03 – The Best Laid Plans

When Grissom invites Sara to have dinner with him, everything that can go wrong inevitably does. 

Instead of being disappointed, he realizes that chaos can be surprisingly satisfying. 

Third and final part of the Finally Setting a Date series and  follows “A Comedy of Errors” and “A Woman’s Work,” circa mid May 2005

*******

Time Dilation

Gil Grissom sat in his car, nervously watching the digital clock on the dash count up the minutes until eight o’clock.

He had arrived ten minutes before the hour, just as he had intended, having left home early enough to compensate for any extra traffic or whatever unforeseen delays that might come his way. His perfectly executed plan left him with more than ample time to stare at the clock and wonder if time really did slow down when you watched it.

He considered for a little while how he might go about developing an experiment to test this hypothesis. The exercise distracted him for a few minutes, but not long enough to make any significant improvement on relieving his nerves. 

Maybe it would have been better just to have been worried about being late.

But no, it would not do to be late tonight of all nights.

This was an evening he had thought about for a long time and he wanted it to be perfect or at least as perfect as he could possibly make it.

At three to eight, he turned off the ignition, collected the small box from its place on the passenger seat and stepped out of the relative safety and surety of his vehicle and onto the pavement of the parking lot in front of Sara’s apartment.

He took the time it took to ascend the stairs to her studio to fully consider that there was no turning back after tonight, at least not for him. 

Although if he had been fully honest with himself for the past seven years, he would have realized a long time ago, that he had reached that point of no return the first time he ever laid eyes on Sara Sidle.

But he was here now and that was what mattered.

He straightened the knot on his tie and took a deep breath before he gave her door a gentle rap.

From within, he heard her call, “It’s open, Grissom.”

He tried the knob and wasn’t entirely pleased to find that it turned easily.

As he stepped through the door and into her modest apartment, he somehow could not help but say, “You really shouldn’t leave your door unlocked like that. Anyone could have been at the door.”

Sara didn’t look up from where she was sitting, dressed in what appeared at first glance to be her bathrobe, bent over and seeming as though she was having a difficult time with her shoes.

“Good Evening to you to, Gris,” she said, shaking her head. She cursed slightly under her breadth.

Grissom suddenly felt sheepish. He had come to take Sara to dinner, and instead of conveying that he was indeed happy to see her and looking forward to the time they were about to spend together, he had started in on yet another lecture and had already succeeded in irritating her.

This was certainly not how he had imagined the evening going.

“I’m sorry…” he began, attempting to swiftly undertake some sort of damage control.

“I’m not mad at you,” Sara said, interrupting him before he could really get started. “It’s these shoes,” she explained.

He smiled in relief and knelt down beside her. “Allow me,” he suggested.

She extended her right leg, revealing in the process a lot more skin than he was accustomed to seeing. He took her ankle in his hand and hesitated for a moment, enjoying the way the warmth of her skin bled through her stockings.

Bombyx mori,” he remarked softly as his fingers moved to the strap of her shoe.

“Excuse me?”

He looked up at her and smiled. “Your stockings. Made from the thread of the cocoon of Bombyx mori — more commonly known as the silkworm. One of the oldest living domesticated animals. 

“Traditionally, the silk threads are harvested by boiling the cocoons with the pupae still enclosed as it helps the silk producers more easily unravel the 3,000 foot long threads.”

Sara looked a little discomforted at the idea of anything being boiled alive.

Grissom merely continued as he buckled her other shoe, “In many Asian cultures, the pupae are seasoned and eaten. In Korea, they are served as snack food on the street.”

“I think I just lost my appetite,” she whispered, looking and indeed feeling a little green.

Grissom shook his head ruefully. “It’s only Western cultures where insect eating is considered taboo. For much of the world, insects have served as important sources of protein for thousands of years. And because of the high food conversion rate exhibited by most species, insects are actually a more ecologically sound source of meat than any vertebrate.”

“Like I said before, I think I’ll still pass, thanks.”

He laughed and sensing that a change in subject was likely in order said, “Someday, you are going to have to tell me the story behind this tattoo.”

Sara’s eyes sparkled slightly in apparent mischief when she said, “Perhaps.”

For his part, Grissom was still in his scientist mode. He smoothed the thin layer of silk that covered the symbol to examine it more closely and asked curiously, “Its not made from carminic acid is it?”

“You mean from a cochineal?”

“Yeah. How did you…?” Although as quickly as his mind formed around the question, it devised a response, “The entomology textbook.”

