Disclaimer: Same old, same old.

Spoilers: The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp

Rating: K+

Summary: Post-8x04. GSR.

Call Me But Love

I take thee at thy word:
Call me but love, and I'll be new baptiz'd

--William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene 2

"It's on Third Street," he told her as he buckled himself in the passenger's seat. "309 South Third Street. Third floor."

She raised her brows at him. "You've never done this before…have you?"

Grissom laughed his first real laugh since she had said yes to his proposal -- or suggestion, rather -- of marriage. "MapQuest, my dear. We need to stop at an ATM on the way."

"How much is it?" Sara asked as she pulled out of their parking spot.

"Fifty-five dollars for the license, and then fifty for a civil ceremony."

"I probably have enough to cover that," she told him.

He considered her words for a long moment. They also needed rings. Grissom didn't know why, but he was itching to slide a gold band onto her left ring finger and, oddly enough, couldn't wait to put one on himself. He had been fiddling with his own ring finger for hours now, imagining the feel of his wedding band. His wedding band. He'd be one of the married people. The moment anyone met him, they'd know he had love in his life because of the shiny beacon on his left hand.

But he had no idea what gold rings cost. Shit. Ah, well. He'd just charge 'em.

"All right. Go straight ahead to Third Street."

Getting a marriage license was an altogether unromantic process. They got on the end of a long-but-fast-moving line, peopled with other couples about to take the plunge. Huddling close together, they patiently waited for their turn, checking out the wall lined with brochures offering any and all wedding-themed products and services in Clark County.

"I find it disconcerting," Grissom told his wife-to-be, "that there appear to be more Elvis impersonator ministers than entomologists in the state of Nevada."

Sara let out a giggle. "I think you should be more concerned that we live in a state where there's a car dealership that offers a free wedding ceremony when you buy any previously-owed vehicle."

"Why am I not surprised?" he said, rolling his eyes despite the fact that he couldn't stop beaming. At her. At the wall. At the backs of the heads of the couple in front of them.

"Oh my God," Sara exclaimed, picking up a brochure for a motel off the strip. "This place has heart-shaped Jacuzzis."

Grissom frowned. "You don't…want to go there, do you?"

Sara made a face. "Ew. Gross. Any public swimming or bathing apparatus disgusts me. You know that. It'd be like taking a bath with every person who had used the Jacuzzi before us. You know they don't clean those things." She shuddered.

He smiled to himself and scanned the wall of brochures once more. There were more advertisements for themed wedding chapels, helicopter rides over the city at night, quickie honeymoon getaways… "Sara?"

"Hmm?"

"Where do you want to go on our honeymoon?"

She tilted her head to the side. "We get a honeymoon? I thought two days off together was the best we could do."

"For now," he said. "I mean…later. Where do you want to go?"

"Anywhere is cool with me. I'd almost rather stay home with you. I don't get to see you as much now that we work on different shifts," she sighed.

"Sounds good with me," he smiled. He'd get them both two weeks off. Two weeks alone with his wife.

His wife.

They took a few steps forward as the lined moved up. Another brochure caught his eye. The ad for the bridal boutique offered large discounts for repeat customers. Grissom felt his palms go sweaty. He hadn't factored in time to change clothes. His to-do list consisted of three things: get marriage license, get rings, get married. Copious amounts of sex was a given, of course. Out of the corner of his eye, he surveyed Sara's work outfit of slacks and one of her…flowy-ish tops. She looked beautiful to him; she looked like the woman he had been waiting his whole life to marry. But it was quite possible that she had other ideas about her attire. Didn't women put a huge stake in their wedding dress? "H-honey?"

"Hmm?" she hummed, still perusing the brochures intently, picking up several along the way to read while they waited on line.

"Do you want to go home and change?"

"Change?" she asked, looking from the paper in her hands to him. "Do you think I need to?"

"No!" he exclaimed. "No, of course not. You look great. I just wanted to know if we should make another stop before we get to the County Clerk's office."

"Another stop?"

"Yeah. After we buy the rings," he said.

