Author's Note: This is one of the first stories I wrote when I started watching CSI. I set it aside, and then after a few weeks I hacked some of the ridiculous stuff out of it. Here it is, actually edited and hopefully not significantly worse than my later stories. I was less familiar with the characters at the time. It takes place following "Butterflied," and it is possible that I had not even seen the whole episode yet, much less in context of the show or the season, but had only viewed clips on YouTube. Yikes. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: If I owned them, I'd be in a dark room having lots of girl/boy/girl smoochies. Don't look shocked. You would, too.
Grissom reached out an unsteady hand to the desk in front of him. It had been a long day—another double shift for him—and it was only threatening to continue. The piles of paperwork stared at him from the surface of his desk, and he rubbed his other hand wearily over his face. Coffee, maybe some from Greg's stash, would do the trick, and he could get in at least an hour or two examining reports for court before going home and collapsing.
A sharp rap at the door startled him, and he looked up, his gaze momentarily bleary. It was Sara, of course—first one in and last to leave. He could not even manage to drag a smile to his face, so he nodded briefly and she slipped inside, closing the door behind her. Even exhausted, his ever-examining mind noticed the privacy she had created and wondered at it.
"Grissom, we need to talk." Her voice was truly soft, as it almost never was, but her face was still alert, eyes shielded and unreadable. He was instantly on edge, his weariness sloughing away like an abandoned cocoon. Almost no one would notice the slight clenching of his jaw, the shift in his eyes from grey-blue to a more intense blue, the tightening of the muscles in his shoulders, so imperceptible that even a close friend might miss the signs of his awareness. But not Sara. A blink, and her chin came up slightly, her head cocking a bit to one side. In the most subtle ways, they were preparing for battle, walls coming up and verbal weapons at the ready. They saw it in themselves, and in one another, and for a moment, he was almost breathless at how similar they truly were.
He inhaled slowly, exuding calm. "Sit down."
She remained standing, arms rising to cross over her chest. "You didn't get a confession, did you." It was a statement, not a question.
He quirked one eyebrow, slowly resuming a seated position in his desk chair, his eyes never leaving hers. "From?"
"From the good doctor," Sara said sharply, and Grissom tensed further when he saw an infinitesimally small tremble touch her lower lip and then vanish as she pressed her lips tightly together. When Sara became emotional, it was more difficult for him than almost any other situation he could face. Not, as she assumed, because he was cold and unfeeling, but rather because he was uncertain as to how he should behave—how to comfort her as her boss, how to be there as a friend, never crossing his lines or hers, never saying or doing the wrong thing and making things worse. It was the sort of puzzle he feared he could never solve.
"No," he said simply. Sara might prattle at times, and indeed was far more likely to if he showed signs of being particularly taciturn, but he could not bring himself to engage in conversation easily when the signs of a pit being dug beneath him were becoming so rapidly apparent. Her fingers tensed slightly against the flesh of her arm, digging in, and he realized that whatever she had come to talk with him about had her very worked up, though she was trying to hide it. It was almost certainly mere moments before she exploded.
"Why not?" she asked, and her tone was elevated now, closer to normal Sara volume. He steepled his fingers together and rested his elbows on his desk, allowing his gaze to fall to its surface.
"Why not?" he repeated, his own tone questioning. "Because we don't get a confession every time. That rarely matters, Sara, if we follow the evidence. Most of the time it leads us to the truth without corroboration, even from the one who left it behind."
"But you told him such a very good story," she burst out, and Grissom's breath caught harshly in his chest. His head never lifted from the desk, his fingers never trembled in their customary entwined position, but inside, he was trembling violently, and forcing the tremors not to find their way to the surface. She had heard. Somehow, she had heard.
"It wasn't enough," he said mildly. Instantly, he knew the words had been a mistake. He could almost feel the heat shimmering from her skin, her barely contained rage bubbling to the surface. He could read her with his eyes averted, with them closed, with her beside him or across a room. She was furious.
"What wasn't enough, Grissom? Your story, or my offer? Your interrogation techniques, or my love?"
At the word love, he lifted his head, and he saw angry tears shimmering in her eyes. "I thought we were talking about the interrogation," he said calmly, while the turmoil in his chest threatened to smother him.
