05 – The Truth Will Out

When Grissom tries to find out why Sara is so assiduously avoiding him, he discovers that no matter how hard we try to avoid the truth and those to whom it pertains, the truth will out in the end. 

Circa early May 2005

*******

Avoidance Interrupted

“If I didn’t know better, I’d swear you’ve been avoiding me for the last few days.”

The complete absence of Gil Grissom’s almost-legendary contentious tone startled Sara from out of her deep absorption in the evidence laid out in front of her. This inexplicable departure from the widely accepted and expected norm captured her attention far more than if Grissom had shouted her name over the lab’s PA system.

After a moment’s puzzled pause, she hazarded a hurried glance up from the notes she was in the process of compiling, only to find the only person she ever actively avoided at work — apart from the lab’s assistant director — standing in the doorway and peering back at her. 

“Of course,” he continued, as if he had already anticipated her lack of greeting or reply, “If you had gone home when I had Catherine tell you to, you might have succeeded. But that was…” He to consult his wrist watch, before he continued, “More than twelve hours ago.”

“I just had a few things to finish up,” she lied. It was a lame excuse and she knew it and she knew he knew it, too, which was probably why she hastily averted her gaze. At the moment, the grizzly photos of the mangled corpse of a gun-downed drug runner that she had spread all over the workroom’s light table, were a whole lot less disconcerting than the concern she had glimpsed in Grissom’s eyes.

He, however, did not seem the least detoured from what he had come to say by the quality — or lack there of — of her casual explanation. Instead, he moved from his place at the door to the one at her side before she even realized he had vacated his original position.

“Sara, look,” he began. “I know we all pull a lot of time around here. But you pulled doubles on Tuesday and Wednesday, and are now pushing almost five hours past the tail end of another.”

He leaned in closer to her. Anyone passing would have assumed that he was merely taking a closer look at the evidence on the table, but the soft and almost personal timbre in his voice belied the action as more private rather than professional. “You need to go home.”

“I will,” she said, her eyes still glued on the tip of her pen that hovered over her open lab book.

Grissom would not be deterred. “When?” he inquired firmly.

“Soon,” she replied automatically.

Now.”

His rarely used, but almost fiercely dictatorial tone was unmistakeable.

She met his gaze in effort to further punctuate the protest she was about to wage, but before she could get the words out, their discussion was effectively suspended by an almost breathlessly excited cry of –

“Grissom — Sara –”

Greg Sanders, former DNA tech now turned field-rated CSI, bounded through the open door with all the animation of kid at Christmas. He looked every bit as youthful with his rakish grin and his artfully — and intentionally — disheveled half-dark/half-blonde hair. His clothes were his own unique brand of office casual — a colorful shirt paired with a dark blazer.

“Good Morning to you, too, Greg,” Grissom said, trying to smile despite the measure of annoyance he was feeling at the interruption. But manners were manners and he had to set a good example, like it or not. He need not have bothered as Greg merely plowed on –

“Nick and Warrick just wrapped up the DeLancy case and wanted to know if you wanted to join us for a little celebratory breakfast.”

“They got the son-in-law to confess?” Grissom asked, his irritation turning first to surprise and then satisfaction at the turn of events that finally sent an unscrupulous accountant to jail for defrauding his father-in-law’s company out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Yep,” Greg replied with a grin. “Once they got the secretary to roll over on her boss, it was smooth sailing from there.”

Grissom shook his head in appreciation. “Makes sense that a man who would cheat in his marriage would cheat in business, too.”

Greg smiled ruefully. “But the whole bopping the secretary thing seems a little cliched, don’t you think?”

“Something only becomes cliched, Greg, when it happens so frequently to become predictable,” Grissom explained. “Despite all of our technological advances, human behavior really hasn’t evolved much socially speaking in the last 200 millennia.”

“Are you saying that homo sapiens as a species are incapable of change?” Sara interjected, not bothering to disguise the slight measure of confrontation implicit in her words.

