The End…The Beginning
AN: This is my take on how the exit should happen. There are spoilers for "The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp". Thank you so much to Mingsmommy and Smacky30 for their incredible beta abilities. Disclaimer: I don't own CSI.
"What?" Gil Grissom was dumbfounded. Very few things could leave him speechless, but his girlfriend had just accomplished this. He searched her eyes, looking for…something.
She was lying next to him; her arm bent under her pillow, her hand supporting her head while her other arm carefully rested on her hip. She searched his face, trying to gauge his reaction.
His body mirrored hers until he pulled himself up to lean his back against the headboard. "Sara, I don't know what to say. I wasn't exactly expecting this conversation tonight." He was lost in chartered territory. Worried he'd say the wrong thing, he remained silent.
She used her good arm to push herself up and faced him once again. "What do you think about it?" She sat patiently knowing that now was not the time to push, the grin she was trying to conceal told him how she felt. She looked to the window where the morning sun filtered through the blinds, giving a sheen to the navy bedding that was gathered around their feet.
"A baby?" Had he heard right?
"Not necessarily." Sara shook her head slowly. "Maybe an older child." She took his hand in hers. "It's just a thought, but the more I think about it, the more I want to do this." She began tracing circles over the back of his hand with her thumb. "I know firsthand how hard it is to find quality foster parents." Her hand stilled. "Gil, there are some bad ones out there." Her eyes captured his, and raw emotion flickered behind her gaze. "We could make a difference. How many cases have we worked that involved a child in a bad situation? Think about it." She implored him, "We could be the good situation some kid out there needs."
"Honey, I know what you are saying…"
"But, I think we should think about it before we jump into anything."
Sara bit her lip, "Fair enough." It wasn't exactly the outcome she wanted, but he was willing to think about it so she figured it was time to move on, for now. She had learned over the years that Grissom was not to be rushed. "Hungry?" She swung her legs over the edge of the bed then waited for him to follow her to the kitchen.
He watched her saunter to the coffee pot, enjoying the view left by her bare legs meeting the hem of her worn Harvard shirt. On one hand he ached to give Sara everything she wanted and more, but on the other was it fair to punish a child because the two of them hadn't thought this through. "Would we need to be married? I mean if we do this?"
Sara turned on the coffee pot. "I thought you wanted to take some time to think?"
Gil moved some things around in the refrigerator before pulling out the carton of eggs. "I'm thinking out loud."
Sara pushed the lever on the toaster. "Well, think away."
"Alright." The eggs began to crackle in the pan. "We work long hours, how is that going to benefit a child? When we're pulling doubles who's going to make them breakfast, tuck them in, or make sure their homework is done?"
Sara's eyes fell to the floor, she felt guilty keeping this from him. "I will."
He chuckled, "How?"
"I…I'm thinking about an extended leave of absence. Or maybe quitting." She braced herself, unsure of the reaction to come.
"Sara, why?" He searched her face. "You love this job. It was your life a few years ago." He shook his head in disbelief, "I don't understand why you'd suddenly want to leave?"
"A few years ago it was the only time I got to spend with you." She paused. "There was a time I loved my job, putting away the bad guy gave me such a rush." She shook her head and smirked. "I just…I don't know if I still have the…drive I once had. Too many changes, and none of them good." She took a shaky breath. "Gil, I don't like swing shift. It's not a team like the night shift. I miss that."
"I told you I'd take the schedule change." He plated the eggs and moved to stand face to face with her, taking her un-casted hand in his. "I'm still willing." His offer was sincere.
"Then everybody loses you. I'm still not willing to do that, not to them." She licked her lips. The action wasn't lost on Gil.
"Sara? That's not all…Is it?" He backed away slightly to get a better look at her.
"No." Her head shook as she said it. "I have no regrets, you have to believe that." Her arms wrapped around her waist defensively.
"Honey?" Her sudden actions made him more worried of what was to come next.
"I don't regret it, really I don't" She needed him to know this because the words alone might hurt.
"No regrets about what?" He waited for her to continue.
"I've topped out with the lab. I'll never be promoted, and who knows what kind of recommendation I'd get depending on who's contacted by a possible future employer." At his confused look she continued. "Again, no regrets, but as far as many people know, or care to know, I slept my way to my position."
"Sara, you know that's not true," His tone was earnestly sincere.
"Yes I do, but truth doesn't always matter." He ran her hand through her hair, "Sometimes it's the perception of truth that matters more."
"It's not like you to give up."
Her face softened, "I don't see it as giving up. I'm moving on, ready for a new challenge."
He reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear and nodded his understanding. They stood there staring into the other's eyes for a moment before Gil let out a long breath, raised his eyebrow, and said, "Let's eat."
After breakfast, they spent the morning following Gil's night off getting Sara's cast removed. She finally felt almost whole again. He noticed the change immediately, her smile was brighter, and she became more affectionate, which he was personally grateful for. They spent the early afternoon hours eating Chinese food in bed. He couldn't have been happier, and the best part was he no longer had to lock this part of himself away when the call to a crime scene came. Which it did, just as things started to heat up again.
Gil went to his new scene and Sara got a call of her own, so they vowed to meet up at some point over the next twenty-four hours.
When a free moment came up, Sara suited up to join Gil and his new friends.
He heard the gate rattle when she opened it. "Oh I love it when you dress up."