"Stop it!" Sara screamed, and immediately he was up, coming around the desk, seizing her by her upper arms. Tears had slid down her flushed cheeks, but he ignored them. Using the slightest amount of force, he guided her to sit down in a chair and towered above her, his fingers reluctantly releasing her, more out of fear of another outburst than desire to linger on her skin. His eyes burned into hers.
"Do not raise your voice in this office again," he said quietly, his voice harsher than he meant it to be. His fear—of what, precisely? he asked himself—was choking.
Sara caught at his wrists and dragged him down, awkwardly, sheer emotion making her strong enough to pull him eventually to his knees in front of her. His embarrassment must have shown on his face, but she seemed oblivious. If it were not almost certain that the building would be all but deserted at this point between shifts, he would have risen immediately upon her releasing him. But she did not release him, and he did not rise.
"Don't," she whispered, and the sound was a half-swallowed sob. "God, Grissom, don't. You're so calm, and so serene, and so good. And I hate you for it."
His eyes searched her face, and he did indeed remain calm. But something inside him twisted, shriveled, at the word hate.
"I heard you," she continued, her voice the same thick whisper. "I was on the other side of the glass, and I heard your story. Is that what I offered you? A new life?" Sara laughed bitterly. "I was just offering you all I had—myself. But the risk isn't worth it. The job is everything to you, and apparently, it doesn't even matter that you're completely alone."
Another twist, another sensation of something deep inside him shrinking and dying. He had at last realized aloud his desire for her, and all she had heard was that she was not worth the risk to his job. And he could not say she was wrong. He could not find the words to say that it was not her, that he would not suffer anyone or anything putting his life's work in jeopardy.
Her hands pulled away from his, and he came back to the moment, realized that until just then their hands had been still clasped together. Her face was wet with tears, and twisted in anger and grief. He knew instinctively that his was still unmoved, placid-seeming, even, and that a moment of brokenness would be all she wanted to see, and all he could not give.
"I am alone," he said lightly, rubbing the palms of his hands lightly against his thighs. "And so are many people. Sara, I told him a story of middle-aged men, a story played out in thousands, perhaps millions of lives every year. I tried to sway him by identifying with him. It's not an unusual interrogation method."
"Oh, no," Sara laughed, the sound like razors against glass. "Don't lie to me, Grissom, not now. You were talking about me, about us, and you're only denying it now because you found out that I was there the whole time."
"It was hypothetical, Sara," Grissom repeated, his voice rising slightly for the first time. He stood slowly, knees aching from the time spent kneeling on the cold floor. "Don't do this."
"Don't do what?" Sara asked softly, standing as well. She was close to him, so close he could feel the heat of her breath on his face. He wanted to close his eyes, to lean in to that heat, to stop fighting so very hard to be everything she was apparently coming to hate. He steeled himself and remained very still.
"Don't pick a fight with me because you're still unhappy with my decision," he said, and lifted his eyes to stare directly into hers. They both knew exactly what he was talking about, but neither cared to relive the awkward moment by recalling details.
"Unhappy? I'm miserable. And I am picking a fight. But I'm doing it because you're lying to me, Gris." Her arms crossed again, this time more loosely, over her stomach. "Just say it, and I'll go. I'll stop screaming, stop crying, stop making you uncomfortable. Just say, 'I was talking about you, Sara. I was talking about us. And I decided you're not worth it.'"
"I offered him a false sense of camaraderie, Sara, as a last resort. I pretended to sympathize with his situation, even understand it, and I said that I could not make the same decision that he did, all in an attempt to get a confession. But that's all."
Her hands flew out so unexpectedly that he had no time to stumble backward before they were entangled in his black jacket, yanking him so close that her lips were practically pressed to his neck. His heart pounded violently against his chest. He felt her fingers sliding beneath the jacket, against his shirt, down his chest and waist to his hips, lingering just above his belt. She was no longer holding him to her by force, but he could not move as her nimble hands tugged his shirt free of his waistband and slid beneath, touching his skin. Her fingers were warm against him, and he remained so still he almost forgot to breathe.
"I'll touch you without latex gloves," she hissed out next to his ear, and he flinched. Her fingers slid upward, toward his chest, and now he did move, taking a step back, but this only brought them face to face, her hands still pressed against his body. Eyes gazing darkly into his, she whispered, "Can you touch me?"
Perfectly still. He had to stay perfectly still. It was as if she was a wild animal he was seeking to placate, to escape from.
