Disclaimer: Most of the characters and situations in this story belong to Alliance Atlantis, CBS, Anthony Zuicker and other entities, and I do not have permission to borrow them. No infringement is intended in any way, and this story is not for profit. All others belong to me, and if you want to play with them you have to ask me first. Any errors are mine, all mine, no you can't have any.
Spoilers: through "Cockroaches"
This is my version of a songfic, which is to say, I used the lyrics as a form for the plot. The song in question is Gordon Lightfoot's "Song for a Winter's Night", as performed by Sarah McLachlan on her Wintersong album. It's a beautiful piece.
Many thanks to Cincoflex for betaing above and beyond the call of duty, and Mingsmommy for offering the song!
It was snowing in San Francisco.
Sara sat in the worn wicker chair near the window, gazing out at the spectacle of feathery flakes falling down over the Bay, the oddest fog the city had ever seen. It wouldn't stick, she knew; in a few hours the storm would blow past, and there would be no more for decades. But for the moment the silent magic was in full force, and she watched, fascinated.
After all, the last time she'd seen snow had been the winter before she'd graduated from college.
It was strange to think that it had been that long. Snow had been a revelation to a California-bred girl, one whose family had never gone up into the mountains in the wintertime. The closest she'd come to snow had been seeing it on a distant peak.
Sara took a sip of wine from the glass she held, letting the rich, sharp flavor slide across her tongue before swallowing. She didn't drink often anymore, and when she did she wanted it to be worthwhile. The alcohol warmed her on the way down; it seemed to be the only part of her that held any real heat, despite the coziness of the room and the low-burning fire in the fireplace. Even the crimson shade on the one little dim lamp didn't do more than make the shadows strange.
The rest of the narrow old house was quiet, now, except for the occasional creak of night's settling. Sara's mother and her aunt had gone to bed, after commenting on the snow. Aunt Michaela had once seen the City beneath such a veil before, back in 1947 when she'd been sick in bed with the measles.
But not since.
Sara appreciated these quiet times, when insomnia kept her up and alone. Her aunt had turned out to be a lovely woman, and Sara and her mother had worked through a number of issues, but in the end they still had a cautious formality between them, that of people who don't know each other well and fear to offend.
The snow was beautiful. Sara leaned her forehead against the window, ignoring the chill of the pane against her skin, and watched it swirl and tumble down from the sky, endless, pristine. It was hypnotizing in its own way, and if Sara had truly been alone she would have gone out and walked in it for hours, until her toes were numb and her hair wet with melt.
But she could not leave without waking the others, and to explain would break the spell. So she sat, and watched.
The tear that hit her cheek was a surprise, and Sara instantly put it down to weakness, and the stupid romance of a snowfall.
What good was a walk if she had to keep her hands in her pockets to stay warm, instead of in the grip of another?
Dammit, Gil, I used to be fine by myself.
She swiped irritably at her face and set the glass aside. She couldn't really blame him. I made the choice, from the moment I decided to stay in Las Vegas. No, from the moment I chose to go there.
How had things gotten so bad?
Once upon a time, she'd thought that wrecking her career and standing solitary in the ruins was the worst thing that could happen to her. But...that was before she had so much to lose.
I was happy...for the first time that I could remember.
But it had all crumbled in her hands, as though happiness was molded of sun-baked sand, ephemeral. And in her own pain she'd hurt the one person she had most desired to spare.
Sara sighed, watching her breath cloud briefly on the glass, and straightened, rubbing absently at the numb patch of skin on her forehead. Grissom's letter still sat in her lap, three pages of his rather elegant script, offering intimacies among conveyed best wishes from their colleagues and the latest of Bruno's antics.
He'd signed it All my love, but the same love spilled out between each line, his gentle teases and wistful phrases that outlined a loneliness he wouldn't openly admit.
Sara read them all again, even though she had the letter half-memorized by now. They shored up her doubting heart, which perversely feared that Grissom had ceased to care the moment she'd left Las Vegas. Illogical, but there it was.
After all, she'd told him he could come, in that last e-mail the day before. Not asking--she wanted the choice to be entirely his--but giving him permission if he wanted to take it.
He hadn't answered, yet. And the fear crept in.
At least I know it. Awareness of the traps her psyche set was the first step to avoiding them...at least according to one therapist or another.
Gil...I miss you.
She'd been a coward. Sara knew it. She had told him goodbye by letter, instead of facing him; she had been more craven than he, for at least he'd sought her out before leaving for the East Coast a year before.
