Title: Feeling Colors
Summary: A particularly draining case causes Grissom to discover one of Sara's quirks.
Author's notes: this story is one of several CSI fanfics that I wrote going back as far as 2002, and doesn't reflect my current appreciation for the show, nor the G/S relationship dynamic. :) I'm just re-uploading old writings.
She looked removed.
She looked calm.
Grissom doubted that she was either.
His suspicions are now confirmed, as she turns her back to the crime scene and shakily exits from the room without warning or explanation.
He stands up from his previously hunched over position, and jogs after her following a quick, meaningful look in Catherine's direction, and a muttered, "I apologize", to Mobley.
Pushing open the somewhat rusted and paint battered door that lead to Intertec's emergency exit, he purposefully enters the stairwell.
She's lucky that the door wasn't alarmed. What is she thinking?
The lights within the shaft are a throbbing blue, and he winces as the contrast from the previously darkened scene produces an intense rush of optic pain.
He can now hear the thumping of feet against concrete steps.
Sara is actually running – quickly - down the stairwell.
Sighing, he balances his mass against the outer wall railing, and tentatively makes his way after her, cringing each time he rounds a bend and is rewarded with another blast of the horrendous cerulean glow.
Upon reaching the bottom level, he realizes that Sara must have exited the building.
He glances through the milky observation glass and catches a glimpse of her figure wandering towards the boulevard.
She almost feels his presence, rather than hear him approach, and replies before he can get the first word out.
"I need a moment".
It sounds scripted.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine", she utters in a sotto voice.
Walking the remaining distance towards where she now sits, he crouches down to mirror her seated position.
She turns from him slightly, but not before he sees a flash of sanguine liquid glistening on her fingers. It almost looks like spilled cough syrup.
Hopping up from the curb, he reaches out with his hands and tenderly rolls up the cuff on her denim jeans.
She remains silent, and he winces when he sees the swollen, indigo bruise that had consumed a good quarter of her leg.
"This just happened?" he mutters.
A nod, and then, "I tripped coming down the stairs."
The pair lapses once more into silence for a moment, before:
"Have you given any thought as to what I said? About finding a diversion?"
"I…I… I'm going to clean up and get back to the scene. I'm sorry I left at all."
Patient look, but he can feel himself becoming frustrated with her.
"Sara, I don't want you to feel badly for leaving the scene. I don't want you to feel badly over what you see at a crime scene."
"Grissom", her voice holds a warning.
"No. Don't cut me off. I'm not going to lecture you. I just… I just want to know if you are taking what I said to heart."
"We have to get back…"
He feels his jaw clench.
She could be so stubborn on occasion.
"We are basically done with the processing. Catherine and Warrick can easily handle the transport. In fact, we are practically done with this scene altogether and shift ends in," he glances down to check his digital Ironman watch, "25 minutes."
He lets that sink in, and forces himself to cease gazing at her. She is uncomfortable as it is.
Instead, he glances up at the prominent skyline. The early morning mist fogs the tops of the highest buildings and skyscrapers. His eyes drop to the ground, to the streets, and to the area around where the two CSI's now quietly sit.
To their left snakes a brick pathway. It leads from the back of the office to insanely green turf - property of Intertec Inc.
To their right hovers several old fashioned street lamps with ornate, curlicue iron bases.
They seem out of place in the flashy, polished city of Las Vegas, as if they had been transplanted from a gray and drizzly London street.
The greenish-yellow orbs glow dully. He feels a shiver go up his spine, with the realization that the light flooding through the lamps would soon stop as the late evening passed into early morning.
There would be a time of consumption - a period when their service and purpose would no longer be needed.
They reminded him of a life battling against time. A being that kept struggling to live - to do what came naturally - but that, sooner or later, would be replaced by something lauded for its newness.
How can I appreciate the beauty in the glint of light, or the resulting pattern on a coleus leaf, but remain so hardened in other ways?
Hating the morbid direction that his thoughts had taken, he turns to Sara to see a scene that is almost as equally gloomy.
The injured leg had begun to clot, but the swelling had only increased, and he shakes his head when he sees her blotting up the seeping blood with the arm of her shirt.
"Were you aware that yellow was the color of evil in ancient Mongolia?"
Sara looks up at him in confusion.
"And you are telling me this…why?"