"The rings? So we're doing those, huh?"

He furrowed his brow. "Yeah. Didn't you want to get rings?"

Sara smiled and shrugged. "Sure. Whatever you want," she said, tucking the brochures in her bag as they reached the front of the line.

Identification in hand, they signed the necessary documents so that Gilbert John Grissom and Sara Dawn Sidle could legally get married in the state of Nevada. He clutched the license in his hand as the walked out to the parking lot. "I feel so official now," Sara whispered, squeezing his upper arm for a brief moment. "We're really doing this, huh?"

Grissom wasn't sure if the tone in her voice was wonder or alarm, so he kept his own rather subdued. "Yes. Yes, we are."

The both climbed into the car. Sara put the keys in the ignition and looked at him. "Rings next?"

"Yeah."

"Where did you want to go to buy them? I saw a jewelry store on the way over here. They had a big 'SALE' sign in the window," she suggested as she perched her sunglasses on her nose.

Sale? Grissom pursed his lips. He didn't intend to put some ten karat gold plated discount ring on her finger. "Let's swing by the Bellagio." It boasted the city's only Tiffany's.

He could see the shock register on her face as she pulled out of the parking lot. "Are you sure? It's a little out of our way, Gil."

"I'm sure," he nodded. Sure Tiffany's was overpriced and kind of traditional, but he was sure he'd be able to find a ring there that wouldn't turn Sara's finger green.

"All right," she said, and got onto I-15 South.

Grissom continued to play with his left ring finger while Sara stayed quiet for the entire ride. He was beginning to wonder if she had any regrets. She seemed so elated when she had yes to his impromptu proposal, and she was all smiles at the license bureau as they laughed over the silly brochures. But a lot had happened those past few months. They had gone from secret lovers to the Crime Lab's resident couple. And in between then Sara had been attacked, kidnapped, and left to die in the desert. It was possible doubt was beginning to cloud her mind. Or clear it, as the case may be.

Sara navigated their way through the Bellagio parking garage and quickly found a space by the hotel entrance. They both got out of the car began walking toward the hotel. The voice in Grissom's head echoed loudly in his ears: You're going to buy your wedding rings now. You're going to get married. You're going to have a wife.

He'd be a husband in a matter of hours. A husband. It was a label Grissom never thought he'd have. He never went looking for it; he had never mourned the fact that his peers married off in droves while he remained alone. He never sought his other half. Sara's eventual presence in Vegas made him feel a pang of…something. A hunger for companionship? A need for intimate contact with someone who made him feel like so much more than just the smart guy in the room? She set off a yearning in him that he never quite liked until he gave into it.

Once they were amongst the bustle of the hotel, Grissom located the directory and started walking in the direction of the jewelry store, ushering Sara along his side with a gentle hand on the small of her back. When they came upon Tiffany & Co., she stopped in her tracks. "Gris…we didn't have to come here to get our rings. It really doesn't matter to me where we buy them."

He smiled tightly and pressed on. Grissom wasn't sure how to explain it, but he wanted this done right. When Warrick had tied the knot two years earlier, the guys on the team had all taken him out for a celebratory breakfast. Grissom and Sara were about six months into their relationship at the time. Warrick had given them all the rundown of his extremely short courtship of the new Mrs. Tina Brown: popping the question over takeout, the drive through ceremony, the ten dollar wedding bands. While Nick and Greg had laughed and congratulated their friend on his spontaneity, Grissom had to hide a wince. While he wished the Browns well, all he could think was that he'd never treat a marriage with Sara that way.

And that was it. That was the moment when Sara and marriage first became linked in his mind. He had squashed the thoughts down, but every so often they'd bubble up in his brain. Suddenly, marriage, for him, had become something viable, provided it was with Sara.

And it was something he intended to treat with the greatest respect possible, starting with the hardware.