Sara's fingers slid from his body, dropping limply to her sides. He watched her face crumple, imagined he could see her heart literally breaking in front of him. "Guess not," she choked, and dropped back to the chair.
The final twist wrenched inside him, and a soft sound escaped through his lips, a sound of desperation and pain. Her eyes lifted to his.
"Grissom?" she whispered.
He could not do it. So much pain in her life, most only guessed or hinted at, for she was as private as he. Yet he sensed it, and he could not bear to be the cause of more. Not anymore.
"Sara," he said softly. Something in his voice startled her. Was it the unexpected warmth, the brush of desire he could not quite keep from it? So many moments with her were light, flirtatious, subtle and unimportant. This was not one of them.
"Tell me," she demanded, her voice stronger. She rose again, trembling.
"It was meant to be hypothetical," he murmured. Her lips were stained with tears, and he knew they would taste of salt. "But I could not help thinking of you." His mind drifted back to the conversation. "Somebody young and beautiful. Somebody…I could care about."
"But you couldn't do it. Couldn't risk it."
"No," he agreed. "No, I couldn't."
Her eyes fell to the floor.
"But I will."
She never lifted her eyes, never made any indication with her expression that she had heard his words. For a moment, she imitated his stillness, and then she leaned into him once more, chest against chest, her chin resting on his shoulder. Her arms did not come up around him, and her lips did not seek out his. She merely stood, feet interwoven with his stance, pressed against him from hip to shoulder. As he tentatively raised his arms to embrace her, he felt the shudder of sobs rack her body.
"Sara," he murmured. He laid one hand lightly against the small of her back and wrapped the other loosely around her shoulders. He was hugging her, and she was crying. It was a little unexpected, after what he had just said.
She sniffed and pulled back a little. "You will what?"
"Risk it," he said simply. She jerked away.
"For you, Sara," Grissom said slowly. "I'll risk it for you."
She stared at him blankly. "I don't believe you."
He studied her for a moment, so intently that she felt like a bug on a pin. "What?" she demanded at last, squirming under the scrutiny.
"I'm trying to decide how to make you believe me," he said wryly. "Close your eyes."
She gave him a sideways look and then complied. Still so close to her that she could feel the warmth of his body, she startled at the sensation of his fingers at her throat. Slowly, with the barest brush of fingertips, he trailed his touch over her collarbones, her shoulders, her upper arms. Lightly he traced down her chest, the back of his fingers sliding over each breast, then switching back to the tips of his fingers as he slid them over her stomach and down to her hips. Even in this intimate moment, he remained somehow respectful, but every inch of her skin thrummed, responding to his touch.
When he stepped back, she allowed her eyes to drift open, aware that her lips were slightly parted, that her breath was coming faster, and that her nipples had tightened just under the brush of the back of his hand. "Grissom."
He held up his hands, displaying them with the slightest of wry smiles on his face. "No gloves."
She surged forward, seizing him by the jacket again, this time pressing her lips hard to his. She felt him start to pull away and slid a hand behind his head, holding him to her. She slid a leg between his and moved still closer, her thigh pressed between his legs, the hand not tangled in his hair slipping once more under his shirt and brushing against his skin.
"Sara—Sara," he said into her kisses, and finally she lifted her head, staring into his eyes breathlessly. "No."
"You said you would risk it, Gris," she replied. "So start."
To her shock, a soft growl escaped his mouth, and this time it was he who kissed her, his arms wrapping around her waist. He guided her backwards until she was pressed against the wall, trapped between it and his body. With shaking hands, he caught her wrists and lifted them beside her flushed face.
"Remember this?" he asked, his voice a rasp in his throat. "I've thought about it a hundred times since you asked me to." Sara's eyes were dark as she stared into his. "I never pinned your wrists to the wall, not wanting to destroy evidence." He cleared his throat. "Never wanting you to feel truly overpowered by me." He saw by her expression that she remembered the case perfectly, that what he had experienced in that moment had not been felt by him alone. "I've always wondered what I might do when faced with that request once more."
Sara swallowed slightly. "Pin me down," she said, her tone nowhere near as casual as the one she had affected that long ago day. Grissom took a step closer and pressed her wrists against the wall. She felt arousal so strong it was almost pain wash through her and settle low in her body.
"So little courage," he murmured, his eyes burning as they raked over her body, pinned against his office wall. "So careful, so calm. No wonder you hate me."
She laughed shakily. "Oh, yes. I hate you."
