to play the other day." She paused. "Remember?
He nodded. Did he ever.
"I remember." He dragged a trembling hand over his face. "Sara, are you all right? Where are you?"
"Sara?" he said more sharply than he intended.
"I'm home." She sighed deeply. "I'm at home. In bed. Alone."
Not that it would have been his next question, but he felt his pulse slow infinitesimally.
"Okay. Well." He rolled on his side, his eyes drawn to his alarm clock. 4:17 a.m. "Did you just get home?"
"Yep. Greg just rolled me in here."
"Yeah. He's…uh…sleeping. I think. Or passed out, rather."
"Greg's there? Right now?" And you're calling me?
"Well, not here," she laughed. "He's on the couch. He had quite a birthday, let me tell you."
"I can imagine," Grissom pushed the phone tight to his ear because her voice was starting to fade. "You should…you should get some sleep. You're booked in at 8 a.m."
"You should have stuck around," she said rather wistfully. "We could have…"
He held his breath.
"Anyway." She roused herself. "You didn't answer my question."
"Question?" he said dumbly.
"Honey, do you love me?"
"Uh…that's not really a game you can play over the phone, can you?" he said, closing his eyes. "I mean."
"No. I s'pose not."
Then there was silence for a full 30 seconds.
"Sara?" he finally said quietly.
"Hmm?" she said, a sound that made his heart roll over, sit up and beg for more.
"I'm smiling," he said, and he was.
More silence, then just breathing, quietly, deeply.
Either I have very good luck or none at all, he thought.
At the moment he couldn't decide which was better.
Everyone was late for work, including Grissom, who ignored his alarm clock, twice, in order to ride out his dream to its inevitable, glorious climax.
The shiny, silver morgue gurney dream. One of his personal favourites.
When he walked in the breakroom he wanted to laugh, but instead slammed his file folders down on the table as hard as he could. Greg's head, which had been resting on the table top, jerked up and he groaned. Catherine, who was cradling her head in her heads, shot him a truly dirty look. Warrick, who was sitting across from her, shot Catherine an equally dirty look.
Don't even want to know, thought Grissom.
Only Nick looked well rested.
Sara wasn't even there.
"Well," Grissom said. "Wasn't that a party."
"You don't know the half of it," Greg said faintly. "What happened to you, anyway? Where'd you go?"
"I went home," Grissom said, surveying his pathetic team. "To sleep."
"And yet you're still late," said Catherine. "Interesting."
Grissom ignored her.
"Everyone left," Greg complained. "I mean, you guys. You suck. Only Sara stuck it out to the end."
Grissom looked at him.
"Oh man, you have no idea. Seriously. Best birthday ever," he seemed to be perking up, just remembering. "My friend Ryan? He hit on her? You know? And…oh man." He started laughing. "There was even a girl fight."
"A what?" said Catherine, looking disgusted.
Sara walked in, head down, eyes averted.
"Morning," she muttered. "Sorry I'm late."
"Holy shit!" Warrick sat up, grinning. "Look at you!"
Look at her, indeed, thought Grissom. With a great, big black and blue shiner around her left eye.
"What happened to you?" he said very loudly. "Did someone hit you?"
"Yes!" Greg crowed. "That's what I was trying to tell you! Ryan—"
"That guy hit you?" Grissom said even more loudly, feeling his pulse start to race. What had he left? Why hadn't he stayed to make sure—
"No, no," Greg shook his head. "Shauna hit her."
"Shauna?" Catherine said. "That tiny little thing who was flitting around all night?"
"I really don't want to talk about it," Sara said, opening her notebook and taking out a pen. "Really."
"Shauna likes Ryan, see? And Ryan was flirting with Sara, making the moves, you know?"
"Greg," Sara said in her best warning voice.
"And then Ryan tried to kiss her—"
Everyone stared at Sara who was steadfastly refusing to look at anyone, especially Grissom.
"And?" prompted Nick.
"And pow! Shauna was all over her! Just blindsided her. But Sara, well, you know Sara," Greg continued fondly. Sara sighed and dropped her head on her hand, wincing slightly. "She fought the good fight."
"Oh God," Sara muttered.
"I think you broke her nose," Greg said proudly. "Really."
"She wouldn't get off me," she said, still refusing to look up. "It was all very high school. Junior high school, even. Let's…just drop it. Please."
"And then Ryan—"
"Listen to me, Sanders," Sara looked up at last, glared at Greg, jabbed her pen at him for emphasis. "I'm never, ever going out with you again, anywhere, do you hear me? So don't ask. Ever."
She gathered up her paper and pen and then dropped her pen and had to fumble around on the floor for it. The she left.
Greg leaned back in his chair, grinning broadly.
"I am so inviting her to my birthday next year."
They were slated to work together, of course, because he was the unluckiest person in the world.
Or the luckiest. The final verdict on that was still out.
He watched her from a safe distance as they processed the scene, safe meaning she couldn't tell he was watching her.
At noon they sat in the shade of a tree, eating but not talking much. She kept her sunglasses on the entire time. He wondered if she had a hangover, or if her eye just hurt. He fleetingly considered asking her if she would have kissed Ryan/Brian if she hadn't been almost knocked out when she suddenly cleared her throat and wiped her hands on her coveralls.
"Listen, Grissom," she smiled, then winced a little. "Um…about last night, the phone call. I just wanted to apologize, really. It was unprofessional. Chalk it up to, uh, too much alcohol and not enough evenings out, you know?"
He watched her, wishing wholeheartedly that he was someone in her life who had the right to reach over and remove her sunglasses, gently touch her swollen, discoloured eye. He shoved his hands in his pockets.
"I mean, it was a big mistake. Not that I didn't enjoy talking to you, but, you know." She blushed, a lovely shade of Ruby Red. "Maybe under different circumstances. I mean—"
"It's all right, Sara," he cut in gently. "Anytime."
"You mean that?" she said, surprised but smirking.
He stammered, realizing what he'd implied. "Uh, well. You know."
She shook her head, grinning. "No, Grissom. With you I never do."
She stood and walked back toward the house.
He watched her go. She turned back once, caught him looking, smiled a little.
Something, he decided then, was going to happen. Yes, his luck was going to change. Definitely.
He could feel it.