Grissom seemed to consider her question carefully and was about to formulate his reply, when Greg interceded with a not entirely convincingly flippant —

“All I know is I am incapable of holding a philosophical discussion about anything at this time of the morning without a hearty helping of bacon and eggs in my stomach,” the young man said with an uneasy laugh. “So what do you guys say?”

Sara began to protest that she still had work to finish up, when Grissom cut across her and said, “We’d both be delighted. Wouldn’t we, Sara?”

The amiable smirk on his face caused the death glare Sara shot at Grissom to soften slightly and after a deep breath, Sara replied somewhat woodenly, “Of course.”

“Great,” Greg nodded, bouncing a little on the balls of his feet as he always did when particularly pleased.

Still giving her that smug little smile that Sara wished she knew a way to rid him of at the moment, Grissom left her side, pausing beside the rookie CSI to suggest in the casual way he always used to accomplish his (at this moment Sara regarded as particularly nefarious) ends, “Greg, why don’t you help Sara pick up here and you two can go together. I’ve got to finish up a few things, so tell the guys I’ll be there in twenty or so.”

Greg submitted blithely. His only reply was to ask, “You want us to order your usual?”

“If you could.”

“No problem.”

“Great.” Grissom paused at the door, “Oh and Greg…”

“Yeah?”

“You drive.”

“You got it, Boss,” he said with a delighted grin that Sara’s sour look as she carefully shuffled her papers back into the case file still did little to assuage.

********

A Good Catch

It was significantly later than twenty minutes when Gil Grissom pulled up to Frank’s Coffee Shop, a diner it seemed that every member of law enforcement in Vegas liked to frequent.

Nick Stokes greeted him with a jovial, “You get lost on the way here, Grissom?”

Grissom shook his head and smiled sadly, “Alas, no. Just a little detoured.”

Nick, Greg and Warrick Brown all chorused, “Ecklie.”

“I can neither confirm or deny…” Grissom replied in a way that left no question as to the true identity of the cause of his delay.

“Order up,” called the cook from the counter.

“You’re timing’s impeccable,” Warrick sighed, shaking his head in amazement.

“You pick it up and I’ll pay,” said Grissom, pulling several bills from his wallet and thinking it a bargain.

All he wanted to do after the last ten hours was sit down and catch his breath.

Besides, he thought, he might have a moment to find out why Sara sat so silently by the window, peering determinately out onto what was rapidly becoming a very cloudy morning.

“Deal,” Warrick said, taking the money as he got up from the table. Greg and Nick followed him, both joking about what they would have ordered had they know the night shift supervisor was springing for the meal. Warrick turned to Sara, “You want a refill on that coffee?” he asked.

Her hesitation was barely perceptible. “I’m good,” she said with a slight smile that Grissom knew better than to believe.

By the time Grissom slid into the booth across from her, Sara had renewed her perusal of the parking lot outside.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yeah, just tired.”

“Have you been sleeping?”

“I’m fine,” she replied, deftly sidestepping his query.

“Just answer the question, Sara,” he insisted.

“No. Not since…”

Her voice trailed off, but he knew exactly when she meant. He, too, had had trouble sleeping since his latest visit to Sara’s apartment.

However, it looked as if he had fared far better than she had. He had at least managed to get some sleep, while even the muted daylight creeping first through the clouds and then the glass seemed to highlight all the signs on Sara’s face that readily divulged the fact she had barely slept at all. She was looking a little more drawn and far more wan than he was accustomed to seeing her, even after her customary long bouts of insomnia.

“Sara…” he began, his voice gentle with concern.

At that moment, there was so much he wanted to say to her, but when it came down to it, all he wanted to do was show her in some way, in any way at all, a small measure of the great comfort she had given him when he had arrived on her doorstep almost a week before feeling terribly lost and afraid.