She giggled, only he could make her giggle. "Well, you know, whatever it takes to get some time with you."
She asked about the colony, knowing it was his latest passion. He eagerly shared, wanting her to be a part of it. As he spoke, he saw the interest she had in everything he had to say. It reminded him of nine years before when they first met. No one else was as full of questions as one Sara Sidle. He'd been thinking a lot since their conversation, and when push came to shove, he couldn't think of one good reason not to support Sara's interests and desires, especially when she always supported his.
"You know maybe we shouldget married." He knew she would understand what wasn't said.
Sara wasn't anticipating that and when she jumped slightly, the bee crawling along her hand stung her. Grissom was quick to offer assistance. He started saying something else, but she didn't quite hear it, all she heard were the words trying to escape her mouth. She met his eyes, "Yes, let's do it." She knew they had set in motion changes that would take their lives in a new direction.
They spent the next few months filling out all of the forms required. The interrogation by Ecklie, after he had found out about their relationship, was nothing compared to the interviews and questioning Child Services put them through.
One morning Grissom came home to find Sara standing in the doorway of one of the two guestrooms in their house. He silently walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her waist while kissing her neck.
She melted into the warmth his embrace brought. "What would you say to a little redecoration?" She interlaced her fingers with his.
"What did you have in mind?" He kissed her lips this time.
"Well, these rooms aren't really kid friendly." She licked her lips, "They need to be more… inviting.
"Why don't we wait until we know we've been approved?" He wasn't saying 'no', but also was worried about what would happen if it didn't work out for them.
She turned in his arms with a big grin on her face, "We've been approved."
Gil was genuinely happy at Sara's news. When the idea first came up, he went along with it more for her benefit, but as they progressed through the red tape, his own excitement began to take hold. "Well then, let's go shopping."
"Now?" He nodded, "Let's go." The smile stayed on Sara's face for the rest of the afternoon, and with every purchase made, it only grew. At the end of the afternoon they had a new bed, desk, dresser, and book shelf for each of the rooms.
When they both had the same Saturday off work, they made a reservation at one of the less offending Vegas Wedding Chapels. The ceremony was simple and sweet, and meaningful to both of them. They exchanged rings and kisses before going to their private reception in a bridal suite at the Bellagio where they ordered room service, enjoyed their view, and only utilized a handful of amenities.
In the morning, reality came barging in when Sara was called in early due to a break in one of her cases. Grissom finished packing their suitcases and checked out before going to the lab a little early. After all, his reason for going home was now at work.
On a few occasions they saw each other in the hall and exchanged knowing glances, but other than that they went on as if it were any other day. When the rest of the night shift arrived, Grissom called everyone, including his bride, to his office. The last thing he wanted was a repeat of Catherine's reaction to Warrick's sudden marriage. He still couldn't understand why she had taken it so personally. Sara had mentioned that there was chemistry between Warrick and Catherine, but he had never noticed it.
Hanging back, Sara leaned against the door of her husband's office. She'd spent the last seven years getting to know the people in this room, but she suddenly felt awkward. Since her abduction, she'd seen them multiple times outside the lab, but in this room it no longer felt right. In an odd sort of way, it made her feel better about her decision to leave. She loved these people, but not the place anymore.
"Hey Sara, how's swing shift treating you?" Greg brought her out of her thoughts.
"Doesn't matter anymore Greg." She crossed her arms in front of her and looked to her husband.
"What? You coming back to nights?" Nick eagerly turned in his chair.
"No, she's not." Grissom smiled. "That would still go against lab policy."
"That didn't stop you before," Catherine teased.
"Before, we weren't married," Grissom deadpanned.
The room became silent, but as realization set in they were greeted with smiles, hugs, and handshakes as echoes of congratulations rang out.
When the activity died down, Catherine asked, "How did Ecklie take the news?"
"Doesn't matter. Friday is my last day." She scanned the faces before her and saw confusion, and sorrow. "It's a good thing, and it's my choice. I'm moving on." Shock was still evident. "Really, this is what I want." She walked over to join Gil behind his desk; he immediately wrapped his arm around her waist. "We've signed up to be foster parents, and working sixty plus hours a week just wouldn't work."
"We're happy for you Sara." Warrick smiled. "I never thought I'd see the day: Sara Sidle as somebody's mother." This elicited giggles and snorts from the others.
Catherine stepped up and wrapped an arm around Sara's shoulders, "Oh, I think she'll be just fine." Catherine let go of Sara and moved to Grissom. Patting his back she continued, "And if she's not, she's got the bugman here to back her up." She leaned in and whispered in his ear, "You've got my number, right?"
"Funny Catherine," Gil shook his head.
The others added their agreement before Sara left for the night. Only five more days she thought as we made her way through the parking lot. Her mind went back over the last few months, at how much her life had changed, and was still evolving. She was both eager and nervous, as was her husband.
Grissom finished handing out assignments, but before leaving himself, he sat back in his chair. Pulling open the top desk drawer, he smiled as he picked up a silver picture frame. In it was a picture he had snapped of Sara on the beach from when he had introduced her to his mother. He was so happy that the two had met before his mother passed.
He set the frame on the left side of his desk, admiring it for a moment, thinking about all of the changes that had taken place and all of the changes to come. At some point in the near future he would be getting off work and going home to have breakfast with his family.