Six Little Things For A Story
by Camilla Sandman

Disclaimer: The characters are the property of CBS. I am just taking them for a non-profit spin.

Author's Note: Spoilers all the way up to season eight premiere. Thanks to mingsmommy for (extremely speedy!) beta.

II

It's the little things, Gil Grissom knows. He's made a life of little things - swirls of fingerprints, sizes of flies, flecks of paint, traces of blood. It's the little things that tell the story.

The big ones just deafen you. He's learned to tune them out, and now he's teaching an auditorium full of upcoming CSIs the same.

Some are bored, he can tell; eyes not really focused, fingers tapping against books, long exhales. Others are trying not to be; shoulders raised a bit too high, more attention on the notes than what he is saying, continued glances at what everyone else is doing. Those actually interested are easiest to spot; gaze following him, exhales when he stops talking, secret smiles when everyone else struggles with Latin names.

And there's those he can't read, and today there's one.

Her gaze is on him, but the way it feels on him it's almost as if she isn't listening to what he's saying, but how he's saying it. Her notebook is open, but she never looks at what she writes, as most students would to make sure it's readable later. She has most of her brown hair tucked behind her ears, but a few strands are loose and she doesn't seem to be bothered. Absent-minded perhaps, or doesn't care. Her expression is serious, but her lips are slightly upturned, as if she is just waiting for a cue.

He finds himself wondering what the cue could be. A joke? A smile from someone else? A dog? A tarantula? A bright sunny day? A compliment? A touch? A vaguely middle-aged entomologist getting his Latin wrong?

Yes.

That one works.

It's a little thing, really. Just a smile.

He still remembers it all the way back to Las Vegas.

II

Details are hard for a jury, Grissom has learned. Perhaps it's the big talk of the lawyers and the DA drowning everything in noise. Perhaps it's the sense of civic duty, not civic honour. Perhaps it's the language, legalese and formality easily confusing those unused to it.

Perhaps people just prefer everything in headlines these days, screamed at them.

Jerrod Cooper killed Holly Gribbs. There's a headline.

He exhales slowly, refusing to feel anger. They will return a guilty verdict. They will. The evidence is good, his CSIs did a good job.

His CSIs. They wouldn't be his if Holly Gribbs hadn't died. They would be Brass'. Catherine, Warrick, Nick. Not Sara. Sara wouldn't even be here.

She's here too, he imagines, waiting same as him for a verdict. She's taken Holly's spot but not Holly's shoes. Sara hasn't tried to fill them, making her mark without doing that.

(He tries not to think about her toes. Metaphors really shouldn't encourage images of naked skin.)

A good thing, Sara Sidle has been. He could feel guilty for enjoying something good come from something bad, but life specializes in those and he'd never get anything else done. He likes her here. Likes her analytical mind, her light flirting, her passion, her eyes glinting in the lab light and her skin near enough to touch.

"Jury found him guilty."

Likes her voice so much he has always recognised it without turning around. Now too. A little thing only, really.

He still refuses to consider what it might mean.

II

A minute is minute, only sixty little seconds, but it can still feel like an eternity.

It's what it takes to be offered a chance with Sara Sidle, imagine it and then turn it down.

"Would you like to have dinner with me?"