So she'd made a promise to herself: she would not go back to him until she could offer him a healed soul. Sara would not deal him another such blow.
I owe him that.
But oh, it hurt.
The sentences grew blurry, and Sara set the letter hastily aside, lest the ink blot and run. She clenched her jaw and concentrated fiercely on the snow, which showed no signs of stopping.
The longing swelled in her, a bubble of anguish cramping her heart. All of a sudden she wanted nothing more than Grissom's hands wrapped around hers, his eyes looking into hers, his solid reassuring form breathing mere inches away...comfort and safety and all the yearning of a lifetime fulfilled in one flawed, beautiful human form.
She would not cry.
The snow kept falling.
Grissom's voice floated through her dream, her name in his unmistakable tone, querying and polite and not quite fitting the disjointed images of hunting for clues in a backyard filled with pillows growing through the grass. Sara blinked awake, the dream shattering.
The fire was long dead. Grey dawn light illuminated the room, fighting with the red lamp, and the snow had stopped, though a delicate lace of it still adorned the window.
Her neck ached from sleeping in the chair. Sara rubbed it, frowning, and wondered what had woken her.
Someone knocked on her door. "Come in," Sara said, expecting her aunt to gently scold her for not going to bed, but instead it was her mother, clad in a warm and overly large quilted robe.
Laura Sidle's face, worn with time and trouble, bore an odd expression, part puzzlement and part courtesy. "Sara...there's someone here to see you."
Sara had only a second to wonder who was looking for her at seven in the morning before a familiar shape filled the doorway.
It had been his voice, after all.
She stood. Grissom looked bone-weary, his hair more silvery and his mouth dragged down at the corners, but all she seemed to be able to see was his eyes, so bright, so open.
The space between them was not far, but it seemed to take forever for Sara to reach him. With great concentration, she reached out and took his nervously clenching hands. Immediately his fingers laced with hers, palm to palm, and Sara barely noticed her mother stepping back out into the hall and closing the door. She raised Grissom's hands, bowing her head and pressing them to her cheeks, exhaling just to breathe in his scent.
Those warm strong fingers slipped from her grasp to cup her cheeks and slide into her hair, and then Sara found herself leaning against him, her head resting on his shoulder and his arm keeping her from falling.
Her name fell from his lips over and over, a hushed murmur, as though he couldn't keep it back.
Sara couldn't speak, but she didn't have to.
Luckily the old chair was sturdier than it looked, and didn't even protest under their combined weight. Sara usually felt silly just sitting on Grissom's lap--if nothing else, the length of her legs made it a touch absurd--but this time it didn't matter at all, and anyway she got the feeling that Grissom would have insisted.
He had one arm around her waist and the other running through her hair. Sara lay against him like a tired child, feeling the prickle of the stubble on his throat against her temple and savoring the sensation.
"I left as soon as I could," he said at last. "Things are a little...rough...at the lab right now, and I couldn't just walk out, as much as I wanted to."
Sara raised her chin enough to place a soft kiss against his jaw, and felt him sigh. "I'm just glad you're here."
His chuckle was more vibration than sound. "I would have been here sooner, but there was a snowstorm in the way."
Her lips curved up, and she let her palm rest against his heart.
"Sara…" Grissom's hand traced her ear, her cheek, touched the corner of her mouth before returning to her hair. "I know we have to talk, but I just want to say one thing right now."
He paused, and she nodded, rubbing a small circle around a button on his shirt. Taking a deep breath, Grissom went on. "One thing's become very clear to me over the past few weeks. I…I need to be part of your life, no matter what you decide to do."
He swallowed. "If that means leaving Vegas, leaving CSI, I can do that. You are home for me too, honey. I can't let you go."
There was no more cold inside her. Grissom's words filled her up, and any ghosts left were silent. Sara uncurled enough to sit up; Grissom let his hands slide to her hips, gripping gently. His face was calm, but she could see apprehension in his eyes.
Her kiss this time was gentler than the last, soft and loving, but it was just as full of promise. When their lips parted, Sara reached down and took his hands once more, pulling his arms around her waist. He needed no encouragement to clasp his hands together.
Sara stroked his cheek with the backs of her fingers. "Good," was all she said, but the smile that spread over his face told her he understood.
She laid her head back down on his shoulder, curving one hand around his neck; Grissom's pulse beat strong and slow under her fingers. Love filled the small room like the wine had filled her glass, sweet and rich and strong, but now she knew that this draught would never run dry.
Grissom pulled her a little closer, and Sara let her eyes slip shut, content.