Sara nodded. “Are you surprised that I actually read it?” she asked.

“I would have been more surprised if you hadn’t,” he replied.

“Thank you,” Sara said softly.

“For what?”

“Helping me with the shoes,” she replied, indicating her feet. “I felt just like Cinderella there for a second.”

Grissom smiled as he rose, “You don’t strike me as the kind of girl who really believed in fairy tales when she was younger.”

“Every girl believes in fairy tales, Grissom. Sometimes those who most need them to be true are the ones who believe in them the most.”

He squeezed her hand, hoping the touch would help the slightly sad look on her face disappear a little faster. “Well, it was my pleasure, dear.”

She smiled at the endearment as she allowed him to help her to her feet.

“I do need your assistance with one more thing though and then I’ll be ready,” she said. “I didn’t realize when I bought the dress that I couldn’t do up the buttons myself.” She turned away from him and slipped off her robe. “Will you?” she asked.

Grissom was infinitely grateful that her back was turned, because he was fairly sure that his shock registered on his face.

After he made no move to aid her for several very long moments, Sara peered over her shoulder and called his name. He gave her a nervous little smile and set to work on the small pearl-like buttons that ran down along her back. He desperately tried to stay focused on the task at hand, but his normally nimble fingers still fumbled with the buttons. The glimpse of the dark blue slip she wore beneath the dress was making it difficult to concentrate.

As he finally slipped the last button into place, he attempted to disguise the fact that just the barely brushing feel beneath his fingertips of the bare skin that lay just above the edge of her slip, made his heart race by saying jocularly, “I was wondering if you were planning to wear that robe out. Or if perhaps the old stereotype was true.”

“What stereotype?” Sara asked.

“That a woman is never ready on time.”

“Funny,” Sara replied dryly as she turned to face him. When she did so, Grissom’s eyes went wide. She smirked slightly and let him stand there staring for a while before she said with a grin, “You can pick your jaw up from off the floor now.”

He said nothing in reply.

His eyes merely fixed on her as he endeavored to take her all in at once.

Sure, this was still Sara, his Sara, whom he had always regarded as beautiful — even when she was tousled-haired, dressed in what even he considered to be horrid department issue coveralls, and with streaks of oil on her face from whatever car she had recently been dismantling.

The Sara who stood right before him was equally as alluring, just in a different way.

He noticed her eyes first, because they were so diligently seeking out his own. They were the same dark brown as always, but tonight, beneath a thin layer of apprehension, he found that they were even more warm and welcoming than usual.

She wore the barest hint of makeup that only just masked the light smattering of freckles on her pale skin. There was a slight shimmer to her lips that told him she had put on a different type of lipstick than she typically wore.

Her auburn hair was upswept with only a few loose tendrils curling around her cheeks and neck. Grissom had always been secretly captivated by Sara’s curls. He had missed them when she had decided to straighten her hair, but at the time, he hadn’t been a position to protest their loss.

As his eyes followed the curls past the base of her bare neck, he discovered the cut of her dress to be significantly more revealing than that what he was used to seeing her wear around the lab.

The dress itself, he knew from the near memory of the fabric under his fingertips, was silk, cut in a manner that the garment was fitted in just the right places while still retaining a loose and flowing look.

It was the color, however, that was its most striking feature: an iridescent sapphire shade that seemingly captured the light just so when she moved.

It struck him as oddly familiar.

He felt Sara’s warm hand on his cheek.

“You disappeared again,” she said worriedly. “Where were you?”

“Brazil,” he replied. When she gave him a puzzled look, he fingered the thin strap of her dress and explained, “Menelaus.”

Still mystified, she asked, “Helen of Troy’s husband?”

“Actually, she was more like Helen of Sparta, but no. Morpho Menelaus.”

“The blue morpho butterfly.”

Grissom nodded. “Twenty years ago, I was working on this field project in the Rio Negro basin, studying the effects of deforestation on beetle populations, when the research team I was with stumbled into a clearing full of blue morphos all sunning themselves. 

“It was as if the sky and earth had changed places. All dazzling light and color. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and would see –” He paused to meet her gaze again.

“Until I met you.”

As his words hovered in the small space between them, it was Sara’s eyes that went wide. Her lips moved but no words came out.

Probably, the tiny part of her brain still capable of rational thought chimed, because she had just forgotten how to breathe.

So she did the only thing her emotive side could come up with and kissed him, full and hard on the mouth, leaving Grissom breathless as well.