“Grissom, I know that this stuff is good for you,” said Nick as he slid the plate across the table. “But come on. You can have toast and fruit at home.”

Grissom did not rise to the bait; he was far more preoccupied with the fact that none of guys had placed a plate in front of Sara. He tried to be casual about it.

“What, no pancakes this morning?” he asked, taking a nonchalant bite of toast.

Sara for her part began to draw circles in her black coffee with a plastic stirrer.

No one else seemed to notice anything amiss as the talk at the table quickly turned to a rather involved play-by-play of Nick and Warrick’s handling of the DeLancy case. Greg, hoping to pick up whatever tips of the trade he could, kept pumping the two other CSI’s for all the details until all their plates had long been cleared and Nick was stifling a yawn.

Grissom took this as a sign that it was time for the outing to wind down. Warrick and Nick didn’t have long before they would have to be on again and Sara’s continued silence worried him, so he cut Greg off in the midst of a question about the finer points of financial forensics. The young man looked a little disappointed until Grissom promised to treat them to another meal when they all (with the exception of Greg who never did seem to tire) weren’t all so drained.

Greg turned to ask Sara whether she wanted him to take her directly home or if he should just drop her off at the lab, when Grissom insisted that he would take her. It was after all, he argued, much more on his way home than Greg’s place was.

After a few hearty good-byes, the five of them separated. Grissom waited for the guys to drive off before he gently took Sara by the arm and led her to his car.

They drove the next ten minutes in silence, neither one bothering to turn on the radio and both merely listening to the sounds of the rain that had yet again begun to fall.

Grissom couldn’t think of a time when he remembered it raining this much in Vegas and almost said as much to Sara when he caught himself. He wasn’t too keen on talking about the weather with her, not when there were so many other things he knew he needed to say, if only he could find the right words.

Gil Grissom prided himself on always having just the right thing to say at just the right moment. Although if he was completely honest with himself, he had to admit that when it came to Sara, he was perpetually tongue-tied — much to his and he imagined her chagrin. It seemed almost cosmically unfair that he could quote all the world’s great thinkers and writers and doers when it really didn’t matter, but when it did, he was at a complete loss.

And he hated himself for it.

As they pulled into the parking lot of Sara’s apartment complex, he resolved at least to try.

His resolution proved in vain. His nervous attempt to put them both at ease with the question, “So are you really trying to avoid me?” resulted only in him unable to find a reply when she turned to him and said without preamble, in a single breath and without meeting his eyes,

“I’m sorry — I crossed a line — I shouldn’t have — I’m sorry,” before she fled into the rain, leaving him to stare utterly dumbfounded at her retreating form.

It took him a full thirty-seconds to realize she had actually gone and another few breathless moments until he went after her.

“Sara, wait,” he called.

Relief surged through him when he saw her stop before she reached the stairs, but it quickly turned to alarm as he watched her knees buckle.

He just barely reached her in time to keep her from hitting the pavement.

*******

In Sickness and In Health

It felt like hours later, but it must have only been minutes between when he slid his arm around her waist to help keep her on her feet and when they had stumbled together through Sara’s front door both of them soaked and shivering.

Grissom went to lead her to the couch to sit down, but she shook her head and indicated the bathroom. They barely made it in time before Sara threw up the meager, yet entire, contents of her stomach. Grissom for his part, knelt beside her, holding her hair back from her face as she retched, and keeping a hand on her back to steady her. Before long, the sickening sound of vomiting quickly passed into the far more painful throes of dry heaves.

By the time the nausea subsided, Sara was pale as a sheet, and trembling despite the fact that Grissom had draped his jacket over her shoulders. He eased her back up and half-led half-carried her to bed.

“Sara?” He urged gently. “Sara, tell me what’s going on.” When she didn’t reply, he pressed, “Sara, please.”