"No," she said seriously. "No more than I hate myself."
"Oh," he said simply, as if they were merely conversing at his desk once more, instead of in an intimate and compromising position.
Sara writhed slightly in his grasp, and Grissom fought back a swell of longing. "Don't do that," he said huskily, and she laughed again.
"This is a little risky, sure," she said, twisting her wrists in his grasp again. "But not enough."
"And what would be enough?" he asked, conversationally. "Would you like me to take you here on my desk?"
Such simple words, in the logical, slightly sarcastic Grissom tone, and she wanted to pass out from the lightheadedness they caused. "Yes," she breathed, and he frowned. "But—no. No, that's too risky."
"Then what?" He could have been questioning her about evidence in the lab.
"Take me home," she said softly, and leaned forward enough to brush his lips with hers again. The kiss was gentle, delicate, and poised on a razor's edge.
He froze, pulling back. "I'm not sure that I can."
"You have to," Sara said simply. "This is it, Gil." His eyes widened at her use of his first name. "Take me home, now, or I walk out this door and never come back. We both know the truth now, and I won't pretend anymore. I don't know that I'm offering you a new life with a young beautiful woman." She smiled wryly. "But I am offering you everything I can."
Slowly, he moved away, and her face fell. He walked back to the desk, picked up a stack of papers. "Follow me," he said, and walked out of the office.
Sara followed him numbly, through the building, out into the parking lot. He got into his car, motioning to hers. "Follow me," he repeated, and she drove behind him through the streets of Las Vegas, blinking at the afternoon sun.
They reached his home, and she parked on the street, watching him as he got out of the car. She followed him into the house, down the hall, into his bedroom. She stopped still on the threshold, staring at him as he set his papers down on the dresser and turned to her.
"Come in," he said, a smile playing on his lips, and she stepped shyly into the room, taking in the beautiful displays of butterflies on every wall. Her shins abruptly bumped against the edge of the bed, and she stopped, gazing at him across its expanse.
"This is the riskiest thing I can imagine," he said honestly, slowly taking off his coat. Sara's hand fluttered to her throat. His fingers reached for the top button of his shirt, brilliantly blue eyes never leaving hers. "But I can't lose this last chance." He jerked his chin at her. "Your turn."
She stared wordlessly at him, then at the jacket lying carelessly on the bed. "What do you mean?"
He blinked slowly, studying her. "Your turn," he repeated, offering no clarification.
Trembling, she undid the buttons of her blouse, letting the navy silk fall open against her pale skin. He shook his head. "Not quite enough."
Sara ran her tongue over her lips, finding herself so overcome with desire and fear that she could go no further. Her lips moved almost soundlessly. "Grissom…"
In a moment, he was around the bed, standing behind her, gently tugging the shirt from her shoulders and letting it slip to the floor between them. His lips pressed lightly to her neck, and she was undone. She whirled in his arms and kissed him furiously, the sensation of his body against hers electrifying, the feel of his mouth on hers delicious. He was kissing her back, but gently, calmly, a port in her storm. She raised her fists and pounded them lightly against his chest once.
"Why?" she gasped, her fists opening to allow her greedy fingers to roam his skin. "Why can't you lose control, just once, just with me?"
"I could," Grissom replied, fingers running lightly through her hair. He paused, and she raised dark eyes to his face. Still so serene, still so very Grissom. "It would be very simple, but probably a little dangerous."
"Lose it," she demanded, unbucklinghis belt. Her fingers fumbled with buttons, a zipper. "Be dangerous with me. You're taking risks now, right?"
The same low growl he had loosed in the office earlier was in his throat now. "What has gotten into you today?"
Sara froze and looked at him, trying to read his expression and failing. "I just want to know something," she said finally, shifting uncomfortably. "Do you really think about that moment?"
He did not ask her which moment she meant. He merely nodded, one brief dip of his head. She drew in a breath.
"So do I."
"And?" His voice was so deceptively calm.
"And when you pinned me to the wall, really held me there, and looked at me, it was better than any recollection or dream."
His breathing was slightly ragged. "Sara."
She lifted her hand again, this time to brush against his cheek. He turned, pressing a kiss to the palm.
"I want you to lose control because you're so together that it makes me insecure," she explained in low tones. "I want to see what Gil Grissom looks like emotional, passionate, unrestrained."