The Tiffany baubles glittered in their glass cases. Grissom scanned the displays for the wedding paraphernalia, locking eyes on gold bands to his far left. "Come on," he told Sara brusquely. "This way." Holding her hand, they dodged tourists and ducked window shoppers on their way to the wedding rings. After a few moments and several loud clearings of his throat, a middle-aged woman rushed to help the newly engaged couple. "We need wedding bands," Grissom said quickly. He could hear the nerves in his voice and tried to tamp them down as best he could.

The clerk, obviously used to quickie wedding customer service, got right to business. "Yellow gold, white gold, or platinum?"

He looked at Sara, who only offered a shrug in return. "Um…" Grissom ran his hand over the glass until it stopped on a silver-colored band of medium thickness. "That one looks good." He looked back at Sara. "Good?"

She smiled, her lips pressed tightly together. "Good."

"Do you know your sizes?"

Grissom shook his head. "I don't."

"I think I'm a five and a half," Sara supplied.

Within minutes they were fitted for matching rings. The clerk proceeded to wrap their purchases up just as Sara's phone began to vibrate. She sighed and reached for it in her bag. "I thought I shut this thing off." She looked at the display and rolled her eyes. "It's Ronnie."

"I thought you said she was getting better."

"She is. She reminds me of when we first got the dog and he used to run around the house, so excited, peeing on everything." Sara placed the phone to her ear and motioned to Grissom that she was going to take the call in a more quiet section of the store. "Yes, Ronnie?" he heard her grumble.

"Will that be all, sir?"

Grissom turned to the clerk, raising his brows. "Um…yeah. Yeah, I think so." He looked down at the display case once more, zoning in on the style of ring they had picked out as he retrieved his wallet. Right next to the plain platinum band twinkled some impressive ice. "Uhh…wait. Wait a minute. Does that ring go with the band?"

"They are from the same line, yes," the woman smiled. She took the ring out from it's display and placed it on a suede pad on the glass counter. "Lovely, isn't it?"

He carefully picked up the ring and examined it. A large stone, flanked by two smaller diamonds, shone brightly, refracting the light from above every which way. Grissom wanted to see the ring on Sara's hand. He wanted to twirl it around her long, delicate finger as they watched a movie. He wanted others to look at it and be impressed. He wanted it.

"I'll take it. Size five and a half."

"Yes, sir," the clerk smiled, and quickly added the ring to his purchases. Grissom handed over his credit card and watched Sara out of the corner of his eye. She looked like a woman trying valiantly -- and failing -- to temper her exasperation. After signing the receipt, Grissom was handed the iconic blue bag. "Good luck."

"Thank you," he said, grinning as he walked to where Sara was standing, still on the phone.

"Ronnie, you'll have to take it up with Catherine. No. No. She's not mean, Ronnie. Of course she likes you, Ronnie. Just stop reminding her she's the same age as your mom. No, it's not cool that they were born on the exact same day. Because it's not. Because you'll understand when you're older," Sara sighed, finally realizing Grissom was at her side, ready and waiting. She grit her teeth and pretended to choke the phone. He laughed as Sara put the receiver back to her ear. "I'll talk to you later, Ronnie. Later. No. Not tomorrow. Don't call me. I'll call you. Okay. Okay. Bye. No, no. Goodbye." Sara snapped her phone shut and turned the power off.

"You poor thing," he said, linking arms with her as they walked back to the parking garage.

"Yes, pity me," she chuckled softly, leaning into him.

"I think you deserve a pre-wedding present," he told her as they approached the car. "An engagement present, to be precise, I suppose."

Sara furrowed her brow. She unlocked the car doors and they both climbed in. "A present?"

"Uh-huh," Grissom smiled, taking his sweet time buckling in.

"You bought me a present?"

"Yes."

"When?"

Instead of answering, he just reached into the Tiffany & Co. bag and grabbed the largest blue box, handing it to her.

"Call me crazy," she smiled, confused, "but I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to put this on after we get married."

"Open it," he said simply.

Cocking an eyebrow, she did as she was told, tugging the white satin ribbon loose and laying it in her lap. She opened the box and pulled out the black velvet case inside. It snapped open in a loud creak that was soon followed by Sara's gasp. "Gil!" she said, her voice a loud whisper.