She put a hand to her head. “Does your head hurt?” She nodded almost imperceptibly. “Do you get migraines?” Her head barely shook this time. “Are you dizzy?” A slight bob. He reached for her wrist and concentrated on counting her, rather than his own, racing heartbeats.

“One hundred and ten,” he said, glancing up from his watch. A growing sense of alarm flooded over him. He quickly tried to calm himself, knowing that he would be of little help to her if he gave into panic.

Then a possible explanation for her symptoms presented itself.

“Sara, when was the last time you ate?” He asked; she shrugged in reply. “Did you eat at all while you were at the lab?”

After a moment, she shook her head.

“How about before you came in?”

A nod.

“How much coffee have you had?”

First a shrug, and then she rolled on her side with a groan.

In the end, he didn’t really need to know. If she had consumed only half as much caffeine as he typically saw her drink in a night, it would be more than enough to exacerbate her body’s reaction to a prolonged lack of food.

“I’ll be right back,” he assured her. He tugged a blanket from its place at the end of the bed and drew it over her.

For once, he was thankful for the relatively cramped nature of her small studio apartment, as he could still keep an eye on Sara while he swiftly went to work in her kitchen.

The glass bottles inside the door rattled when he flung open the refrigerator. The mostly bare shelves made it easy for him to find what he was searching for. He pulled the cap off the large half-gallon jug and took a whiff of its contents to make sure they were still good before pouring a tall glass of skim milk into a tumbler and taking it to Sara.

“Honey,” he said softly. “I need you to drink this right now.”

She moaned and shook her head.

“Sara, please.”

After a few more attempts at cajoling and a few well-chosen threats, she agreed to let him help her sit up.

The still too recent memory of the overpowering nausea caused her to balk at the thought and the smell of the milk, but Grissom pleaded until she capitulated. He helped steady her hands as she drank.

“All of it,” he insisted.

When she finished, he eased her back onto the pillows. As she sighed, several tears began to trickle from her closed eyes. 

“You should start to feel at least a little bit better after five minutes or so,” he reassured her. “But if you don’t at the end of twenty, we’re going to the hospital,” he warned.

“No,” she protested.

“Yes,” he countered resolutely. “And I can usually tell when you’re lying so don’t waste your energy.”

Grissom sat on the edge of the bed, carefully watching her until her body seemed to relax slightly and a faint hint of color returned to her cheeks.

“You feel a little better, don’t you?” he said after a while, a slight sliver of a smile on his lips as the feeling of relief began to spread through him.

Sara nodded. “I just feel really tired,” she replied.

“Try and get some sleep,” he whispered, giving her hand a gentle squeeze. “I’ll still be here when you wake up,” he promised.

“Grissom, you don’t have to –”

“I want to,” was all he replied.

Sara drifted off to sleep pondering his words.

*******

The Truth Will Out

When she woke several hours later, it was to a room far darker than she remembered. Her curtains had been pulled shut, leaving as the only source of light in the apartment a small lamp on the end table by her desk.

Sara tottered a little unsteadily to her feet, still feeling a bit dizzy and tired, but thankful that the throbbing headache and oppressive nausea had gone.

She stumbled the five or so feet into her living space to find Gil Grissom sitting on her sofa fast asleep with his glasses perched precariously on the end of his nose, his chin resting on his chest and the most recent edition of The Journal of the American Academy of Forensic Science propped open on his lap. She smiled as she carefully removed first his glasses and then the magazine and pulled a blanket over him.

Her attempts to be as quiet as she could were eventually foiled when a snicker escaped her lips in response to the sound of him snoring softly.

She was just about to beat a hasty retreat when his still slightly groggy — “What’s so funny?” stilled her.

“Shouldn’t you be sleeping?” she asked in a tone of mock innocence.

“Shouldn’t you?” he replied, squinting at her curiously.

“True,” she admitted.

“So what was so funny?” he asked again.

“I didn’t know you snored,” she said simply.

“I don’t snore,” Grissom countered, fumbling for his glasses.

