Again, English is not my native language. If you find an annoying writing error in this story, please email me (instead of mentioning it in a review) and I will correct it immediately.
Author's note: Thank you all so much for the positive feedback! Now as promised: the third and final part…
Sara put the bag away. "So, and what does Christmas Eve bring us?"
"We don't have a case yet."
"No assignment?" she exclaimed, sounding like a child who didn't have a playmate for the afternoon and couldn't entertain herself.
"No, the only case was a suicide that I wrapped up in two seconds."
"Are you sure it was a suicide?" Sara teased him. "Maybe you should take another look at it, just to be certain. Give the sheriff something to do."
Grissom's response was a dead glare.
She sighed. "Then what are we supposed to do in the meantime?"
"Well, you're behind in your paperwork."
Sara crinkled her nose in disgust. That wasn't a very entertaining suggestion. The whole idea of spending Christmas Eve with writing reports did not sound very appealing to her.
"I have a better idea. Why don't we grab something to eat first? Something that doesn't have 'toxic waste' written all over it." She was obviously referring to the things Nick always put in the microwave.
Grissom frowned. "I don't know," he said slowly, looking from Sara to the microscope.
"C'mon Grissom, live a little."
He simply raised his eyebrows.
She grinned. He was right. As if she was the perfect example of living the full amount of life. "Well, just for this evening then. Come on," she said persuasively when she saw him hesitate, "We can order take-out. Chinese, Mexican, Italian, whatever you want. Just because we have to work tonight, doesn't mean that we can't have a real Christmas dinner."
"All right then," Grissom accepted reluctantly. He was just in the middle of dissecting a cockroach they'd found on a body. It was really interesting – at least to him – but he couldn't resist the begging look on Sara's face. "Let's have dinner."
A huge smile curled upon her lips. "I will order right away. What would you like?"
"Chinese sounds good."
"A little of everything?"
"I will be right back."
Grissom's eyes narrowed as he watched Sara leave his office. This was the first time he had let a woman talk him into dropping what he was doing, the first time he chose pleasure over work. How did she do that?
Twenty minutes later the food was delivered.
"Grissom, dinner is ready!" Sara shouted from the break room.
Grissom smiled, shaking his head. The way she sounded made him think of husband and wife. The man comes home from work; the woman has dinner ready.
He let his work for what it was and walked to the break room, where he was in for another surprise. Sara had set the table for them.
"Just thought to make it a little cozier," she explained herself. "It's nothing."
That wasn't true. Grissom knew for sure that the dinner tables in the Stokes', Willows' and Brown's homes were all far more beautiful than theirs was. The plates were cheap, the whine glasses dull and a plastic Christmas tablecloth – decorated with Christmas trees and reindeers – completed the whole poor picture.
But that didn't matter. Sara had done the effort to make this night just a little more special than any other night. For a moment it made them both feel like normal people, with normal jobs and normal lives. They'd probably be bored stiff within the day though. A normal life was not meant for them. They both needed the thrill, the rush from solving crimes, but it was still nice to pretend for just one evening that they were normal.
As Grissom looked at Sara he suddenly realized what had troubled him all night long. She shouldn't be so alone. She shouldn't be here at all. When their eyes had locked earlier that evening, he had seen a trace of sadness in them. It had confused him back then, but now he knew why. Sara had set the table for them in an ordinary break room, while she should have been taken to a restaurant, have a steak with fried potatoes – oh no, she's a vegetarian, a vegetable burger then – and a glass of expensive wine. Instead they were sitting here, working on this special night because they didn't have anyone to spend it with. They were eating together because their own reservations kept them from having a social life. In that way they were so much the same.
Grissom sat down. "It looks delicious, Sara."
And it was. They had chicken and Chinese tomato soup, little shrimps, slivers of chicken and pork in a sour sauce, saté – which Sara had all pushed to his side – spring rolls, omelet, steamed vegetables and of course the rice, Chinese noodles and finally the fortune cookies.
Sara did most of the talking, sharing stories with him about her time at Harvard. About her teachers, her classmates and the pranks they played. As the hour went by the conversation became more frankly and she told Grissom about her loneliness at the university.
"No one understood my passion. While they were partying, really enjoying their college years and doing what was expected from a student, I took extra courses on the anatomy of bugs." She grinned when her supervisor gave a murmur of approval at her choice, then continued softly: "But sometimes I wished that I could have been more like them."
Grissom raised his eyebrows. "But then we wouldn't have met and you wouldn't be here with us now."
The two words gushed from her lips before she could stop them. Grissom jerked his head. The sudden honesty in her voice surprised him. What did she mean by that? Was it something more or was he just imagining things, hearing something that wasn't there?
"It's just that around this time of the year you truly realize that there is no one waiting for you at home," Sara added quickly. Her own revelation had shocked her as well. For just a few seconds she had let her heart speak instead of her mind.
Pensively she played with her napkin. Something was clearly on her mind. Before Grissom could ask what was wrong, she looked up. "I lied," she confessed.
"About what?" he asked puzzled.
"About tonight, about having plans. I didn't have plans. I lied about that friend going to her mother." She paused, then stated without any self-pity: "I don't have any friends to go to. Pathetic, huh?"
"I don't think you're pathetic, Sara."
Sara could not help but laugh.
"No, of course you don't think that. You're just like me. So either you're pathetic with me or we both aren't."
"I'd say the first."
Sara and Grissom both startled when an unexpected yet familiar voice sounded directly behind them. It was Catherine. She was leaning against the doorpost, a grin on her face.