He let himself be carried away for a few moments, before he reluctantly withdrew, knowing all too well that he had to get the words out before all of his newfound resolve deserted him. He drew the warm hand that still rested on his cheek back and pressed his lips into her palm and said softly, “Sara, every time I see you, it’s like I’m seeing you for the first time and yet, it is as if I have seen you forever.”

*******

Chivalry Has Its Own Rewards

“Grissom –” Sara stammered in surprise and found that she suddenly had to turn aside.

Grissom lightly brushed away a lone tear from her cheek with his thumb, worried for a moment that he had said too much, revealed too much.

Yet, he did not regret his words. After all the two of them had been through, after everything he had put her through, he knew she deserved the truth.

All Grissom knew is that he could have just stood alone with her in her living room for always. Just stood there near enough to experience the warmth of her without literally touching her. Although the almost haunting memory of the softness of her skin only made him long to touch her again.

He could not know that she, too, still felt the trace of his touch.

“We should get going,” she said finally, breaking the spell.

He nodded in agreement. “But first I have something for you.” He picked up the small box from the coffee table and presented it to her. “I know you prefer plants, but I thought this time you might be willing to make an exception.”

As she withdrew the flowers, she whispered, “They’re beautiful. What are they?”

Convallaria majalis.”

When the lack of recognition in her face indicated that his response had clarified nothing, he added, “Lily of the Valley.”

Sara waited patiently for him to expound further, as he habitually did. So when it eventually became apparent that he wasn’t going to, she inquired, “And?”

“And what?”

“Aren’t you going to tell me anything else about them?”

Grissom shook his head and took the flowers from her.

“No.”

And he seemed content to be oblivious to the apparent confusion he was causing her by this uncharacteristic veering from habit.

“Before my father died,” he began at last, as he pinned the delicate arrangement of tiny white blossoms to her dress. “He and my mother would get all dressed up every now and then to go out together. He would always bring her flowers to wear. 

“I suppose the custom probably seems a little antiquated now, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I just never had the opportunity.”

“Thank you,” she said, her whole face wholly alight with one of those rare smiles that Grissom never did realize were solely reserved for him.

As she leaned over to retrieve her wrap from the back of the chair, he covered her hand with his and whispered, “Allow me?”

She demurred with a quiet nod. He stepped forward, pausing in the act of draping the intricately woven fabric over shoulders to brush a curl from the back of her neck. The gesture caused her to shiver slightly.

“Cold?” he asked, rubbing her arms gently.

She felt anything but, though merely smiled and reached for his hand.

It was only after they were standing on her doorstep as she turned her key to lock the door, that she asked the question she had been wondering ever since Grissom had invited her to join him for dinner, “Where are you spiriting me off to tonight?”

“That, my dear, is a surprise,” he replied, helping her into his car.

His act of old fashion chivalry afforded him the slightest glimpse of more of her long, silk-clad legs.

His mother had been right, he mused, being a gentleman always had its rewards.

Sara caught his gaze and self-consciously tugged her skirt a little lower.

“Don’t,” he said.

“I have knobby knees,” she said apologetically.

“And I’m bow-legged,” Grissom grinned. “I suppose that makes us quite a pair.”

Sara couldn’t help but smile as he closed her door.

*******

A Watched Pot Never Boils, but an Unattended Casserole Will Always Burn

“I hope you aren’t too disappointed,” Grissom said solemnly as he pulled into the driveway of his townhouse.

Sara smiled as he opened the car door for her.

In actuality, Grissom inviting her over to his place for dinner was a far deeper display of intimacy than if he had reserved a private table at Alize at the Top of the Palms.

For she knew all too well that Grissom seldom entertained visitors in his own home. She, herself, had not been there since the now almost infamous Strip Strangler case that had occurred almost four years previously and at that time, it was more like the team had invaded his home at Catherine’s instigation than they had been summoned. So it was an unexpected and almost unheard of honor to be welcomed as a guest.

“Not at all,” she replied with genuine pleasure as she threaded her arm through his and allowed him to lead her up the walk.

The smiles, however, slid off both of their faces as they stepped inside. The house was permeated with the stench of overcooked spinach and charred cheese. Sara wrinkled up her nose and Grissom groaned as he rushed off into the kitchen to inspect the damage.

From her place in the hall, Sara heard him issue an uncharacteristically loud curse as the oven door banged open. Once the smoke detector began to wail, she knew he needed help.