The kiss continued down to her wrist. Her vision unfocused, and she let out a shuddering sigh. His lips traveled slowly to the inside of her elbow as his hand lightly grasped her wrist. She inhaled sharply. "I'm so afraid."
He froze, lips hovering above her skin. "Of?"
"How much I could love you."
He drew away, releasing her wrist. Fear welled up in her chest.
"Could love me?"
So soft, his voice was so very soft.
"Yes," she murmured, the word verging on a moan. She was ready to shatter into a million pieces, on the brink of lust and despair. "And how much I already do."
His body was against hers, and she was flat on her back on the bed, buried beneath his frame. His lips touched hers, and they were fierce, demanding her response and relishing it. Fingers brushed the bare skin of her stomach, her collarbone, and played against the black lace of her bra. She arched upward slightly, a soft moan escaping into his mouth.
"You're mine," he whispered against her lips, his words urgent. He closed his hands over her wrists, pinning them above her head. She writhed against him, eyes wide and dark. She knew instinctively that those words were always the ones that fell from his lips when he replayed the scene in his mind, when he imagined stepping her back one more pace and truly pinning her against the white sheet. She did not respond. She did not need to.
And after that moment of intensity and need, he became everything she had imagined he would be—gentle, loving, adoring. His eyes swept over every inch of revealed skin moments before his fingers or lips, and he murmured her name repeatedly, like a mantra. She lost herself in his gaze, his kisses, and everything became a heated blur. When his hands slipped under her hips and lifted her to him, she gripped his shoulders tightly, her breath coming in gasps.
"Gil," she whispered, and he was inside her, and she spun out of control, crying out his name against his shoulder. He filled her completely, repeatedly, and when he came, his mouth pressed to her neck, she trembled. Nothing had ever prepared her for this day, this moment, and she realized with a sweet sadness that she had never been with someone she was so very much in love with before.
He raised himself up, reaching for the blankets and wrapping them around her. She smiled faintly, wondering how he had known that the moment his body had left hers she had felt a distinct chill. His hand found hers, tangled their fingers together.
"I may regret this," he started slowly, and the chill spread to her heart and stilled it. Here it was. Even his apparent loss of control was too brief, and now would come the discussion. He really was nothing like Lurie, and he had not been wrong. Lurie could risk everything for passion, for love, but Grissom could not, would not, despite what he had said a few hours before. Or maybe he considered this to be his promise to risk everything for her; maybe he considered one evening of sex enough of a challenge to the gods.
"Don't," she choked out, wrapping the blanket more tightly around herself. "God, Grissom, please don't say it."
He looked at her, confusion and hurt warring on his features. "If you'd rather I didn't, then I suppose—"
"Wait," Sara said, stopping him and squeezing his hand. "I'm sorry. Say what you were going to say."
He swallowed. "I may regret this," he repeated, even more slowly than before. Sara felt her pulse hammering in her throat. "But I want to tell you, before I lose my nerve. This won't be easy for me, Sara. There can't be anything at work, nothing to suggest to anyone that something is going on between us. I'll do whatever I need to do to prevent the problems that could arise, and you have to be prepared for that."
She nodded, hope beginning to blossom in her chest. "Of course."
He moved then, wrapping his arms around her, pressing his lips to her hair. "But away from work, when it's just us…" She trembled a little, and he kissed her forehead, drawing away just enough to look into her eyes. "I want there to be a lot of time when it's just us."
She nodded again, a smile breaking out across her face. "Me too. Are you going to kiss me again?"
Grissom's smile turned genuine. "I was planning on it." He pressed his mouth to hers, sweetly, with just enough passion that her breathing sped up slightly once more. When he moved away, his face was a little flushed.
"This isn't easy for me. Finding the right words."
She stroked his cheek. "I know."
"No, Sara." He clenched his jaw slightly. "Just give me a minute."
She grinned wickedly. "Gil, I don't expect it again quite so soon."
His flush deepened. "Not that."
He drew her into his arms again, his breath stirring her hair. His lips were so close to her ear, and she shivered. "Sara."
"I'm not afraid."
She inhaled. "Of what?"
"Of how much I could love you."
Tears sprang to her eyes, and she fought back a gasp, a sob. "Could love me?" she whispered, allowing the tide of their previous conversation to flow in the opposite direction, back out to sea.
"Yes," and she clung to him, waited, her eyes clenched shut. "Yes," he repeated even more softly, arms holding her close.
"And how much I already do."