Title: His Favorite F-word
Author: Summer Reign
Rating: T (+)
Disclaimer: They aren't mine but I'd like them for my birthday, please.
Summary: (oh, how I hate thee). It's just a series of vignettes throughout the ages. GSR all the way.
Here in my heart
There is a dream that's unbroken
And it gets in my way
But it won't be denied
(Chicago, Here in My Heart)
It started with…
By the time she walked into the lecture hall, Gil Grissom had become quite accustomed to being Gil Grissom.
He was who he was, and he was no longer in denial. Inside the slightly baggy pants and button-down shirt was a scientist: first and foremost. He was filled with curiosity about…well, everything. And he was too smart for his own good. That part, he had known almost all his life. While most young boys would squish a bug to impress a screaming young girl, he would get down on his hands and knees, capture the specimen in the palm of his hand, and forget about the girl altogether while trying to figure out what classification this particular Coleoptera fell into.
He grew up believing that, one day, the right woman (the one his mother always swore was "out there--waiting") would become entranced with him—in all his geekish glory. But, girl after girl, young woman after young woman, and older woman after older woman would enthusiastically engage in conversation with him, only to have their eyes glaze over in boredom after a few moments of hearing him speak.
So, he gave up, to some extent.
He dated women in the field, casually. No strings, no commitments—just something to do in between experiments.
And then he met Sidle, Sara A.
That was her name. Third seat, front row. He noticed her during the very first lecture in the series. He couldn't help it. There were air conditioning issues and it was stuck on full-blast. It blew so hard that one of the stray hairs slipping out from her ponytail holder caught on her lip-glossed lips and she was trying to get the offending strand off of her mouth without drawing undue attention to herself. Her efforts failed and he caught her. She looked mortified; he smiled in response.
She smiled back.
From that moment, she never took her eyes off him. She watched with rapt attention. He was used to the occasional student falling asleep during his lectures. This reaction was quite different. And there wasn't even a hint of a glaze over those bright, bright eyes.
"You almost through in here?" The custodian cleared his throat, loudly, and rolled his garbage bin into the lecture hall.
"Well," Grissom looked at his watch. He had been answering her questions now for nearly twenty minutes. It only seemed like a few seconds. She had asked a question or two during class, until a few students groaned as her hand shot up to ask another. She saved the rest for after class. He watched as Sidle, Sara A.'s face fell just a little bit. "Yes, I'm sorry," he said to the janitor before turning to the young woman. "Save some questions for tomorrow, Miss Sidle."
"Sara," she corrected, looking up with a warm smile.
"Sara," he said, suddenly wondering what the A. stood for. Probably Ashley. Wasn't everyone named Ashley nowadays?
"Do you want to go to the cafeteria? Have some coffee?" she asked quickly. Almost too quickly. He was about to turn her down when he noticed her cheeks flushing through her freckles. He made her blush? Why? Surely it wasn't just the quest for knowledge that was infusing her face with color? Or was that just wishful thinking on his part?
"I've had cafeteria coffee and it's nothing more than flavored water," he said, and she looked down at her shoes again. "I could go for the real thing, though. And a slice of apple pie. How about the diner up the road?"
She smiled her answer.
And that's how their after-class "dates" began.
But, they weren't really dates. Just meetings between two like-minded people, really.
She was his student. For a very short time, he was her guest lecturer. Well, it was hardly a scandalous liaison, but he was her guest lecturer—older guest lecturer—from out of town. That was the problem. He wasn't staying and she wasn't going anywhere. It would never work. Whatever It was supposed to be.
But he liked her. Really liked her. And he could sense she liked him. Probably a bit too much for her own good. A man could take advantage of such a situation. Grissom still didn't know what made her tick on a personal level but—on an intellectual level--she was highly committed to learning everything he had to teach. He could identify with that, certainly. And he respected her way too much to start something that both of them knew would only be temporary. Whatever Something might be.
But the more he got to know her, the more alive he began to feel. And the more curious about things he hadn't truly felt curious about in a long time. Yes, he dated. Yes, on occasion, he had sex. He knew what a woman felt like, smelled like, and tasted like.
