Author: Klee Wyck
Spoilers: Season 8
Disclaimer: These people don't have too much fun. They're not mine.
Summary: Because all things come to an end.
Terminus: 1. The final point; the end; the end or extremity of anything.
A/N: I started writing this story several months ago, but it kept getting shoved aside in favour of other more…fun stories. It's meant to be the first of a three-story arc. I don't normally do WIPs, but will finish this, one way or another.
As soon as I return from vacation.
Only feet away from the light Orpheus lost faith and turned around. He saw Eurydice, but only for a moment as her shade was whisked back down among the other dead souls.
She was gone.
Orpheus and Eurydice
It started out like any other night.
Almost, but not quite, and better, actually, because he awoke to find Sara sleeping soundly on her side, one arm flung across his chest, the other crooked under her head. Her deep, even breaths were making little warm circles on his neck and her mouth was parted, just a bit.
It was like awaking to find an unexpected gift.
Sara never slept. Well, she slept, of course, but not well and not often and not for very long, usually.
His Sara was always in motion, always moving towards something or away from something.
But she was sleeping now.
He could count on one hand the number of times he'd been able to do this, just lie still and watch her…sleep.
Because he knew it wouldn't last, because the gift would soon stir and come to life, shake off its wrappings, his eyes raked in her appearance, filing every detail away for later.
The dark, sensuous sweep of her brows and lashes against pale, pale skin.
The jut of her shoulder above the white sheet.
The impossible curve of her neck.
The sweet swell of her breasts.
Laugh lines, frown lines, life lines, framing her eyes, her mouth.
Lips, relaxed in sleep, soft and sacred.
He was in the middle of memorizing the exact number and placement of her freckles when she opened her eyes.
"Hello," she said.
"Hello," he said.
"You were watching me," she said.
A soft rosy blush crept into her cheeks. She smirked.
"Sweet. Kind of."
She propped herself up on her elbow, kissed him, somewhere between soft and hard.
He felt like crying.
"You're so … beautiful," he said.
She blushed more. She kissed him again.
"You're in a funny mood," she said.
"That okay?" he said, his finger mapping a line from her forehead, over her nose, her lips, down to her chin.
This is going to be a good night, he thought.
And it was.
It was probably one of the last good nights they had, he realized much later, after it was too late to do anything but realize and remember. He thought about those few lovely, fleeting moments before and after she awoke and caught him watching her for a long time because for a long time he needed to remember them.
Later he needed very badly to remember the last time he felt truly happy.
He noticed the little things first, maybe because he didn't want to notice the big things.
Little things like how she turned away now, ever so slightly, when she was getting dressed or undressed.
How the contents of his bottle of scotch, the one she bought him for Christmas, was going down, gradually but steadily. He didn't smell it on her, but he didn't go looking for it and he sure wasn't drinking it.
How she went to bed before him, was sleeping when he joined her, and awoke, panicked, sweating, incoherent, hours later.
How when he moved to comfort her she shrugged him off and went right back to sleep. Or, so it seemed.
How when he asked her about it later she didn't seem to remember. And he believed her.
How she was tired, all the time.
How she picked at her food.
How she picked at him.
He noticed all these little things, but didn't ask her about them and she didn't talk about them and so they just sat there, like an uninvited guest or a distant relative, perhaps, that just showed up one night and was sitting there, large and unattractive and uninvited on their living room couch.
And how they didn't talk about it.
The scene's been cleared, the police officer had said.
Cleared. As in, no one is here.
Sara and Nick made their way through the dimly lit rooms, slowly, carefully.
There was evidence here, Sara told herself, evidence waiting to be unearthed. Evidence that would help convict the guilty, and vindicate the innocent, the wronged.
A woman and her unborn baby were dead.
Remember, and remember to focus.
"You take these rooms," Nick said, indicating the kitchen and attached dining room. "I'll do the family room."
Sara nodded in agreement, then set to work. She was speaking less and less these days, preferring instead to rely on body gestures, nods and hand movements, grunts and facial expressions, a mouth smirked, an eyebrow raised and lowered.
Everything was fine. She worked steadily, methodically, gathered the evidence needed.
Everything was fine.
"Hey!" she shouted, jumping up, knocking her case, vials and tools and powder spilling, flying. "Hey!"
Nick came running, flushed and frowning.
"What is it?"
She was staring at the shadowed, recessed hallway, eyes bright and blazing.
She kicked her spilled tools out of the way, straining towards the hallway.
"What is it?" Nick asked again.
"I saw her," she whispered hoarsely.