“Looking for these?” Sara asked, dangling his spectacles in front of him. He reached for them, but she playfully pulled them out of reach as she teased, “Admit it, you do.”

“I guess I shall have to take your word for it,” he conceded. “Now may I…” He indicated the glasses. She handed them over without another word. After he slipped them back on, he peered up at her, searching her face. “How are you feeling?”

“Besides mortified?” she answered, quickly taking a seat in hope of stilling the returning vertigo.

“You have nothing to be embarrassed about, Sara,” Grissom said.

“Yeah, like you want to have Ecklie help you up to your townhouse, watch you spill your guts and have to pack you to bed…”

Grissom’s eye brows rose as he considered this scenario. “I think I’ll take a pass on that particular experience, thank you very much.”

Sara found herself smiling in spite of herself, but the grin quickly faded as he proceeded to say in a soft, almost hesitant sort of voice,

“But I didn’t come here as your boss, Sara.”

Her astonishment must have registered on her face, because his own face turned slightly sober as he said,

“Or your friend.”

She blanched and closed her eyes, feeling suddenly overwhelmed. Almost instantly, she felt one of his warm hands on her cheek.

“Are you still feeling faint?” he asked concerned; Sara nodded. “I should have woken you earlier to eat, but I just couldn’t. You were sleeping so soundly and I thought you could really use the rest.”

She felt his hand draw away and heard his shoes shuffle into the kitchen. When he curled her fingers around yet another glass, she wrinkled up her nose and said, “More milk?”

“Yes. Best thing for it.”

“For what?” she inquired, hazarding a glance at him.

“Sara, are you diabetic?” he asked, taking the empty glass from her.

“No.”

“Hypoglycemia,” he answered as if that explained everything.

“Low blood sugar?”

He nodded. “Extreme fasting, plus stress, plus too much caffeine can make your blood sugar plummet suddenly once all of your body’s ready stores of glucose have been used up. The headaches, the vertigo, the nausea, general unsteadiness, rapid heartbeat and sudden personality changes that are all alleviated by an intake of sugar are indicative of hypoglycemia.”

“Why milk? Why not juice?” she asked.

“The protein in the milk helps stabilize the absorption of galactose — milk sugar — so the body doesn’t end up in a hyperglycemic state. Its a lot gentler than juice, which you really don’t want to drink after vomiting. And with candy, honey or sugary sodas your blood sugar can plummet again after an initial rise.”

“Makes sense,” she said, nodding appreciatively. “You really do know just about everything don’t you?” she teased.

“Hardly,” he replied. “Facts and information are just that. Data and patterns of behaviors only help you so much. Real knowledge and truth are something else entirely.” He paused, bowing his head, seemingly to contemplate his empty hands, when in reality he was considering the best way to begin what he really wanted to say. After a deep breath, he decided to risk it.

“I don’t know for certain, but I am fairly sure that what you said in the car wasn’t part of some personality change brought on by hypoglycemia.”

This time Sara looked away when she replied so softly he had to read her lips to hear her, “No.”

“Why are you sorry about what happened, Sara?”

She didn’t answer.

“If you think I regret that afternoon…”

She cut him off with an almost angry, “You don’t have to lie, Grissom. Not out of some perversely noble attempt to spare my feelings.”

“I’m not…”

“I saw it in your eyes,” she nearly shouted. “I saw the regret in your eyes when you left. I’m a big girl. I don’t need you to feel sorry for me…”

Gil Grissom shook his head sadly. It seemed as though their relationship had always been like this: founded more upon misreading and misunderstanding than truth because he, for one, had been scared to death of having to face the truth. 

The truth of it was he needed her. He loved her. It was time he finally did something about it.

“Sara,” he called and waited for her to look at him. When she did, he could see the hurt and sorrow play upon her face. He took a deep breath to steady his voice and began, “My regret was not about anything that happened. It lay in being sorry that I had to leave. The only thing I regret about that afternoon was that I had not come to you sooner — days sooner, weeks sooner, months — years sooner.”

