Part IIIThe Big Chill was a lame movie, but Grissom seemed to like it.
"Did you ever go a day without a rationalization?"
He had asked her that three years earlier and she had initially brushed off the question. It wasn't until hours later, after he left, that she began to ponder the question he posed.
Sara rationalized a lot.
But of course she would. Someone with her past…the murdered abuser for a father, the abused murderer for a mother…she had every right to…
Yeah, that was her problem. She rationalized.
A rationalization, a rationalization, her kingdom for a rationalization. Ah, good old Shakespeare. Grissom would appreciate that.
Now was the winter of her discontent. Or the fall, really. Now was the autumn of her discontent.
A chill seemed to settle in Las Vegas. The weatherman with a wall of shiny white teeth made a big deal about the unprecedented drop in temperature as fall swept through Nevada. "We've never seen lows so low," he smiled, his fake orange tan and stripe of white teeth making him look like some sort of mutant clownfish.
Global warming, some said. Others attributed the permanent gray sky to the goings on in the gulf -- cold fronts or warm fronts or something. Either way, none of it was true. Sara knew exactly why the sun did not shine in city she called home.
She had yet to tell Grissom about her past.
To tell him after she was rescued would be cheating (she rationalized); he was in too delicate a state (she rationalized) and wouldn't be able to withstand the blow (she rationalized) or, worse, his guilt for the entire situation would color his judgment (she rationalized) and he'd accept her checkered past (she hoped).
So she waited.
And the longer she waited, the more she wished she hadn't.
Not too long after she arrived home from the hospital, Sara stumbled on a once-sealed cardboard box in the middle of Grissom's home office. She didn't recognize the box. It had probably once been white but was now a faded cream color, clean but old. The shiny packing tape had been sliced through, leaving the top flaps pointing up at angles, making the large cube look like a mini house. Without thinking, Sara bent down and pushed back a flap and caught a glimpse of Grissom's face under glass.
She furrowed her brow, frowning at the sepia-toned picture. Grissom, but not Grissom.
Sara swallowed as she lifted the frame from its bubble wrap bed. She traced the features of the elder Grissom's face gently with her fingers. He had a kind face, not as handsome as Gil's, but more openly gregarious. He looked like a man who would like her, no questions asked. He looked like a man who would welcome her into the fold, who would give her a great big bear hug and not care about her tainted years.
This was the man whose DNA lived inside the man she loved, whose death shaped the boy who would become the man she loved.
They had the same lips.
Sara's index finger circled his mouth. She had kissed those lips thousands of times, had searched them endlessly for a shade of a smile or a frown.
"What are you doing?"
His voice was tender, but she jumped anyway.
"I…um…I saw this box and I…"
Grissom squatted down next to her and smiled sadly at the picture in her hands. "You found my mother's box. Her favorite things."
Sara handed the picture to him, feeling unworthy of holding it all of a sudden. "Your father?"
She was dying to say something to lighten up the mood ("Now I know where you get your good looks from, baby. Your dad was a hottie!") but decided it would only relieve her own uneasiness. Not everyone felt they needed to hide their family behind flippant comments. Instead, she was honest. "He looks like he was a nice man."
Grissom's gaze shot to hers, his eyes so glassy with tears, she had to look at her hands. "He was."
He handed her back the frame so he reach into the box. She watched him peel back the bubble wrap and uncover the rest of his mother's treasures.
"Her photo album," he said quietly. "All of the pictures were taken before Dad died." The old leather binding squeaked as he turned the cover to the first page. "Their wedding."
Sara took in the sight of the new Mr. and Mrs. Grissom, beaming at the camera as they stood outside of what she presumed was a church. "They look so happy," she said encouragingly, hoping he'd talk more.
"They were. This was taken December 14th, 1955." She nodded, tilting her head and taking in the image. "I was born almost exactly nine months later."
"Someone had a fun honeymoon," she murmured, wincing after the words had left her mouth. He laughed, though, surprising her, and she leaned her head lightly against his shoulder. He turned the page and this time it was her turn to laugh: an infant Gilbert Grissom was sprawled out on a blue receiving blanket, his naked round ass there for all the world to see. "I want a copy of that for my locker at work," she joked.
"Very funny," he said, good-naturedly, turning the page again, revealing more family pictures. Thanks to his mother's carefully preserved album, Sara was able to see Grissom's first Christmas, his first day of school.
"You were absolutely adorable," she said as they came upon a snapshot of a seven-year-old Gil, all decked out for Easter in his Sunday best.
He just smiled, shaking his head and turning the page. "Dad's greenhouse," he sighed, staring at a shot of his father surrounded by rows and rows of plants. "Mom loved roses, so he had this rotating collection of rose bushes in the back corner of the greenhouse. She always had fresh blooms." He turned the page, reaching the end of the album: a picture of Grissom's father in an armchair, with his son seated on the floor by his feet. "Dad's last picture. He died two weeks later."
"Don't be. Looking at this now…I can see I was happy. They were happy. They had ten full happy years together. Ten years. That's worth something."
Not knowing how to respond, Sara just wrapped the arm that wasn't cradling the picture around Grissom's shoulders. After a long moment of silence, he cleared his throat. "There's more stuff in here." He reached into the box once more and pulled out some carefully folded handkerchiefs. "She monogrammed them for him." He reached into the cardboard box again and pulled out a carved wooden box. "Her jewelry."
Grissom's fingers wandered over the design before he lifted the top of the jewelry box. He examined the contents. "Sara, I…I want you to have something."
Her eyes widened as she looked from Grissom to the wooden box and back to Grissom again. "Hmm?"
He carefully extracted a gold chain and pendent. "Her cross. She wore it all the time," he explained, dangling the piece of jewelry in front of her. "She took off her rings to wash the dishes and garden, but she never took off her cross. Will you have it?" he asked. "Will you wear it?"
Somehow, Sara found her voice. "Of course."
Grissom gathered her hair to the side before unclasping the chain. He laid the cross at the base of her throat solemnly, taking a moment to kiss the back of her neck before securing the clasp once more.
"I know I've never said…in so many words…I've never been able to say…even though I feel it." He breathed deeply, and she turned to face him. "I love you, Sara."
A/N: I know the period of human gestation is 40 weeks (which is not nine months) but nine months sounded so much nicer so I went with it.