"Who?" Nick took her arm. She yanked it away.
"I saw her. Right there."
Nick turned and peered into the shadows. "You saw who, Sara? Is someone here?"
He started forward but she pulled him back, hard.
"I saw her."
Nick looked at her, hard. He spoke slowly, trying to understand.
"You saw who?"
Nick paused, unsure.
She nodded violently and he suddenly looked harder, wanting to see her, wanting it to be true, because the alternative was just too upsetting.
"Yes. Right there."
He looked. Nothing.
Nothing. No one.
"Sara…Natalie's in jail. She's…not here."
Sara turned large eyes on him.
Later, much later, when he was alone and Sara was gone, Nick thought of the word haunted.
She only looked at him, fleetingly, then looked away again. She shook her head and smiled a little.
"That's what you think."
One quiet, sunny morning as she stood at the kitchen counter making tea he walked up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder, as he had so many times before. He was going to lean forward to kiss the top of her head but as soon as his hand brushed the fabric of her shirt she jumped and yelled out.
The mug tipped, hot amber liquid spilling, pooling, splashing over the side of the counter to the floor.
"Jesus, Grissom," she was practically shouting at him and he could see all the colour had drained from her face.
"What is it?" he pulled his hand away, confused, concerned. Had he hurt her somehow?
They stood staring at one another in the very quiet kitchen on a perfectly normal sunny morning as the tea puddled at their feet. Grissom could hear it dripping and it sounded absurdly loud to his ears. Everything, everything seemed suddenly absurd right then.
What's happening? he thought. What's happening to us?
Plop, plop, plop.
"You scared me. What do you think?" She was trembling. She was actually trembling and he moved to comfort her but she backed away.
She backed away.
She seemed to realized then what she'd done then and she attempted to smile and gloss it over and she let him hold her for a moment then and they even laughed about it a little as he helped her clean up.
But, she'd backed away.
That's when he stopped noticing the little things and started noticing the big things.
She hadn't touched him, voluntarily, in weeks.
Days had turned into weeks, he realized. There was the night they'd lain together and he'd watched her sleep and then she awoke, and then she'd smiled at him and kissed him, and then they'd showered and…
And that was the last time.
She hadn't taken his hand or brushed his hair back and slid her arm across his chest while they slept.
She also hadn't struck up a conversation with him about, well, anything. In weeks. She talked enough, he supposed, when he talked to her. Well, she answered any questions he posed. She responded with the correct responses when he rambled on about this or that.
She appeared normal enough.
To someone who didn't know her, maybe.
To someone who didn't love her.
More than he loved himself.
Amy F. Kessler, 34, Caucasian, slender build, blond hair, blue eyes.
Nothing. Not so much as a speeding ticket.
Amy kidnapped a woman named Tara Graves, allegedly. Tara was having an affair with Amy's husband Brad, allegedly. Amy drugged Tara as she came out of her apartment building, shoved her in the trunk of her car, drove her to an abandoned warehouse and dumped her there, under cover of darkness, under the stars, under the moon.
Tara was pregnant.
Tara and her baby died.
Amy, seated comfortably at the interrogation room table, had wide pale eyes and long, pale hair. Sara took one look at her and knew she'd done it. She knew it.
She just had to get her to admit it.
Brass glanced over at Sara, at her clenched hands and clenched jaw, at her angry eyes and taut posture, then began the spiel the two of them had practiced beforehand.
Evidence. It was all about the evidence. Always.
Follow the evidence. It will lead you, logically, to a logical conclusion.
The right conclusion.
Sara was tired of being logical.
Sara was fucking tired of evidence, of fingerprints and epithelials, of infinitesimal bits of this and that, strings and fluff, spit and semen. Of little tiny things that usually added up to nothing at all, when it all came down in the end.
She was kind of fucking tired of a lot of things.
She knew what she knew. And she knew that Amy, despite her desperate alibi, despite her feeble excuses and her paler than pale, shifty eyes, had ambushed Tara as she'd left her apartment that night, drugged her, thrown her in the trunk, driven for miles and miles and left her for dead.
Like so much garbage.
Pay attention now.
Brass. Brass was done speaking. He had laid it all out for her, the empty syringe with Amy's fingerprints on it. Tara's cell phone, found on the floor of her apartment garage, open, ready to dial to Brad, Amy's husband.
Fingernail gouges on the underside of Amy's car trunk.
A match to Tara's DNA.
And so on.
Amy just stared at them, like they were a couple of morons and she was the smart one, the one with the power, the one who was going to win in the end.
Because her kind always won, in the end.