Tick. Dinner. Tick. Awkward conversation. Tick. Exchanged smiles. Tick. Her hand brushing his on the way out. Tick. Car; Grissom and Sara kissing against. Tick. No car, the rest the same. Tick. Sex. Tick. Sex. Tick. Breakfast. Tick. Sex. Tick. Forced casual at work. Tick. First time taking her to his house. Tick. Casual but not forced smiles at work. Tick. Bad sex. Tick. Laughing over bad sex. Tick. Kissing. Tick. Shared lunch. Tick. Fight over work. Tick. Good sex. Tick. Excellent sex. Tick. Keys exchanged. Tick. Affectionate names. Tick. Her toothbrush in his bathroom. Tick. Affectionate names at work. Tick. Shared grocery list. Tick. His books on her nightstand. Tick. Fearing for her at work. Tick. Gossip at work. Tick. Getting accused of being overprotective. Tick. Admitting over protectiveness. Tick. Sex. Tick. Whispered exchanged family stories late at night. Tick. Moving in. Tick. Telling Catherine. Tick. Getting advice from Catherine. Tick. Ignoring advice. Tick. Sex. Tick. Fighting about his hearing. Tick. Compromising. Tick. Agreeing to get a pet. Tick. Disagreeing on what pet. Tick. Telling Ecklie. Tick. Consequences. Tick. Day-shift for Sara. Tick. Sex. Tick. Worries. Tick. She sleeping when he gets home. Tick. He's sleeping when she gets home. Tick. Tired sex. Tick. Missing her at work. Tick. Worries over his failing hearing. Tick. Bad murder case. Tick. Fear of losing her. Tick. Sex and reassurances. Tick. Getting her back on his shift. Tick. Fear. Tick. A little desperate sex. Tick. A little crime scene, Grissom and Sara. Tick. Not hearing the suspect coming and only the gunshot drawing his attention...

Fear walks with Sara Sidle. It's decidedly a very little thing, really. Just an emotion.

It still seems to loom in his mind.

II

It doesn't take much to stop a breath. Water. A pillow. Blood. Earth. A human. So little to stop it, so much to make it happen. Lungs. Cells. Heart. Windpipes. Mouth. Every breath is something extraordinary.

He is watching Sara's. He is driving, she is half sleeping. Exhaustion, he imagines. It's been a trying day for them all. Most all of all Nick, now safe in hospital. It could so easily have been otherwise.

It could so easily not have been Nick, too. Could have been Warrick. Catherine. Him. Sara.

Doesn't take a relationship for him to fear for her, he's beginning to learn.

"Sara?" he asks quietly, and she blinks a little tiredly against him. "Would you like to have dinner with me?"

For a moment, she just stares at him, as if not quite making sense of the words. Then she smiles.

"No, Grissom," she says, and he only has a second to feel something, "it's six a.m. Breakfast will have to do."

He's going to kiss her after pancakes, he decides, a strong desire to feel her breath on him filling him. It's a minor thing, really, her chest rising and falling as she breathes. Hardly noticed at all most of the time. Just another bodily function.

He would still miss it painfully if it stopped.

II

There are a million tiny things to notice during sexual intercourse.

The eyes. Closed when he does this, bright when he does that. Bright when she smiles, dark when she clings to him. Meeting his when she tosses her bra off and never seeming to leave his face.

The skin. Tiny hairs can rise, almost tickling the fingertips as touched. A flush can colour and warm it, leaving a faint trace in everything near. Sweat can trickle out, making it almost salty to taste. Tiny veins of blood can be visible if tensed.

The lips. Swollen if subjected to continued kissing. Parted if a touch is just that little bit right. Bitten if overwhelmed. Moving if wanting more. Whispering his name if he seeks them with his own.

The hair. Framing her face when he kisses her, letting him tangle his fingers in it. Unruly against the pillow when she's below him, moving with her as she moves against him. Brushing against her shoulders when she's on top, making him wonder if it tickles. Flowing down her back when she's on her stomach, tickling his chest as he moves over her.

The noise. Whispers. Little gasps. Inaudible words against the pillow. Moans. Shuddered exhales. Big gasps. His name. Oh, his name, said the Sara way.

It's a trivial thing, really. It's not a love declaration. It's just his name, said in a particular way.

It's still enough to take a chance on.

II

A miniature doesn't have to be replicated in larger life, it turns out.

Sara lives.

Part of him wants to crawl up in the bed with her, kiss her eyelids and hold her until they have to sedate him to get him away. But that's just a part. The rest of him is Gil Grissom. He doesn't do that.

He takes her hand instead, watching her eyes focus on him as he sits down beside her bed. Sunburns, cuts and bruises mark her skin and he almost wants to kiss them in gratitude. They mark her as alive.

Sara Sidle. He's liked her, been attracted to her, feared for her, feared her, refused her, protected her, kissed her, slept with her, started to share a life with her. It all adds up.

Gilbert Grissom loves Sara Sidle.

It's a little thing, really.

It's never needed to be big to matter.

FIN