"Do you like it?"

She could only stare at the ring. "It's…very beautiful."

"So are you."

"It's too much."

"Don't be ridiculous," he said, shaking his head.

"I didn't get you a present."

"Men don't usually wear engagement rings," he laughed. "Do you like it?"

"It's beautiful," she repeated.

"But do you like it?" he asked, suddenly feeling a twinge of nervousness.

She nodded. "Who wouldn't?"

Grissom shook his head. "This is about you. Do you like it? We can go back to the store and exchange it for any one you want."

"No. No," she repeated, holding the box closer to her body. "No. I-I love it. It's just…you saw this and you thought of me?"

"I wanted to see you wear it."

She slowly pulled the ring out of the velvet box and moved to put it on her finger. Grissom stilled her hand with his. "Let me do it," he said softly, taking the ring from her so he could slip it into place.

"It fits," Sara said quietly, looking down at her hand.

Grissom shifted nervously in his seat. "Honey, I know you're far from a traditionalist. You don't have to wear any ring if you don't want to."

"I want to wear it. I mean…I might have to wear it on a chain during work, because it will get caught in my gloves, but…I…I want to wear it." Her eyes were still on the ring. "I was a flower girl once. When I was seven."

His eyes widened. "Oh?"

"We had this neighbor -- her son was getting married," Sara explained. "Their flower girl came down with the measles two days before the wedding. I was a last minute replacement. They needed someone who was about the same size because the dress had already been ordered."

He smiled at her, picturing a seven-year-old Sara Sidle walking down the aisle, sprinkling rose petals in her wake. "I bet you were adorable."

"To this day it was probably the fanciest dress I ever wore," she confessed as she worried the engagement ring around her ring finger. "I remember going to the bride's parents house across town because we all had to take pictures there before the ceremony. The bride's mother kept crying and adjusting the veil and hugging and kissing her daughter. When we got to the church, I did my thing with the flowers and then waited at the alter by the bridesmaids. I remember watching the bride's father walk her down the aisle to give her away. Even then -- even at seven years old -- I knew that all of that wasn't in the cards for me."

Grissom sat there, silent, not knowing what to say. His heart broke for Sara. Though he had thought similarly for decades that marriage was just not going to be a part of his future, it wasn't for the lack of a strong foundation. His parents' marriage, though short, was solid. Their love lasted beyond his father's death, living on in his mother and in him. But Sara had no such base. She felt excluded from tradition because of the life she was born into. It occurred to him that he was, perhaps, rushing her. That she might actually need to take that time to be the bride she never thought she could be.

"I saw this at the license bureau," she said tentatively, reaching into her pocketbook to pull out a brochure which she quickly thrust into his hands.

Grissom held it up and read the large lettering on the front piece of the folded paper. "Name Change Kit," he said, the meaning of the words not registering right away. "Oh. Oh." He turned his head towards her and gaped. Rings and joint bank accounts he expected. But Mrs. Sara Grissom? That wasn't even something he considered. "You want my name?"

"Umm…is that something you would be alright with?"

"Of course," he exclaimed, shifting so suddenly in his seat that the belt cut across his neck. "Of course. I just…is it something you would be alright with? I didn't think that you would even…that you would want that."

"I didn't think so, either. But I saw the brochure and I just…I don't know." She shrugged. "I always thought it was a stupid tradition. You're born with your name, and you should keep it. That's what I always thought. Changing you name just because you marry some guy…it never made sense to me, giving up your identity like that. But then I started thinking about my name."

"Your name?" he breathed.

"Sidle. My last name is Sidle and it's Sidle because that was my father's last name. And his last name was Sidle because his father -- who walked out on his mother when my dad was three -- was named Sidle. Sidle is part of my history, just like my mother and my father are part of my history. But you're my future."

He cupped her jaw with one hand, caressing the soft skin sweetly. "You're going to be a Grissom," he sighed, trying to comprehend the sheer magnitude of what was about to happen. "You know what this means, don't you?"

"What?"

"We'll be able to borrow each other's vests."

THE END