Sara took a deep breath. She took a deep breath and slammed the palms of her hands down on the table.
"You kidnapped Tara," she said, more calmly than she felt. She pushed her hands down hard on the table because they were trembling and she didn't want Amy to see that. Trembling was a weakness. And weakness was…well, weak.
"I did not."
"You did. You did, you bitch. You waited in the shadows until she came out of her apartment, you jumped her with a syringe filled with Phenobarbital and you shoved her in the trunk of your car."
Brass glanced over nervously. This wasn't what they had rehearsed.
"Sara…" he murmured. She ignored him. He didn't know. He had no fucking clue, really.
"I didn't do any of that," Amy said calmly, her pale eyes riveted on Sara's. "And I don't appreciate the tone you're taking with me. Bitch."
Sara rose then, halfway out of her chair, without even realizing her legs had pushed her up.
That was happening to her a lot lately.
"Is that the kind of person you are?" Sara leaned across the table, hands finding Amy's shirt, grabbing it, bunching it in her fingers, shaking her roughly. "Are you the kind of person who preys on helpless, defenseless people? Are you the kind of person—"
Brass had her then, hands around the tops of her arms, pulling her back, away from Amy who looked both startled and smug.
You're in so much shit, her colourless eyes said to Sara.
You have no idea, Sara's dark eyes said back.
"Sara! Back off. Off!"
She let go then, looked around the room at Amy, at Brass, at the viewing glass where she knew Catherine was watching.
She shook her head, looked down at her hands, seeming surprised that they were still there, attached to the ends of her arms.
Then she found the door and she was gone.
Catherine in the cool, hushed washroom interior, awash in undersea tones of greens and blues. She paused in front of the long mirror, catching sight of her golden reflection for a split second before she moved on.
She stepped carefully, quietly, to the end stall, which was closed.
Click, click, click of her shoes on the blue tile floor.
Tap, tap, tap of her nails on the smooth, green door.
"Sara?" she said softly.
Still no answer.
She leaned back against the wall and sighed.
"That was a little…intense…back there, don't you think? I mean, I'm not sure what was going on, but, uh, you feel like talking about it?"
"Look. We all…lose it, you know? Once in awhile. Totally understandable. There's nothing to feel ashamed about. I mean. She did it, you know? We all know it. She did it and we have the evidence to prove it. So…let's nail her."
Nothing. Not even a breath of air.
"Sara…come on." She banged her hand against the stall door in frustration and it banged open. The sound reverberated metallically around the room and Catherine winced. It hadn't been locked after all.
Sara was crouched beside the toilet, arms around her legs, head on her knees. Catherine stood still, silent, waiting.
Catherine stepped inside the stall, leaned down, touched Sara's shoulder.
Catherine pulled away, stood up.
"Don't touch me. Please."
"Sara. Hello. Come in." Ecklie half stood and motioned to the chair in front of his desk.
"We meet again," Sara said, smiling. She felt oddly calm and oddly jovial. It was the end of something, she realized, as she sat, leaned back, and smiled. The end.
"Water?" he asked, motioning to the bottle on his desk. Sara shook her head. She just wanted to get it all over with, once and for all. "Okay. Okay then."
He pushed the tips of his fingers together. Sara felt suddenly sorry for him. Imagine being him, she thought. Just imagine.
"Okay." He tried again. "I've been hearing some…things about you. Things that give me some cause for concern."
Sara nodded congenially. "I bet," she said.
Ecklie paused, studying her. "Okay. Well. Are they true?"
"What I've heard…are you…having trouble? At work?"
She nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, I am, actually."
"Oh." Ecklie leaned back, pushed his fingertips together again. "Well. Okay. Good. I mean, good for you to admit it. What can we do to make it better?"
She smiled warmly.
He pursed his lips. "Do…do you need some time off? More time, I mean?"
She considered this. "Yeah. I might."
She stood up then, stuck out her hand. He stuck out his and she shook it firmly.
"Thanks, Ecklie. I appreciate your concern. And I just might take you up on that offer."
"You got a minute?" She rapped, quickly and confidently, then was in his office before he could either deny or affirm her request. She stood in front of his desk, feet firmly planted, rubbed the back of her neck and wondered how to broach the subject. He watched her, wondering what he had done this time.
He sighed, inaudibly.
"What is it?" he said, finally.
"Look, Gil." Catherine was a woman who knew what she wanted and how to go about getting what she wanted. Most of the time. "It's…Sara."
He said nothing, but watched her, still. There were so many things she could say. Which would she choose?
