02 – When Words are Scarce

When words are scarce, sometimes the gift must speak for the giver. Especially when the giver is one Gil Grissom.

Takes place between episodes 411, “Eleven Angry Jurors” and 412, “Butterflied,”

Christmas 2003

*******

Sara, Nick and Warrick were in the process of packing up for the day when Grissom paused in his progress down the hallway to pop his head in the door. 

“Sara, can you stop by my office before you go?” he asked, but had already vanished before Sara, more than a little bewildered, could stammer, “Yeah, sure.”

Nick, finishing sealing up the last of the boxes with evidence tape, shook his head and looking almost as discomforted as if he had been the one who had received the unexpected summons asked, “What did you do this time?”

This time? Sara had to keep herself from echoing. Instead, she merely shrugged and answered in as nonchalant a tone as she could muster, “Nothing that I know of.”

Although if she was being honest with herself, her relationship with the said Gil Grissom, purely professional as it was these days, and was likely to always remain, had soured of late.

Soured? No, it was much more than that.

But she was spared from having to follow that train of thought to its not so pleasant conclusion by Nick giving her a now solicitous smile as he said, “You up for a holiday drink afterwards?” 

“Very,” Sara readily agreed.

“If you ever manage to get out of here,” Warrick chuckled in commiseration.

Sara, being Sara, had come in half a shift early because Swing had been short and the holidays seemed to bring out the worst in people just as often as the best.

As she peered down at her watch, she determined that if she managed to leave within the next fifteen minutes, she would just barely be under the wire for maxing out on her overtime yet again, and she certainly didn’t relish spending the last six days of the year being hold up in the lab. 

“Want us to wait?” Nick asked, as he and Warrick started packing the cartons out towards evidence storage.

“Nah,” she said, quickly returning her attention to the report in front of her. Just two more minutes and she could scrawl her signature at the bottom of the page and the case would be closed. “Go ahead. I’ll catch up.”

But once Nick and Warrick had gone, Sara found it a lot harder to concentrate on the paperwork and far easier for her to muse over the not so pleasant occurrences of the last couple of months.

More than two months had come and gone since her traitorous over-talking mouth had blurted out that she had hoped that anything that happened or didn’t happen between her and Grissom wouldn’t be a factor in his decision of who to promote to the new key position, and Grissom had been cross and rather distant with her ever since then.

Then just five weeks ago, he had managed to royally piss her off. She was still furious with him about the whole missing showgirl case being taken away from her and Nick and given to Catherine (and Greg, of all people) because Catherine thought she had some sort of in with the suspect. While that had proven true, Grissom’s decision had felt like a betrayal. Like he didn’t have faith in their — or more precisely her — abilities as a criminalist.

So now that they both seemed more irked with each other than anything, the best policy seemed to be for each of them to actively avoid the other. Something that had proven a lot easier since Grissom was continuing in the practice he had begun during the summer of having her work mostly with Nick, while he and Catherine were often partnered on cases together. Warrick didn’t seem to notice or mind that he was often split between the two pairs. 

Not affect his decision, yeah right, she sighed irritably and hastily slammed the case folder closed. She should have just kept her big mouth shut and not said anything. But the words had just spilled out in the heat of the moment. She wasn’t sure why, but having him near her like that, touching her in that particular way, had thrown her for a loop. So much so, that she just couldn’t seem to help opening her mouth and inserting her foot.

But just the week before, there had been a moment when she thought, had even hoped that….

No, she was not going to finish that thought.

Though the memory had been nice. The two of them had both been crawling around searching the carpet in the jury room for any sign of a six-legged, black and yellow striped killer. Perhaps, it had been the absurdity of the whole situation, that with a room full of eleven angry people all with apparent motive, opportunity and hefty amounts of malice, an innocent interloper had done the deed.

Although innocent wasn’t exactly the way Sara thought of bees. She wasn’t sure if it was because they stung or what, all she knew, was she wasn’t all that keen on being around them when they were alive.

At first, she had had a hard time getting used to the whole bug and decomposing bodies circle of life thing, but after three years of working with Grissom, she found she didn’t mind the beetles and flies as much. 

But bugs of every shape and size and color seemed to fascinate Grissom. He had looked almost gleeful as he peered at the dead bee she had trapped between her forceps and had even made a joke, not a good joke mind you, but Grissom always had a strange sense of humor. Still, he had cracked a joke about it all being an outside job and the two of them had shared a smile, just like they used to do when she had first come to Vegas, before everything had gotten complicated.

Complicated, now that was an understatement.

As that just seemed to be the current state of things, she was naturally more than a little leery of what his sudden summons might portend. She took a deep breath, slowly let it out and decided to get whatever it was he wanted over with.

Oh, yeah, she really was going to need that drink later.