But, somehow, he knew Sara wouldn't be like any of them.
And finding out was just a big, fat no-no.
She just wasn't a temporary kind of girl.
So, he didn't think about how warm and soft her hands might feel.
He put aside the slight desire to smell her hair and find out if it had the texture of silk.
He definitely didn't think about whether her skin would be salty or sweet.
Or if she was vocal in…
He put those thoughts aside.
They were really inappropriate.
She wasn't a temporary girl.
And long-distance Relationships didn't work. But, long-distance friendships, in his experience, flourished. Mostly because no one had to, well, deal with him on any kind of a regular one-to-one basis. He was a much easier person to get along with in theory, than in practice.
So, he passed on his contact information to Sidle, Sara Anne, and grasped her (very warm, very soft) hand in both of his before bidding her a fond adieu.
And he smiled warmly, when he got on the plane and opened the card she slipped into his hand before leaving him.
"To quote a very old song…'thank you for letting me be myself--again.' I hope this is just the beginning of a very long and wonderful friendship. Sara."
He hoped so, too. Theirs would be an intellectual relationship, based on knowledge, thought and the exploration of the mind. Surely a level above the purely physical.
Really, in some ways, it was the start of Romance with a capital R.
He liked that.
And—as far as the purely physical was concerned—perhaps it was time to start dating more.
Sara had reminded him that he just might have a little something left to offer womankind. And they may just have a little something left to offer him.
Then there was…
He wouldn't call it love. Just casual…banter among co-workers, really.
Although, if Catherine requested that he tie her up, he'd probably tell her to knock off the nonsense.
And he'd kick Warrick and Nicky to the curb if they asked him if he'd like to sleep with them, cold-sweat issues or not.
God, she was cute. He forgot just how cute she was. Somehow, her cuteness didn't translate well through email. Or even through phone calls.
And then there was the intensity. Sara was nothing if not intense.
He had long suspected she would be, but now had first-hand knowledge.
When she was working on a case, nothing and no one could stand in her way.
There was a kind of beauty in that, too.
So, really, what was the harm in tying duct tape around her wrists, even if said action was met with big brown eyes and batting eyelashes?
Or talking about the mile high club in the middle of the case? Even if the thought of her having sex with anyone, at anytime, kind of made him queasy.
He knew she wasn't a virgin. He did. Intellectually, she wouldn't be. She was…what? Old enough, that's what. And he had sex with a virgin. Once. Deflowered her, as she deflowered him, as a matter of fact. And there was nothing particularly lovely about that act. It was the most uncomfortable, awkward, downright horrifying experience of his (and Doreen O'Brien's) life. So, it's not like he wanted to be Sara's first or anything.
But he wouldn't mind being her…last.
Uh, oh. That was dangerous territory.
Damn the LVPD for promoting him. But, if they hadn't, he would never have been in a position to invite her to consult. Or to hire her as a permanent employee.
And he would be feeling like the 104-year old man who got this promotion, instead of the young buck who felt alive again the moment she hit town.
The cold, hard fact was he still wasn't exactly God's gift to women. He did date more. And flirt more. And put more women to sleep—in the wrong way. And he still refused to compromise and be someone other than the person he was. It seemed to be enough for some women. Well, one woman, anyway.
But, he was her boss. Sometimes, it was hard to remember that. Like during the 25 times a day (or so) that he thought of having an affair with Sara.
Romance with a capital R didn't seem quite as fun as the possibility of Pleasure with a capital P.
But, it would still have to do. She was still not his temporary one. Although, she was young. And, well, maybe she wanted to try an older dude as much as she wanted to play around on a plane. Maybe she viewed him as a potential temporary one.
That was unfair. Maybe.
Still, she made him smile. Now, when he stooped down to examine a beetle or a white fiber, her breath was close enough to tickle his cheek while she gave voice to a theory that hadn't even crossed his fertile mind before.
She made him ache. She challenged him and forced him to remember his own commitment to his career.
And, in some ways, that last accomplishment sealed their fates.
