Title: Go dog
Author: Klee Wyck
Spoilers: Season 8
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me.
Summary: She wasn't a dog person.
My one and only dog story, because I promised. A belated birthday gift for the one and only CSINut.
Because I promised.
Many, many thanks to Adrienne for the beta.
"You do not own a dog, the dog owns you."
"Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement."
"Oh, yeah, what are you gonna do? Release the dogs? Or the bees? Or the dogs with bees in their mouth and when they bark, they shoot bees at you?"
- Homer Simpson
She wasn't a dog person, truth be told. It wasn't that Sara didn't like animals. She loved them. But, she loved them most in their natural habitat. She loved wild animals, out in the wild, where they belonged. She didn't love them being tamed, domesticated, abused and neglected.
She hadn't had pets growing up. Well, she'd had one. A dog, Rufus, for about a week — what a glorious week! — and then she'd come home from school one day to find him gone.
"Where?" she'd asked her father desperately, trying very hard not to cry in front of him.
"Just gone," was all he'd say, refusing to look at her.
God, she'd loved that dog, but after that day she'd vowed to never own another pet. Ever.
And then Grissom went and got one, without warning, without discussion. Got a dog. A big dog that slobbered on her comforter and chewed on her shoes and left hair everywhere. A dog with bad breath and nails that clicked on the floor. A dog that snored for god's sakes.
"You couldn't have got a cat?" she asked one afternoon as Grissom watched a movie and absently patted Hank's head. Hank glared at her resentfully. She glared back.
"'Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us'," was all he said.
"Winston Churchill. Well, he also said he liked pigs, because they, at least, treat us as equals."
"You could have got a cute little pot-bellied pig. We could have called it Wilbur."
"I could have. But there weren't any at the shelter."
"There shouldn't even be any shelters. Cats and dogs have been ruined by humans."
Grissom covered Hank's ears. Sara rolled her eyes. This was all before she'd decided to leave, leave him, leave them.
"Little pitchers…" Grissom said, not looking away from the TV. Sara laughed.
"It's a good thing you're cute," was all she said.
"Who? Me or him?"
"Both of you," she admitted grudgingly.
But she only kissed Grissom.
When he was trying to sleep, or on the verge of drunkenness, he remembered things that he actually kind of wanted to forget. Conversations, glances, touches, moments that made his heart twist and his stomach lurch.
This time it was two glasses of Scotch and an early morning viewing of Rear Window.
He'd been doing a crossword, in bed and she'd happened to look over at his paper. Seven across. Five-letter word for lightweight canoe.
"Kayak," she said.
"Huh," he said. "Yeah."
"It's a palindrome," she said drowsily, sliding her head down his arm in that way she had that made him want to throw his pen and paper across the room and take her—
"What? Oh. Yeah." He looked down at the top of her dark head, leaned down, pressed his lips to the part.
"Madam I'm Adam," she said. "Anal sex at noon taxes Lana. A Dan, a clan, a canal — Canada!"
Hank glanced up from his now-established post at the end of the bed and rolled his eyes at her. She stuck out her tongue. Grissom noticed but only smirked. One day they'd be friends and, besides, he was too busy inhaling the scent of her hair, the scent of her to chastise. He shoved the crossword aside and slid down beside her, his lips seeking out her cheekbone, her jawline–
"Never even," said Sara, looking at him suddenly.
"Pardon?" He blinked.
"Never even," she repeated. "I never even loved anyone as much as I love you."
"That doesn't make any sense," he said, but smiled, immensely touched and pleased. She'd kissed him.
"But it's true."
Even Hank believed it.
After she left he worked like a dog, catching as many double shifts as he could. Everyone noticed, both that Sara was gone and the he was always there. Always.
He immersed himself in the cases, pretended Sara was simply taking a day off, or working a case out of town. He was getting very good at pretending a lot of things. For instance: he pretended that the bed was very comfortable and the extra space was refreshing and the reverberating silence was welcome and—
"Gil," Catherine elbowed him. The suspect — Lisa someone — was talking. She'd been talking for quite awhile, it seemed, explaining over and over and over again exactly why she and her friend, caught at the scene covered in blood, had not committed the crime.
Whatever it was.
Grissom found himself seriously uninterested.
"Delia was ill!" Lisa wailed.
"Lisa," Catherine began. "Look—"
"Hey," Lisa said then, changing tactics suddenly. She took notice of Grissom for the first time. "You're kinda hot, you know? For an older guy, I mean. You must be, like, my dad's age." She giggled. She leaned forward, polyester-clad breasts pushing dangerously against the edge of the table. "Hey. Hey. You taken?"
Catherine sighed. Grissom leaned back, closed his file. His head was suddenly pounding. He was sure someone could hear it. He could hear it. It filled the whole room. He stood, wavering.
"Gil?" Catherine looked up. He could barely see her. He could barely see anything.
"I'm taken," he said.
