Title: The Cabin – Paradise Lost
Author's Note: This is the third in the Cabin trilogy. I hope you enjoy.
Beta: Thanks to seattlecsifan and jellybeanchichi for going over this for me at the last minute. Your help is always appreciated.
Spoilers: No real spoilers – if someone doesn't know William Petersen is leaving the show, they obviously haven't been reading fan fiction.
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Slowing his Mercedes to a crawl, he rounded the bend in the road and looked for the large boulder on the side of the road. With the afternoon light filtering through the trees, the green of fir trees and underbrush gave a mossy glow, and he spotted his destination.
The dirt road leading off to the right gave him pause, though, when he contemplated driving his car over the massive ruts.
"Well, hell," he muttered under his breath as he jarred himself over the first deep hole.
He didn't have to go far to find the old truck parked under a dense canopy of alder branches. The clearing barely held enough room to accompany both vehicles, so he pulled up behind her car kind of cock-eyed, and shut down the engine.
"What am I doing here?" he asked himself. After all, Grissom had originally planned on heading north to Alaska to hunt up an old friend from his college days. Yet, here he sat – parked in a car in the middle of a forest. No one knew he was there. She sure as hell didn't. In fact, the last thing he'd heard from her, she was happy with her life.
Did he want to risk screwing up the peace and contentment she'd found? The answer came simply.
Somewhere along the way, he'd come to the realization that he needed to find his own sense of peace and contentment. Leaving CSI had been the first step. The best step had been in leaving Vegas. Now he understood how the city of sin could creep under the skin, slowly eating away the flesh until nothing but the bones of a man remained.
Pulling his keys from the ignition, he stepped out with a sense of anticipation, stood up enough to work out the kinks in his neck and back, and took the few steps to the trunk of his car. Popping it open, he stopped to really absorb the scene around him. The rustle of leaves mingled with the fresh scent of fir. Wisps of light filtered through the trees to provide glowing illumination to the dim world around him.
Reaching in he hefted his rucksack over his shoulder and slammed the trunk closed.
"She's right, it is beautiful," he murmured as he took his first steps along a well-worn trail.
One foot after another, he walked the path. With every stride, he noted his surroundings, enthralled. It seemed like the modern world slowly began to slip away. With the first quarter mile, he forgot the sound of slot machines. Within half a mile, the smell of exhaust fumes slowly dissipated as the fresh scent of ferns, moss, and trees brought in that damp, earthy scent.
Within a mile, the vivid rush of flashing neon was replaced by glowing greens and browns of every shade. He'd forgotten how much more alive nature was. He never had enough time to simply explore, and let himself do so with every step.
Then he walked out of the trees and his step faltered.
It was gloriously simple.
He didn't know which looked more stunning – the simple scene of cabin and pond, or the woman napping in the worn white Adirondack chair on the front porch.
Step-by-step, his feet moved forward. With every inch closer, he watched her with more than open eyes. She looked… rested. That was something he'd never associated with her, and something he would one day need to reconcile in his mind – that Sara Sidle, investigator of everything, could look so peaceful.
His nerves jittered a little and for the first time he second-guessed himself. Maybe he should have called and warned her that he was coming to visit. He couldn't believe his hand shook just a little as he raised it to run his palm over his beard.
For half a second, he thought about slowly backing away. What if she'd really moved on? It's not like they'd really talked in awhile. If anything, they'd each started to live for themselves instead of everyone else.
And Grissom liked the idea of having his own life – his own freedom.
For a couple of minutes, he stood at the base of the stairs with his eyes closed. His mind whirled over the possibilities. What right did he have to just show up? He wouldn't blame her if she knocked him flat on his butt. She'd done it once before – the day they met – although it had been metaphorical instead of literal. He could only imagine the stony glare she would…
"Hello, Gil," she said, a hint of amusement in her husky voice.
When had she gotten out of her chair and walked to the steps?
"Uh, hello, Sara," he responded, looking up at her.
"I see you found my sanctuary," she replied, spreading her arms around her.
"Yes, I did," he said, finally gaining control of his senses. Smiling at the grin on her face, he added, "It wasn't hard to find."
A couple of moments ticked by as he studied her face – and she studied his. He had no idea what she saw in his, but he saw something so settled and content in hers, he could only wonder how he'd thought her so beautiful before, when now she stood before his so stunning.
"I wasn't sure what I'd see," he murmured, and she cocked her head in question.
Wincing at the verbal slip, he elaborated, "The few times we've really talked, you've seemed so… relaxed. I wondered if you'd lost your curiosity."
As he spoke, he took the steps, until he stood right next to her. Running his palm over her cheek, he smiled, rubbed a thumb over her lower lip, and stared into her deep brown eyes.
"What's your diagnosis, Dr. Grissom?" she asked, her voice a breathy murmur.
"I think I see even more of you in there, my dear," he murmured.
He'd never get tired of being surprised by her; he certainly wasn't when she suddenly kissed him, spun around, squealed, and then pulled him into a hug. The constant surprises she provided had always been one of his favorite things – maybe the thing he loved most about her.
Laughter bubbled up into a chuckle, as he hugged her tight. For an instant, he felt over a decade younger.
"We need to talk," she sighed into his shoulder.
"Yeah, we do," he replied. "But not today. It's been so long, I just want… time."
When she put her hands on his face and stared into his eyes, he smiled.
"We have all the time in the world," she said. "Tonight, we'll get settled."
When she grabbed his hand, he followed her into the cabin, with its ugly green couch. The bookshelf grabbed his attention immediately, as he dropped his sack onto the floor next to the door. After she let go of his hand, Grissom wandered to the massive number of books crammed into the one multi-level wooden shelf and began to read the well-worn bindings. Reaching out, he slipped a leather-bound volume from the shelf, gingerly opened it, and smiled.
"Everything on the shelves is free to be read by whoever stays here," Sara said. "It's tradition. My foster father would be honored to have you read it."
"While fishing?" Grissom asked, his voice teasing. He still clearly remembered the phone call he'd received so long ago, to let him know the pond she'd fished in for over twenty years held no fish. She'd been so outraged…
"I find it's the perfect time for a good story," she replied, pulling a well-worn copy of Little Women from the shelf.
"Well, you can read that book all you want," Sara wryly remarked. "I've never been a huge Milton fan."
With an exaggerated wounded look on his face, he asked, "Who wouldn't love Paradise Lost?"
Rolling her eyes, she settled into the corner of the couch and gestured for him to take a seat. Side-by-side, they sunk into stories, letting themselves drift into imagination. She read of a girl named Jo.
He read of Paradise.