For quite some time.
Definitely not love.
She was driving him nuts. Every day, in every way, she was finding a new way to do it.
Twisting his words around. "Find a diversion." First of all, he said that a long time ago. And he meant…bingo or bowling or some other innocent 'b' activity. Not boinking some idiot paramedic.
There was the proof of how insane she was driving him. Boinking. Never in a million years would he ever previously consider bastardizing the English language in such a way. Even if it was only in his own mind.
But, thinking of it in any other way was just too painful.
Having sex? Well, that could be considered a form of exercise, really.
But intense Sara Sidle? Just having sex? Probably not.
There was the nausea again.
If she wasn't at Grissom's beck and call 24-hours a day (and, he'd admit, sometimes he put her to the test because—well, Hank really was an idiot—and Sara definitely was not), he would get a little out of sorts.
Which would result in him doing something slightly unethical like sending her on a horrid case where a couple of teens ate the innards of another while under the influence of drugs. Solo. On her day off.
But, Sara plugged through it all. By all reports, holding on to her own lunch, and definitely solving the case.
And, in her own way, calling him out on his behavior.
And then dumping Hank. And promptly turning around and asking him, Grissom, out.
Him. Grissom. Out. On a date.
A dream come true, in some ways, except now he was going deaf.
And he didn't want to be anyone's rebound lover.
And he was still her boss.
And he was old…and genetics were catching up with him…and she was young and vibrant and energetic…and he wanted to but his guts were twisted in a tight knot…and he couldn't breathe and he wanted her out of his office and…he needed to be Gil Grissom: Scientist again, and…
He said no. And, really, he felt better.
Women left. A good career, however, could last far longer.
After awhile, he realized he lived a life of …
And love had no right to be factored into the equation.
It started just the way any case started. Except…it was Sara on the floor.
But, not really.
Anti-Sara? Yes, in many ways.
Debbie Marlin looked like Sara. So much so that he spent every waking moment (and most of the moments he should be sleeping) looking for her murderer.
But, she was no Sara Sidle.
And he hoped he was no Victor Lurie.
Although he could identify with the man. NOT the murdering part. But the dreams long dormant, awakening part. Or the "there is no fool like an old fool" part.
But no matter how delusional Lurie may have been, he couldn't possibly believe that Debbie ever meant to offer him what Sara had offered Grissom.
Debbie wasn't giving him a life. She was giving him a very short-term relationship in exchange for whatever she could get out of him.
Grissom was very, very tired. And he wanted to reach Lurie on a deep emotional level. And, in doing so, he uttered a truth he tried to keep hidden—even from himself.
Sara had offered him a new life. It didn't matter how young he always said she was. Or how old he, himself, felt. This was what Sara really wanted. He had, perhaps, always known it, but refused to accept it. All because of fear. Deep, paralyzing fear. He couldn't take the chance that he would screw things up. He couldn't live with himself if he did that.
Funny. He had always loved poetic words but never bought the whole, "'twas better to have loved and lost," bit.
'Twas better never to have tried at all.
No love in sight.
"Sara?" he stopped her in the hallway and motioned her inside his office.
She had that wary look about her again. The one that said she was being called into the principal's office. Brass had been vague. Just a "talk to the kid, she needs someone to talk to" speech. What was he supposed to DO with that information?
She sat down and looked at her hands for a while. Then seemed to muster up enough strength to lift her chin and meet his gaze.
Damn. He wished she'd look down at her hands again. It would be easier.
"We haven't really had the chance to talk in a while." Good start, he thought. Very generic. Ball was in her court.
"We haven't even worked together in a while," she said, and he suddenly felt like pond scum.
Yes, Sara. That was intentional. Because after … Hank. After…the hearing loss scare. After…you asking me out. After seeing you dead but, not really…AFTER you stirring up every emotion in my repertoire…I decided the only way to do this is to go cold turkey. See you at assignment time and I bid you a goodnight. Dismissed.
"Really?" he replied nonchalantly, feeling like scummy pond scum.
Well, there wasn't much to say to that.