She took very little with her when she left. One bag, hastily filled with clothes gathered in the dark. She figured if she didn't take too much care and time collecting her belongings, if she didn't look hard at what she was doing, she could pretend it maybe really wasn't actually happening. Hairbrush. Toothbrush. Deodorant. Bare essentials, really. Could be a dream, really.
Move along, move along. Nothing to see here.
Not really happening at all.
She was very quiet, but she wasn't sure why because she was alone in the townhouse. Well, except for Hank, who was watching her every move and was making her feel very guilty and nervous.
She shoved her feet into her shoes, shouldered on her coat, picked up her bag. He was blocking her path to the door.
"Go, dog," she hissed in the quiet. "Go!"
Hank sat. He looked up at her, his head cocked. He looked at her and he looked sad. Then he growled.
God damn! Mad dog.
Hank growled again, then stopped and whimpered softly. Sara closed her eyes, felt the tears building, gathering. She knelt suddenly, awkwardly, put her arms around Hank's neck, pushed her face into his fur. He smelled like a dog.
"Look…it's not forever, all right? I just…I just need to go away for a little while. I have some things I need to do, and after I do them…"
She pulled back then. Hank looked unconvinced. Sara swiped at her eyes angrily.
"I'll come back," she said.
Hank licked her hand. Sara started crying in earnest. So much for a clean getaway.
"I'll come back, all right? All right? I promise."
And then she was gone.
He wondered, abstractly, if he could have prevented her from leaving if he'd done all the things he had promised while they were still together.
Work out. Eat better. Keep his toenails clipped. Fix the leaky bathroom faucet.
So, he started working out, a couple times a week, jogging with Hank (he felt like an idiot, puffing and panting and having to stop every other block, but he persevered, because he had to), he stopped eating meat completely, not just pretending to for her sake, cut his toenails so short he nicked the skin on three toes, and he fixed the faucet. That faucet would never leak again.
He tried to remember all the other promises he had made and broken during their time together but as the list grew, so did his depression and finally he just grabbed one of her beers from the fridge and sat on the couch with Hank.
The marrying part he couldn't do much about, but he sure could fix a mean faucet now.
"Grissom!" Ecklie stood before him. Grissom looked up, focused on focusing. "End of month reports. Where are they?"
Grissom shook his head, tried to remember.
"You promised they'd be in yesterday."
"I did, did I?"
"Huh." Grissom made an elaborate show of shuffling through some papers on his cluttered desk. Ecklie watched him for a full three minutes before he sat down, leaned forward, lowered his voice.
Grissom's head shot up. "Conrad—"
"No, no. Hear me out, now. You and I, well, we're not the best of pals, I know."
"But, I know a few things about…" he lowered his voice even more and Grissom cringed. "…a broken heart."
"Ecklie. My heart—"
"If you need some time, please—"
"—is no business of yours, or anyone else's—"
"—take it, all right? God knows you've got time coming to you. I mean we've all noticed—"
"I'm fine!" Grissom shouted then closed his mouth, hard. He hadn't meant to shout. He hadn't meant to get involved in this discussion at all, or any discussion that involved Sara Sidle in any way.
He hadn't meant to get involved with Sara Sidle, in any way.
Now his heart, and its state, was the common concern of co-workers and superiors alike. The stuff of water cooler talk. Grissom felt ill. He might throw up. He stood abruptly.
"I have to go now, Conrad. Thanks for stopping by. I'll get those reports to you tomorrow."
"Think about what I said, Gil. You're amongst friends. We're all in this together."
Grissom made it to the bathroom, just in time.
Once, they took him out for drinks on their night off and he got drunker than he had since college and looked for Sara in every blurred face he saw.
"You know who could dance?" Greg yelled over the music. "Sara. Sara could dance. Did you know that?" He shook his head, disgusted. "No…probably not."
He played some weird drinking game with Greg and Greg looked like he wanted to kill him, may just kill him with his bare hands if he got him alone in an alley somewhere. Grissom meant to ask him what was wrong, but the words got misplaced somewhere between his brain and his mouth. His tongue, by the way, suddenly felt too large for his mouth.
He knew he was drunk because he danced to some ungodly music and he knew he was dreaming because he thought he danced with Sara.
Her name was Justine, though, and upon second, more serious examination, she had a tough, unforgiving face and hard eyes. How could he have thought it was Sara after all? Sara wasn't here. Sara was gone. Just. Gone.
Catherine, who'd had only one glass of wine — "Alcohol is so fattening!" — drove him home, glancing over from time to time and trying not to smirk.
"No lemons, no melon," he murmured, trying to grasp at something, something just out of reach, and not quite getting it.
"Was it a cat I saw?" he said.
"Gil…are you talking to me?"
"Now, Sir, a war is won!"
"Okay…you're starting to freak me out a little."
"Yo, banana boy!"
She pulled into his driveway, cut the engine. They sat in the dark and the silence for a moment.
"You all right?" she said finally.