He indirectly answers her next question with more rambling.
"Anthropologists believe that the reason for this had to do not so much with the colour itself, but with the significance that yellow played in their lives."
"It signaled infection. Imagine a cold region, arid and expansive. Think of what must have affected residents frequently. Gangrene…amputations? And in ancient times, before medical knowledge had advanced to where it is today, infections could easily mark the beginning of the end. It often heralded death."
He pauses for a moment, before adding, "You should really see a doctor about your leg, Sara."
She stares up at him for a second, her features screwing up in a look of grim understanding.
"You think my leg is going to get infected?"
"No. But I don't think that cleaning up an injury with the clothing that you were injured IN, is sanitary."
She bites her lip to keep from responding sarcastically and then attempts to change the focus of the conversation.
"Sometimes…sometimes I think I can feel colors", it's a completely out-of-the-blue statement.
His head cocks to the side and for a moment, she is reminded of a Snowy Owl. Sara feels a smile tug at the corners of her mouth.
"No. I'm serious! When I was little I could kind of taste smells and when I got older I could see colors when I listened to music."
Grissom nods slowly, his expression distant, "There is a condition known as synaesthesia. It sounds very similar to what you are describing. Synaesthesists tend to experience a sensation that seems almost nonsensical for the experience as a whole. They will 'taste' sights, for example."
Sara looks up at him with fascination. "There is a name for it?" she breathes.
"What have you experienced?" he asks with fresh interest.
"Oh…well, let me think…" a slight pause, "Well once, my mum and Dad and me went to this Italian restaurant when I was six. Lauren got an Italian coke, and I got one of those flavored Italian sodas - mine was supposed to taste like almonds. But all I could taste were cigarettes."
"Cigarettes? How did that taste?" – humor laced in his voice.
"Oh god! They were disgusting! And then, when I was a little older… I ended up getting ill over a root beer. To everyone else, it was just a root beer, but to me - it tasted like Phenol toilet bowl cleaner."
Grissom actually laughs at that, while Sara glares at him. "It wasn't funny Griss! I was ill for two days."
She takes a breath, but presses on. "It started when I was really little, like preschool age, perhaps. Certain numbers would be 'colourful', and it got to the point where I experimented with 'division' in Kindergarten by mixing paints. Three was always pink. The pink of a newborn piglet. Fleshy. Warm. Comforting. Eight was purple. It had its own feel, and own movement."
Grissom now sits and watches her with rapt attention.
"Sometimes… I think I feel like that even now. Some cases can make me sick Griss, and I don't know why…but…" her voice breaks as she tries to explain her complicated thoughts and feelings to a man that she had once accused of being unfeeling.
It is a hard thing to do.
"You'd argue that I empathize with the victims, or that something I've experienced in my past is clouding my judgments or stirring up my emotions."
She ignores him, and finishes her monologue:
"But sometimes, I just stare into their lifeless eyes, and I don't see them anymore. I see these marbled spheres, and I know that I should be able to look away. But it's always there. I can physically turn away, but I hear their screams, and I feel these other sensations", she exhales sharply, "today the red was so red - so dark red. It felt like I was sweating this red from my pores - I had to get away. It pounded, you know?"
The scary thing was, he didn't know. He had no clue that she felt as she did - that every case bombarded her with this awareness of self and other to a degree that he found almost frightening.
"You probably think I'm crazy", she whispers.
He does not know how to respond. An instantaneous "no", or "of course not" would definitely not placate her, so he takes a chance.
"Sometimes I catch this flash of light. It shimmers on the bridge of my plants when the sun comes up. I have this croton, a bright and speckled colorful thing - you'd really appreciate it", he pauses and feels somewhat relaxed when he sees Sara smirk, "and the light makes patterns - these crisscrossed patterns - on the skin of the leaf. I can stare at it sometimes, and I start to feel lost. I feel consumed, and it, well it's a distraction. We each experience the world differently, Sara. I'm not going to ridicule you because you feel things intensely - because you are sensitive to the ambience around us."
His statement elicits a small, but genuine smile, and he feels warmth diffuse outwards from his chest and run throughout his extremities.
"The sun is coming up", he notes, and sees Sara turns to look at him with a tearful laugh.
Her reaction was a conglomeration of opposites - of pain but also joy and yet, on this occasion, he understood.