"So, is there anything you wanted to talk to me about, specifically?" she asked.
There was a slight sharpness to her voice. There was a slight sharpness to her, he noticed. Is this what Brass was worried about. This defensive behavior? This wearing of dark clothing and minimal makeup and straightening her hair into this lanky, shapeless style? He supposed all these clues could mean something. But, what?
"No. Just trying to catch up. It's a supervisor's job to be in touch with his employees."
And there it was. A smirk. But not an amused one. No. There was no humor in this smirk.
"Well, I wouldn't worry about it in my case, Grissom. What you see is what you get. I work, eat, sleep and work some more. That's it. Nothing to catch up with here."
"Oh." How does one respond to this stuff?
So he said nothing. And told her to have a nice day. And she got up and left without giving him another glance.
And two weeks later, he was driving to a police station, knowing exactly what Brass had been referring to when he said Sara might have needed a friend.
And, then, surprisingly, there was …
Still not love. Probably. Closer to…moving in the direction of…friendship, really.
He was forcing the issue, sometimes. She had learned to bottle things up. And he knew he was partially to blame for that, and he was pushing her.
Definitely pushing her.
And she was revealing parts of herself, of her past, to him.
And it was horrifying.
He sighed to himself. He sighed to the world at large, if they were paying attention.
Initially, a part of him had envied her youth. Not overly much but a little. Middle aged mania had hit him, he supposed. And she was blooming. But he stereotyped her. And stereotyped her feelings. And just…underestimated Sara Anne Sidle. He made assumptions about her past, without ever really finding out about anything.
Graduated good schools with excellent grades. Harvard. Did he ever ask her how she got there? No, he assumed her parents footed the bill and she lived somewhat of a life of privilege, and was just some loosey-goosey kid, looking for some kicks with someone who could stimulate her on some sort of intellectual level, which—chances are—a good many men in her own age group could not.
He was very wrong.
And very ashamed of being wrong.
But she didn't want his shame. Or his pity. Even now. Maybe especially now.
And she was doing well, especially since she had a new little "diversion," in the form of Greg Sanders. She had volunteered to mentor him. And she was doing a great job. Really, almost too good. Many times, he'd stand back and watch their natural camaraderie. Her encouragement. His humor.
And it was a good match. He was young. Younger, even, than Sara. And smart. And fun.
And not for her.
No. Not at all. Good match or not.
Why? Well, because he said so, that's why.
"So," he said, catching up with her in the evidence room. "I hear you had to go through decontamination today."
"Ugh. You know, they herded us into those tents like we were cattle."
"Yeah, well. It's for your own good. Even though it was somewhat of a false alarm—this time."
"I know. Still, it's kind of…invasive. I mean, seeing your coworkers in the buff."
"Greg said he didn't look," he blurted out and then nearly bit his own tongue off in anger.
"How did you…? Oh, you must have heard us in the hall," she chuckled.
Well, at least he amused her.
After a long moment of silence, he heard himself blurt out, "I would have." He could feel his face set itself on fire.
A big laugh came from across the table. "I can't believe you said that," she said.
"In the interest of scientific exploration, of course," he said, feeling a long-forgotten feeling of…giddiness?
"Really? And what hypothesis would you be examining?"
Freckles. If her freckles peppered her skin…everywhere.
If her pale complexion led to pale nipples.
There was that flame thing again.
"Well, it would really just be…uh…you have an endomorphic body type. I would see if it was…"
More giggles. Okay. This was getting out of hand.
"Sara, look, I'm…that was out of line and I apologize."
She stopped laughing long enough to look at him. She was pink…probably everywhere. Oh, oh. There it was again.
And there IT was again. Shit, he wouldn't even be able to make a smooth exit.
"Don't. Between you and Greg, this is the first time I've really felt like a woman in a long time."
"You haven't felt like a woman?" he asked.
"Not really. Felt like a female CSI, but not…I don't know. It doesn't really make sense. But it felt good. So, don't apologize."
She started leaving the room (thank God!) and then turned to him. "You know, if I would imagine this scenario, I would never have thought that Greg would be the chivalrous one and you would be the hound."