As he struggled with the pot holders to retrieve the offending dish, Sara clambered up onto a chair, unscrewed the cover to the smoke alarm and yanked out the battery.

Unfortunately, the earsplitting shrieking was replaced by the sound of shattering glass.

Grissom peered down at his now empty hands and the splattered remains of his carefully prepared entree and shook his head wondering how it had all went so wrong.

“Are you hurt?” Sara asked, examining first his hands for injuries and then the rest of him for good measure, even after he had assured her he wasn’t.

His once immaculate suit, however, had not faired so well. Debris from the dish left cast off on his trousers and shoes.

“Why don’t you get changed and I’ll start cleaning up,” Sara said, giving him a reassuring smile.

He shook his head. “There’s no reason for you to ruin your dress, too.”

“Then unbutton me,” she said practically.

“Excuse me?” he asked, instantly taken aback.

“I have a slip on underneath, just undo the buttons,” she explained.

“Sara –”

“Grissom, most men wouldn’t hesitate to have a woman clean up their kitchen in their underwear,” Sara laughed. “It’s a shame about the suit though,” she said smoothing the lapel of his jacket. “It suits you.”

And it did.

Sara had seen Grissom in a suit and tie upon several occasions — unfortunately, all of them work-related and most of the time they were limited to when he was scheduled to appear in court. She had always admired the sight and part of her secretly wished that Grissom spent more time giving testimony, as it would have afforded her more opportunities to enjoy the view. 

And although his suits were always of good quality and in good taste, this one seemed even more so and appeared at least upon a cursory examination to be new. She wondered briefly if she had not been the only one who had spent the meager time they had off over the last several days on a shopping expedition. The thought that he had gone through all that trouble made her smile.

“Besides,” she said beginning to loosen the knot at his neck, “you hate ties.”

He reluctantly returned the smile. “I’ll be right back,” he replied.

“Grissom –” she called after him.

He turned at the doorway.

“Did you forget something?”

Grissom gave her a bewildered look.

“The buttons,” she replied, indicating her back. He looked about to voice another protest when she said softly, “I trust you. Do you trust me?”

Having no argument to counter this, he dutifully unfastened the back of her dress before retreating from the kitchen to change his own clothes. He did however pause for a moment to watch her pull the dress over her head, but he did not long linger lest he betray the fact that he had never seen a more enticing view in his entire life.

He took a while changing out of his jacket and pants and into a pair of jeans. He decided to forgo the tie, but kept the shirt.

When he returned, Sara was leaning over to sweep up the last remaining bits of glass and casserole fragments from the floor.

Simultaneously, Grissom wondered why he had not dawdled a little longer in the bedroom and why he had dawdled so long.

When Sara straightened up, she gave him a bright smile and said teasingly, “I guess this means takeout then.”

He shook his head. “No. It just means I’ll have to improvise.”

“Are you sure that is a good idea after…” her voice trailed off deliberately.

“There was nothing wrong with my original dish,” he rationalized. “I merely neglected to turn the temperature down after I had taken out the desert.”

“That doesn’t sound like you.”

“I was a little…”

“Preoccupied?” she suggested, a glint of mischief in her eyes, something Grissom found appealing.

The almost playful banter that had sprung up between them as of late had both surprised and pleased him. He had long missed the ease and comfort that had once existed between them and eagerly welcomed its return even if it meant he was in for the occasional ribbing.

Of course, he could give as well as he got.

Distracted,” he countered, leaving her with no response but simple raise of an eyebrow in astonishment at his admission. “But then,” he continued warmly, “You’ve always been a distraction.”

“Is that why you hardly ever work with me anymore?” she asked curiously.

He made no reply to this. Instead, he moved to the refrigerator and began to loudly root around the shelves and rummage through the drawers.

Sara shook her head as she, filled at the moment with equal measures of exasperation and admiration, watched him remove first eggs, milk and cheese and then fresh leeks, portobello mushrooms and asparagus and place them on the counter by the sink.

“What are we having then?” she hazarded.

His pleasure in easily discovering a new dish to offer her seemed to offset his disappointment in having ruined his first attempt, for he smiled broadly when he turned to her and answered, “Crepes.”

“Crepes?” she echoed a little uncertainly.

“Fresh Asparagus and Mushroom Crepes,” he answered brightly, jerking open several of his cabinets to retrieve the last of the necessary ingredients.