"Gil…she needs some help."
"She's getting help."
"What kind of help?"
"She's…she's supposed to be…writing. And she's talking to someone, once a week."
Lies, he realized. All lies. She had seen the counselor exactly once and pronounced him both an "idiot" and a "fool" and someone who apparently "didn't know his ass from a hole in the ground."
Catherine laughed a little, put her hands on her hips, looked straight at him. "It's not working."
"She's been through a lot, Catherine."
"Yes! Exactly. Which is why I'm saying—"
"She just needs time."
"She needs more than time, Gil."
"What are you suggesting?"
"I don't know…I just know…she needs something."
Grissom threw his pen down. "Fine. Great. Very helpful, really."
"I'm trying to be helpful," Catherine approached his desk, leaned against it, held up her hands in surrender. "Why is it that everyone can see what's going on but you?"
He took a quick, steadying breath, ready to reply with a thousand words, a hundred sentences, but then he stopped.
There was no point, really.
Because not everyone was in love with her.
She was sitting on the front steps of the townhouse when he got home, elbows on knees, hands cupping her face, and she started speaking even before he said a word.
"I'm having some…trouble." She said it very quietly, then again, louder and more forcefully, as if trying to convince herself, too. "I'm having some trouble."
He stood in front of her, looking down, and she looked very small sitting there, so he sat next to her.
He didn't touch her, though.
"What do you mean?"
"I can't sleep."
"I know." He paused. "I mean…you've always had…trouble with that. Sleeping."
She continued as if she hadn't even heard him.
"I can't eat."
He looked at her, wondered if he'd noticed that. She usually had a great appetite and enjoyed food, meatless though it was. She'd been eating all right.
"Sometimes…sometimes I can't even… breathe."
Breathing. Breathing was important.
"Sara…" He reached for her and she…flinched.
She shook her head, even though he hadn't asked her anything.
"Please…please don't make it hard."
His heart stopped.
"Make what hard?"
"What?" He was confused. He felt stupid. And very scared, all of a sudden.
"Of this…all of this. I'm afraid…all the time."
"Sara…what are you afraid of?"
She never did tell him, he realized much, much later.
"I need room…to breathe."
He rubbed his mouth. He was suddenly very thirsty. There was no more saliva in his mouth.
"I need to…go home."
He licked his lips. He'd pay good money for a bottle of water right now.
"You are home."
She took her hands away and looked at him, or almost at him. He realized she never really looked at him anymore.
Another big thing.
"My home. My…apartment."
He stood up.
She looked up at him. "Where are you going?"
"Inside. To get some water."
She frowned. "Did you hear what I said?"
"Yes. I heard you." He moved to the front door calmly, carefully. "I heard you fine. I'm just really thirsty."
She next morning she came home four hours after shift ended, as if she'd been debating for four hours whether to come home at all.
He lay on his side in bed listening to her move quietly around the townhouse, performing her usual post-work routines.
Except none of it was routine at all.
Finally, finally, she came into the bedroom and slid into bed. He felt the familiar weight of her body pull on the mattress, tug at his body. He sighed and closed his eyes.
She was home, at least. She was here.
This time he didn't try to touch her at all.
Funny how all the little things added up eventually to one great big thing.
Books, gone. Some of her CDs. A favourite movie.
A blue sweater.
She wasn't just moving back home.
She was moving away.
She was always in motion, his Sara. Always.
He finally noticed that this time her motion was leading her further and further away from him.
The next morning she didn't come home at all.
He knew, on some level, that she wouldn't, that she'd already made up her mind, but coming home to find her not there and waiting for her and her not coming at all, well.
He wondered if it was possible to feel one's heart break.
He called her, just to…call her.
"I'm just…lying here. It feels so strange, to be back here."
"It feels stranger to be here…without you," he said quietly.
She didn't say anything for a moment. It was very, very quiet until he heard her hitching gasps. She was crying.
"Sara," he said. "Honey. Please."
"I'm…sorry," she gasped out.
"Let me…let me…" What? Take care of you? Hold you? Talk to you? Make it all better? "Help you."
"You can't," she whispered. "You can't."
It was possible, he realized then, to feel one's heart break.
It felt like a snap, a pop, a great, wrenching pain.
It felt like he just might die from the pain.
He had to ask.
"Are we…breaking up?"
"I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. Maybe, okay?"
He nodded but of course it wasn't okay. It wasn't okay and nothing was okay because he was a middle-aged man with an empty bed and three dying house plants, a freezer full of veggie burgers and a terribly, horribly, painfully broken heart.