And then she winked at him.
A hound. No. Not really a hound. But, he knew exactly what she meant. Because, for the first time in a long time, he felt like a man.
He was in trouble.
Big, big trouble.
And, then, finally, there was…
And he would call it love. Maybe not out in the open, but in his heart. Yes, he'd call it love.
He tried to stay away. He really did. Up until about five minutes before he stood in front of her door he was still trying to convince himself to go home. It had been an emotional day. He had almost watched Sara die. The real Sara, this time.
All his chances had almost come to an end.
And the door opened and she stood before him with red-rimmed eyes, no longer comfortable crying anywhere but home.
And his arms reached out and pulled her to himself, as hers wrapped around his neck. Her face settled against his shoulder and … he was home.
In spite of himself.
He was dreaming of being touched. Everywhere. Soft, fleeting touches. Running of fingers through his hair, across his face, smoothing over his arms, his shoulders, his fingers.
He hadn't been touched like that in a very long time. It was…beyond nice.
And it was real. Before he opened his eyes, he knew that Sara was softly stroking his beard.
What now? The night before he was working on raw emotions. And so was she.
But now, she deserved beautiful words and … she deserved more.
He opened his eyes and found her staring at him. She leaned forward and brushed her nose against his. Then…smiled. A soft, private sort of smile, complete with sleepy brown eyes and mussed hair.
He was definitely ready for Round Two and he hadn't even said all the things he needed to say to her.
"I'm sorry. I know that's silly. But, I've always wanted to do that," she said, completing her 'Eskimo kiss.'
"You really don't sleep, do you?"
"I do. But, not tonight."
"You were touching me," he stated. "While I slept. I felt it."
She looked into his eyes, and there was a trace of … something. Uncertainty? Disappointment?
"I wasn't about to sleep through what could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance."
"You think I'm going to leave?"
"I don't know," she said, shrugging her shoulders. "Are you?"
"No," he said flatly, and was surprised himself. No, he didn't want to go. No, he didn't want to leave her. No, he didn't have any answers on how they'd handle things but…he didn't care. All he cared about was right here in this bed. He smiled, and she responded in kind.
"You look awfully pleased with yourself there, Gris."
He put his hand up to the side of her face. "I'm very pleased."
"Stop. You're happy and you've just made me happy and nothing else really matters, does it?" she said, tracing the line between his eyebrows.
He put his hand up to her shoulder. She had put on something…silky and….
"You're wearing pink," he said, surprised.
He ran his hand down the smooth material to the hem that ended high up on her thighs. He ran his hand under the garment and found a pair of matching panties.
"Thanks," she said and … was that another blush? He hadn't seen one of those in quite some time.
"I never really pictured you sleeping in something like this," he said. He didn't add that she wasn't usually wearing anything in his fantasies.
"I don't, really. I bought this the first year I came to Vegas. I don't know. It was silly, really. We were just getting so close, I thought, and…I saw it and thought of you. Stupid. Anyway, I had meant to send it to the Salvation Army or something…but…I don't know. I couldn't let it go, I guess."
"So am I. Can I kiss you for a while?"
What an odd question. They had kissed the night before. Although, truth be told, they were kind of desperate kisses leading to something more. Leading to everything…
"I'd like that," he said and watched as she straddled his lap. She smiled a bit as she encountered his early morning erection and carefully backed up just a bit, so as to make it slightly easier to 'ignore."
And then she kissed him. Soft, sweet closed-mouthed kisses. Different angles, different pressures. Some on his lips, some on his neck, his ears, behind his ears, his shoulder…back to his mouth. A smorgasbord of kisses that both delighted him, and drove him to near-distraction. He wanted the softness he had encountered inside her warm mouth. He wanted the softness he had encountered…inside her.
"Sara," he said as she took the opportunity to kiss just his lower lip.
He ran his hand up under her nightgown and touched the skin of her waist.
"Not that I'm not enjoying myself but…"
But what? How does one say certain things to a lady? One that he…well, loves, but he's not about to admit that fact just yet.