After a long pause, Sara asked, “Do you even know what you want, Grissom?”

“The only thing I ever wanted…”

She searched his face, her eyes trying to understand what he was trying to tell her when her ears would not; her own features begging him to continue so she could just breathe again.

“You.”

Was all he replied.

Sara brought her fingers to her lips to stifle her gasp, but Grissom took her hands in his and held them, rubbing his thumbs across her knuckles.

“What do you want, Sara?” he asked.

She smiled a soft, warm sort of smile as she answered, “The only thing I ever wanted…”

This time it was Grissom’s turn to wait and wonder, but Sara decided to promptly put him out of his misery.

“You, of course,” she replied.

His momentary disquiet turned into delight. He beamed with all the contentment she had seen him exhibit when one of his many and varied experiments yielded results better than what he had expected.

“So I’m not too late?” he asked, this one fear needing to be dealt with and put away.

Sara took his face in both of her hands.

“No.”

“Then no more lines to cross? No more walls?” He asked and then his queries shifted into a statement, “Just…” he paused to brush his lips against the heel of her hand before placing a lingering kiss on her palm.

“… us,” she finished. Sara slid her hand around the back of his neck and drew him towards her. They both leaned in and…

Grissom’s phone went off, startling them both into nervous laughter. Sara could almost swear that Grissom blushed as he pulled his cell from his pants pocket and flipped it open.

“Grissom,” he answered in his usually brisk businesslike fashion as if nothing at out of the ordinary was afoot.

Sara rose and retrieved a small notebook from her desk. Without a word, she placed it and a pen in front of him on the coffee table. Almost mechanically, Grissom picked up the pen and began to write, making a point to verify each detail that the caller was giving him before he moved on to the next.

Sara liked watching him work like this, absorbed as he always was by the minutia. She had always admired Grissom’s thoroughness and attention to detail. It was part of what made Grissom so quintessentially Grissom.

So that when he did something Sara regarded as so very unlike himself, she almost had to choke back a cry of surprise.

He shot her a perplexed look as he repeated into the phone, “In about ninety minutes. Yeah. I have to stop by and pick up Sara. Then we’ll both head out. Ok. See you then.” He snapped his phone shut and turned to her. “Something wrong?” he asked at the dumbfounded look plastered all over her face.

“You aren’t out of town.”

“Would you rather I told him I was here?” Grissom asked.

Sara considered the implications of his question for a moment. “Not really,” she replied. “But still, even with traffic, which is unlikely at this hour, its only twenty minutes to the lab from here. Even if we both showered we could be there in less than forty-five.”

“True. However, you left something out of your calculations.”

“What?”

“You and I are going to have dinner before heading in,” he replied nonchalantly.

“We are?”

He nodded. “Plus, as your cupboards are habitually bare, I need to stop by the store to pick up a few things.”

“We can pick something up along the way,” she countered reasonably.

“Are you afraid of my cooking?” Grissom asked, pretending to be hurt.

She shook her head.

“Well then, what’s the problem? You and I are going to sit down and share a meal before shift.”

“But what about the case?” 

“It’s already dark, its not raining and our DB has been shut up in a barn for two weeks, Sara. Another forty-five minutes isn’t going to change anything.”

“But I thought…”

“So I will be back in fifteen minutes,” he continued, pulling on his coat on the way to the door, completely oblivious to the feelings of deep affection he was stirring in Sara as she watched him go. “If you want to get cleaned up and dressed while I’m gone, I’ll throw dinner together and hop in the shower while it’s cooking and we should still have plenty of time to eat before Brass expects us back at the lab.”

She laughed as she tugged at his jacket to straighten it. “You really do think of everything,” she said.

“I’ll see you soon.”

She nodded and reluctantly closed the door behind him.

*******

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