She was gone for eleven days before he began to entertain the notion that she may not be coming back.
He'd left her alone, as she'd asked. He called just to say hi, to see how she was doing, as any good friend might.
She responded in kind, was polite but not very forthcoming.
He went to work, and she went to work and sometimes they worked together and sometimes the didn't, as colleagues do.
He watched every move she made, drinking her in like a man who had wandered the desert alone for eleven days and finally happened upon a shimmering mirage.
She was his mirage, he supposed. His own personal mirage: Achingly beautiful and excruciatingly ephemeral.
Romeo and Juliet.
Star crossed lovers and we all know what happened to them.
Orpheus and Eurydice.
Only feet away from the light Orpheus lost faith and turned around. He saw Eurydice, but only for a moment as her shade was whisked back down among the other dead souls. She was gone.
Dracula and Mina.
Dracula waited through time to be with her again, only to give her up rather than doom her to a life of dark hunting.
Samson and Delilah.
Samson may have defeated the Philistines, but it was his love and trust of Delilah that led him to his doom.
Arthur and Gwenevere.
He loved Gwenevere so much that he released her gently from her torment.
Antony and Cleopatra.
Although Antony's passion for Cleopatra seems all-consuming, there remains in him a spark of propriety, responsibility, duty.
Heloise and Abelard.
You know, beloved, as the whole world knows, how much I have lost in you.
Tristram and Isolde.
He died of grief before Isolde could reach him.
This is what he did when he couldn't sleep, which was pretty much all the time these days.
Did any couples ever end up together?
Goddammit, true love was depressing.
It all came to an end, of sorts, on a Wednesday evening, just before shift began. Grissom had been waiting for it, waiting for some Sign, he realized, and he found it hidden in a pile of paperwork he'd been avoiding, just waiting to be unearthed by an unsuspecting supervisor.
That unsuspecting supervisor being him, it seemed.
He sat staring at it for a full five minutes, trying desperately to process the meaning behind the cold formality of the words, when he sensed her presence in his doorway. He looked up and made a strange sound in the back of his throat.
Not with a bang, but a whimper.
He tried again.
"What is this?" he asked, waving the slip in the air, knowing all too well what it was. They'd been here before. This time it felt different. This time it felt something like a death sentence clutched between his fingers. "I don't understand. You couldn't have told me yourself?"
"I am telling you."
"You know what I mean."
She just stared at him. Then she looked away. Then she looked back.
"It's a request for some time off."
"So. Now you know."
"What?" She crossed her arms. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't fill his lungs properly. Breathe, he commanded. Breathing was important.
"Where are you going?"
"Home," she said, and for just a second he had some hope. Home. Maybe she just meant her apartment again. But he knew she didn't. Of course that's not what she really meant.
She crossed her arms tighter.
"I'm going home. To San Francisco."
She could have kicked him in the stomach with one of her big boots and it wouldn't have hurt more. He just stared at her.
How to respond to that? He could not.
"There's this woman…Stella…she was my counselor for about a year after…" She gathered her strength, he could actually see her do it. "…after my Mom murdered my Dad, you know?" She squinted at him like the lights in his office were too bright, but they weren't. It was actually so dim he was having a hard time seeing her clearly. "She…helped me a lot. We stayed in touch. We stayed in touch all these years. She's retired now, but I've been e-mailing her. She knows all about The Gir-- I Natalie /I , and what I've been going through. She thinks I need help. She's offered to help. I'm going to stay with her for awhile."
Grissom continued to watch her, hoping to, maybe, physically imprint her very image on his corneas, so every time he closed his eyes he could see her.
He couldn't believe this was happening.
"Awhile," he repeated dumbly.
"What does that mean?"
"It means I need someone to talk to," she said and he could hear the quiet desperation making her voice quaver.
You can talk to me, he thought. You can.
"I can't talk to you," she said because she knew he was thinking it, and hating her, a little bit, for it. "I try, but I can't. I can't. I need…someone…impartial."
"We have good people here…counselors…you can stay here and talk to someone… here." Even he could hear the quiet desperation in his voice. He thought he might be sick, right here in his office, in front of her.
She paused in the doorway, already a thousand miles away. She might have had tears in her eyes, but she wouldn't look right at him, so he couldn't tell for sure. She took a deep, wavering breath.
She shook her head and he knew then it was over, done. She was leaving and she wasn't going to stay and even a plant with a heartfelt sentiment wasn't going to fix this mess.
She said something very quietly then, but he heard it, and he held onto it with all his might like a drowning man going down for months after.
"I'll miss you."