*******

“Grissom, you…” she began, hoping her voice sounded more calm and collected to his ears than it did to her own. She stopped short though, noticing he was busy on the phone. She mouthed I’ll come back later and was about to turn to go, when he beckoned for her to enter and have a seat.

For her part, Sara decided to linger in the doorway and listen to Grissom take down the details of his latest page. She tried not to fidget as she waited for him to finish.

Replacing the receiver in its cradle, he glanced up and seemed surprised to find her not sitting in the chair in front of him.

“You wanted to see me, Grissom?” Sara said, uncrossing her arms at the inquiring look he was giving her.

“Yes,” he replied, gesturing for her to sit once again, which she reluctantly did and waited for him to continue. He, however, seemed to be trying to buy himself some time by slowly pulling off his spectacles.

If she didn’t know better, Sara thought Grissom looked nervous.

This can’t be good, she thought. This really can’t be good.

She was about to open her mouth to say something, anything, to put an end to the increasingly uncomfortable stretch of silence, when he said, “I have something for you.”

Sara tried not to cringe, thinking that he was about to pass her yet another assignment slip. If that were the case, there was no chance in hell that she would get out in time to meet up with the guys, and she could kiss her field time for the rest of the month good-bye.

When he placed a neatly wrapped package down on top of the desk in front of her, she couldn’t hide her surprise. She stared down at the brown paper package tied up with string for a long while before she reluctantly admitted, “I didn’t get you anything.”

He gave her what she thought was an almost a shy sort of smile and said, as if he were trying to downplay what he had done, “It’s just something I’ve been meaning to give you for a while.”

Still dumbstruck, Sara continued to gape, not caring about how silly she must have looked.

“Go on,” he gently urged. “It won’t bite if you open it.”

“That sounds ominous,” she chuckled nervously, but began to strip the string and paper away to reveal an old and rather well thumbed volume.

“Something for when you can’t sleep,” he continued; then as she turned the book over and over in her hands, “I know it’s a little worn. It was one of my undergrad textbooks. But while they discover new insect species all the time, the basics still remain the same. I’ve always found it useful and thought that you might, too.”

When she met his eyes at this, Grissom gave her another slight smile.

“Well, entomology is our friend,” she replied, intentionally echoing one of Grissom’s almost legendary maxims and his grin.

“You might find the plate between pages 192 and 193 interesting,” he added, leaning forward to flip the pages.

When the book lay open to the appropriate page, Sara didn’t have to be able to translate the Latin name printed beneath the sketch to identify the specimen.

“Our latest killer,” she said appreciatively.

Grissom nodded. “Well, she did have a little help,” he replied.

She returned her gaze to the book. Her eyes went wide in delight as she continued to thumb through the center color pages.

Sara let out an impressed sigh, “These plates are stunning.”

“The editors assembled them from the best collections of prints from the last 200 years,” he explained.

“For a textbook?” she asked incredulous. The textbooks she remembered had been glossy, slick and almost clinical. This book was something far different entirely.

“I guess they realized that you can’t truly understand the wonders of science until you can appreciate their beauty.”

She started slightly at this, curiously reminded in that moment of the night they had both been seated in the stands of a hockey rink and talk of sports had somehow turned to a discussion on beauty and Grissom without even bothering to look up at her from his notes had remarked Since I met you, when she had asked, Since when are you interested in beauty? But before she had had time to digest his comment, let alone make a reply to it, he had shifted back into work mode. A deflection tactic he seemed to be employing yet again, as he said, “Anyway, I just thought since you were such a quick learner before, it might come in handy.”

Sara refrained from shaking her head in bemusement. Same old Grissom. And found that while she didn’t know quite what to say in response to his gift, she did know something she could do. Suddenly neither drinks with the guys, nor her overtime issues seemed quite so important. She gestured to the freshly completed assignment slip. “You need a hand with that?” she asked.

He shook his head. “Just a routine B&E. Days is just a little short-staffed because of the holiday.”

“When aren’t they?” she queried.

“True,” he smiled slightly. “But, I’ll be fine.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah. Besides, I’m sure you have other plans,” he said and Sara wasn’t sure if he was fishing or just being considerate, either option a departure from his usual modus operandi.

“Not really,” she replied.

Grissom seemed to reconsider her offer. “See you out in front in ten?” he asked after a moment.

“Yeah,” she smiled and got to her feet. She paused at the door to turn back and say, indicating the book in her hand as she did so, “Thank you. It means a lot.”

And it did. She wasn’t going to try to read too much into the gift, but the fact that he had thought of giving her something he valued so highly meant more than she quite had the words for at the moment. She just hoped he understood that.

And perhaps he did, for his smile was warmer than she had seen it in a long time when he said, “You’re welcome. Merry Christmas, Sara.”

“And you.”

 

*******

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