"What are you doing here, Cath?" Sara asked surprised. "Is the party that boring?"
Her colleague laughed heartily. "Oh no, the party is great. I was just feeling sorry for you, so I thought I'd bring you some leftovers from dinner, but I see you already…"
Sara jumped up. "Oh, but we always have room for some dessert." She looked eagerly at the pieces of apple pie in Catherine's hand. "We don't want to waste anything of course."
Catherine caught the amused look on Grissom's face. "Apparently we don't." She handed the plate over to Sara. "Enjoy. And behave you two. Don't kill each other."
"We'll try," Sara said, a sparkle in her brown eyes.
"You too, Catherine," Grissom said. "Say hi to Lindsay from me."
"I will. Oh and Grissom?"
"Get some sleep. You're overworked."
Grissom gaped with astonishment. "Overworked? Why would you say that?"
Catherine pointed to a spot aboveSara. They all followed her gaze. A full red color spread on Sara's cheeks when she saw the mistletoe hanging above her, probably hung up by the cleaners.
"Any other man had already jumped on the opportunity, Gil." She paused then continued mischievously: "You can't mock with tradition."
With that and a playful wink in Grissom's direction, Catherine left the room, leaving behind two very confused people. Sara's blush deepened in color with Grissom's questioning eyes on her.
"You don't have to do anything you don't want to," she said. In her mind she was killing Catherine in the most horrible ways, over and over again.
Grissom's face gave nothing away. He just looked at her. Then without saying a word he stood up and walked up to her until they were standing only inches from each other. Sara didn't move back or forward. She closed her eyes, being aware of his slightly irregular breathing and close presence.
"Catherine was right. You shouldn't mock with tradition." He placed his hands on her shoulder and gently kissed her on her forehead.
Sara's eyes snapped open. Surprise was clearly written in them. "Grissom!"
"My grandfather used to kiss me like that! God, I had expected more from you." Sara had her voice under control, but her face betrayed her disappointment and even a trace of annoyance. It was because of her own feelings for him that she felt rejected. She paused, obviously searching for anything that wouldn't sound like: 'Grab me and kiss me now.'
Knowing that it wouldn't make any difference, Sara shook her head and turned around. Without a moment's thought – for the first time in ages being caught in the heat of the moment – Grissom grabbed her wrist and spun her around to face him. She flew straight into his arms. Before she could react or say anything, she felt his lips on hers. This time there was nothing brotherly or grandpa like to the kiss. It was unrestrained. So not like Grissom and so not like her.
Nevertheless, she answered his kiss with a passion that surprised them both, pulling him even closer. She had longed for this moment for so long. She just never knew how much until now.
A kiss that was born out of a dare had suddenly turned into something else, something much more. That wasn't the intention. In an impulsive move he had kissed her. It was uncharacteristic of him. He knew that. And normally this would never have happened, but somehow her comment had triggered something in him. When Sara said those words, she had - unintentionally of course - hurt him. And he wanted to prove her wrong. He wanted to show her that he was still... He was still what? A man? Alive? Maybe he needed to feel alive, if only for just a few seconds. Having her against him, hearing her heart beating in the same irregular rhythm as his. Yes, he needed to feel. Feel anything than the numbness he knew so well.
And so he had kissed her in a desperate attempt to feel. But now it seemed like he was being drawn into a whirlpool of conflicted emotions. He was losing control over the situation and he knew that if he would not back out soon, there would be no stopping. The thought alone scared the hell out of him.
Immediately Grissom pulled away. They parted, both flushed and breathing heavily.
Her hand trembled slightly as Sara brushed some stray hairs from her face. God, she had never expected this to happen. It had taken her completely off guard, and still she was not sure what to make out of it. When she'd felt his lips against hers, she had sensed his desperation, his longing even. But did he long for her, or was it something else? Had it been a mistake? Not on her part - the kiss had showed her that her feelings for him were even stronger than she had thought - but how did he feel? Why had he kissed her? Just to silence her, to prove her wrong?
She gazed into his eyes. They were expressionless again, two dark pools. If he felt anything for her then he sure knew how to hide it from her.
Trying not to let the emotions of her heart show on her face, Sara adopted an airy tone and said playfully: "Now, that was a kiss." A twinkle appeared in her eyes and her lips began to curl as she got over the initial shock.
Her light-hearted remark drove away the charged, tense atmosphere that filled the room. Grissom smiled relieved. What happened between them just then needed to be analyzed, to be defined, but not right now. He could not deal with the feelings their kiss had brought about in him yet. It was too complicated, too confusing, and definitely too dangerous. Because giving into them would mean opening up, letting her into his life, into his mind and into his heart.
Grissom knew that she was already slowly crumbling the wall he'd so carefully built around him. Sara was making her way straight to his heart, and soon there would be no stopping her. There was nothing he could do. The more he withdrew, pulled back, the closer she got. And maybe he didn't even want to try anymore. Maybe this was right.
He shivered when Sara brushed the back of her hand along side his cheek. This time there was no dust that needed to be wiped away. This time it was only her touch, the warmth of her fingers against his skin. Her touch was tender, showing her feelings without really expressing them. Sara had already seen the terror in his eyes. She did not want to chase him away completely.
"Merry Christmas, Grissom," she said warmly.
"Merry Christmas, Sara."
(to be continued in my fanfic 'Breaking Boundaries')
The end of the holiday season… :-( Did you like it? Please write a review and let me know. Thank you! - Karin -