"A man has certain needs," he blurted out.
She stopped kissing him and moved her head back. There was that soft smile again.
He nodded and smiled back. "Wants."
"Ah," she said.
"Desires," he said, tugging her panties down an inch or so. He leaned forward and whispered in her ear. "I need you, Sara."
He felt her shiver slightly.
"And I need you." She leaned forward and pressed one more kiss to his lips. Another…and he was feeling that warmth again.
And every one of this man's needs began to be fulfilled.
And beyond love, beyond anything he had ever felt before.
All of a sudden, the blissful routine they had settled into had been turned on its head and his life became a bizarre slide show. Sometimes running in excruciatingly slow motion; sometimes running in triple time.
He never had to risk everything he worked for to have her. That was all in his imagination.
But, he might be risking his life, now.
Because, surely, he would die if they didn't find her alive.
He hoped so, anyway.
A double funeral.
Maybe he should tell someone of his wishes…just in case.
It was funny how they came together for the first time after he almost lost her.
Second chances. Living on borrowed time…
His mind would not stop working. Not even for a second. He was a scientist. He could find her. Damn it. He could. If only he could think straight.
But all he knew is he wanted her back.
And he got his wish. And then some. For a while.
He didn't see the signs.
He chose not to see the signs.
And she was gone.
An island. No man is an island.
Living alone. Being alone. He could do it. Surely it was temporary. He could do it.
And he did do it. Become an island of a man. But, in doing so, he ignored more signs. From other people who cared for him. From other people he cared about.
And now he had to tell Sara that Warrick was dead.
If he had seen the signs, could he have done anything? Maybe not. But, he'd never really know, would he?
He listened to her cry on the phone. Just like he had on the night she left him. On the night he convinced her that he would wait—forever, if he had to—to have her back.
Two days later, he stood by the gravesite.
"Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust…" the preacher said.
He bowed his head and tried very hard not to think of the young man whose casket stood just to the right of the huge hole in the ground. The man who had overcome so much in his life. The man with so much promise. The one person Grissom really had considered his successor. His friend.
His heart was so full. Of pain, of remorse, of all the morbid emotions that nudge people when they are trying desperately not to let the floodgates open, in fear of drowning.
And that's when he felt her hand slip into his. He didn't have to look up.
His Favorite F Word
"What kind is this?" Sara asked, as he pulled the cake out of the box and placed it in the center of the table in the breakroom.
"But chocolate is your favorite."
"It is. But—I once told Warrick there would be no cake in the breakroom when I left. That I would just be gone. And he would take over. According to Catherine, red velvet cake was his favorite, so…it's just a private joke between the two of us. Well, now the three of us since you know."
She put her arms around him and hugged him tightly. Somewhere out there, Gil knew Warrick was giving him whatever the cool version of a "thumbs-up" was.
"Second thoughts?" She asked him.
"No. I'm ready to go. More than ready. I did what I had to do. And…that's it."
Warrick's murderer was dead himself. The undersheriff did not go quietly into the night. He supposed he didn't blame the man for that part. He would not have been treated kindly in prison. Now, he could rot in hell just a tiny bit sooner than he would have.
"Should I get everyone in here?" Sara asked.
"In a moment. Just…let me hold you for a second."
She tightened her grip around him. Leaving the true lab—the people—wouldn't be easy. And he wasn't taking the coward's way out after all. These men and women were as close to him as family, and he wanted to say a proper goodbye.
But, when the door shut behind his career, he wouldn't look back. He had done a good job. They had done good jobs. They had made a difference.
But, now they had a future to face. And endless possibilities seemed to stretch out far and wide.
He thought of his favorite F-word and how it all began today.
A/N: Geez. What en epic. Again, a short story run totally amok.
I know this is somewhat similar (at least in theme) to Monsoon Season, and it all stemmed from the same challenge. I just had a lot more to say than I thought I did, and…well, I do my own editing. And, this time, instead of kamikaze self-beta! I was wimpy self- beta! It's summer. I'm too lazy to sharpen the sword.