He shrugged. "Not sure."
"Have you…talked to her?"
"Couple times. I let her do the calling."
"Gil…for pity's sake."
"I don't know…just. Don't mess this up, ok? It's on the verge of getting messed up."
"She left me, Cath, in case you forgot."
"That means shit. And it certainly doesn't mean she doesn't want you to call her."
Grissom tried to process.
He looked out the window.
"A nut for a jar of tuna."
He called her the next morning.
"It's me," he said.
"I know." Already her voice sounded like a stranger's to him, like someone he knew long ago and remembered with fondness. "How are you?"
"Fine. Good. How are you?"
"I'm…" She sounded like she might cry.
"I fixed the faucet. The leaky one, you know? You asked me a long time ago and I promised and I never did it. But I did do it, couple days ago. And I cut my toenails."
"I'm running, couple days a week, too. Hank loves it. He tries not to laugh."
"Hank." She laughed. The first laugh he'd heard from her in, how long? Laughing about the damn dog.
"He misses you," Grissom said.
"Yeah, I'm sure."
"I do, too," he said quickly, holding the phone tight. "I miss you more than I can say. And I love you, too. Do you know that? You must. You must know that, right? I love you and I — we — want you to come back."
She was crying now, softly.
"When you're ready, I mean."
"I miss you," she whispered.
Grissom closed his eyes, saw her face.
Hank watched him from across the room, his expression unreadable.
"Here," Greg slapped the file folders down on Grissom's desk, turned abruptly and stomped away.
"Hey," Grissom called out, suddenly aware of something.
Greg turned, kind of, at the doorway, but didn't make eye contact. Instead he glared at the heavy paperweight on Grissom's desk, at the clock above his head, at some indistinct spot on the wall to the right.
"What's up with you?"
"What do you mean exactly? Are you talking about my health? It's fine, thanks. Or my nonexistent love life? Or maybe you're inquiring about my car, which broke down again this morning?"
"Uh…I don't know. You seem…"
"Annoyed? Angry? Resentful? Totally pissed off?"
Grissom leaned back. "Now that you mention it, yes. All of those."
Greg made eye contact then, strode toward Grissom, gripped the edge of his desk, knuckle-white.
"I am all those things, and then some. Everyone else is pussy-footing around you, giving you sweet, romantic advice about going after Sara, about wooing her, about getting her back."
Grissom frowned. This was not the direction he pictured this conversation going.
"Well, I'm going to lay in on the line. I'm going to tell you that…you suck! Ok? You do. Dammit, I'm mad! Sara? Sara was the best thing that happened to you and you let her go. You let her just walk away and you didn't go after her and you didn't see the warning signs and there were plenty, believe me. I saw them, and other people did too, ok?"
"No! No. I need to say this. This needs to be said, ok? Now, it's no secret I've harboured…some affection for Sara over the years. We all know this and I'm not embarrassed about it. I mean, there were some awkward moments in the past, but we both survived. I loved her, but I always knew she loved you, that she wanted you, and I was all right with that, because I thought you were a stand-up kind of guy. I thought you would take care of her, make sure she was all right. Now? Now…I don't think so. I think her leaving was the best thing she could have done…for herself, anyway."
Greg sat. "You're so gonna fire me, aren't you?" He looked down at his lap, at his hands. "You don't really suck, ok? I just…I just miss her, you know?"
Grissom opened his mouth, but didn't say what he wanted to say. He sighed, instead. "Never even," he murmured.
"Greg," Grissom leaned forward, removed his glasses. He closed his eyes briefly and inhaled, held his breath for a moment, then released it. "Do you know what a palindrome is?"
"Of course," Greg said rather indignantly but pleased at the same time. "It's a word that reads the same backwards and forwards. "For example, racecar, deed, level, madam, civic—"
"Yes, yes," Grissom pressed his fingertips to his eyes, pushed for a moment, then released. "But, more importantly, the word palindrome is derived from the Greek palíndromos meaning running back again."
The two men stared at one another. Greg nodded slowly.
"Running back again," he said quietly. He looked at Grissom, then looked away. "You think? Really?"
Grissom carefully put his glasses back on, pushed them up on his nose.
"She has to," he said, not looking at anything. He shrugged then and put fingers that may have trembled to his temples for a moment and Greg had never seen a more desperate movement. "She has to."
He whistled in the darkness for Hank. Hank came running, as he always did, nuzzled Grissom's hand, as he always did.
Grissom checked phone messages, which he always did. Nothing.
He sorted through his mail, which he also always did. Nothing.
From no one.
He lay on the bed, in the dark, alone, as he always did these days, and cried just a little bit, which he sometimes did, but mostly didn't, because it seemed pointless. Hank lay beside him. Once, he lifted his head, pushed his cold, wet nose into Grissom's neck. Grissom roused and lifted up on his elbows, looked at the dog. The dog looked back, hard.
Grissom could have sworn he was trying to tell him something.