“Grissom, seriously, you don’t need to go through all that trouble. Believe me I am already impressed.”

But he was already whisking the eggs and milk into a salt and flour mixture. He set it aside to wash the vegetables.

“Fine,” Sara conceded, knowing far too well that once Gil Grissom resolved to follow a particular course of action, he pursued it relentlessly, come hell or high water. So she simply took the asparagus and mushrooms from him and after inquiring after exactly how he wanted them cut, set to work.

Grissom, for his part, heated oil in a small skillet until the drop of water he dripped into it sizzled upon contact. He removed the pan from the heat and began add the batter, expertly tilting the pan to allow the mixture to evenly coat the hot surface. Less than half a minute later he flipped the lightly browned crepe over.

Sara’s laughter at the performance turned into a slight cry of alarm when her normally deft fingers made contact with the tang of the blade she was cutting with. She dropped the knife and instinctively began to suck on the offended fingers.

“Sara!”

Grissom’s shout startled her. She spun.

“What?” she demanded.

He snagged her by the wrist and pulled her toward the tap. He tested the water to make sure it was neither too hot or too cold before he tugged her finger under it. When she tried to withdraw her hand, he merely jerked it firmly back into place.

After he was sure she would leave her fingers under the water, he bent down to retrieve the first-aid kit from under the sink. In his haste, he managed to crack one of Sara’s knees with the door. Her yell resulted in him getting up too quickly and banging his head on the bottom of the stainless steel basin.

He saw stars and quickly decided to sit on the floor until his head stopped spinning.

Sara shut off the water and sank down beside him. They stared at each other for a long moment, before they both dissolved into hysterics.

As soon as she was able to catch her breath, she asked him, “Are you okay?”

He squinted for a moment and then nodded. Grissom indicated her knee, “And you? Do you need some ice?”

She shook her head, “Although it’s a good thing I wear long pants at work because it’s going to be one hell of a bruise.”

“What about your hand?”

“It’s just a flesh wound,” she replied with a grin. “But maybe next time we should order out,” she laughed.

“That would take all the fun out of it,” Grissom said still chuckling.

“And the danger,” Sara deadpanned.

“True,” he conceded.

She reached up to brush something from the side of his face in a gesture that was hauntingly familiar to them both.

“Chalk?” he asked after a pause.

“Flour,” she answered, showing him the remnants of the white stuff on her fingers.

“Ah,” he replied. Then after a moment he said, almost without thinking, “There never really was any chalk, was there?”

Sara considered her reply carefully. “No,” she responded truthfully and then —

“But you already knew that.”

He nodded.

“You don’t seem that upset about it.”

“I’m not and I wasn’t at the time.”

“Just surprised,” she suggested.

“Yes,” he admitted.

“Well, it was a good thing I didn’t do what I really wanted to do at the time then.”

“What was that?” he asked.

“This,” she said and slipped her hand back around his cheek, drawing his face towards hers and kissing him gently. As she pulled away, she said, “But I thought that was probably completely inappropriate behavior for work.”

“Probably,” he agreed with a slight smile which Sara easily returned.

She fiddled with the edge of his collar. “Seems like great minds think alike,” she said.

“Oh?”

“The color. I just realized it. We match.”

Indeed, the shirt he had been wearing beneath his suit jacket was a brilliant cobalt that further deepened the blueness of his eyes.

“Ah…”

The hesitancy in his reply as well as the hint of something odd in the way he did not quite look at her, made her suddenly question the happenstance.

“Why do I get the feeling it wasn’t a complete coincidence?”

“We both know there are no such things as coincidences, Sara.”

“Spill, Grissom,” she insisted.

“The knowledge of how something is done inevitably spoils the magic of the thing,” he replied.

“Right. But you see I don’t remember telling Catherine about the color of my dress.”

“You didn’t.”

“Then how did you know? Did Catherine tell you where I was going?”

“She didn’t have to. I overheard her talking on her cell phone in the hall.”

“You were spying!”

“No. Merely in the right place at the right time.”

“Sandra told me that what was said in her shop stayed in her shop.”

“It did. I stopped by this afternoon on the way home,” he answered.

Sara goggled at him.

“She asked me to say hello to you for her,” Grissom continued.

“That’s what she told me to say to you,” Sara laughed and then something clicked. “Wait a minute. Menelaus… Butterflies. Can you find blue morphos outside of South America?”

“Yeah, many of the indoor butterfly habitats have them because of the brilliance of their…”

“Color!” Sara exclaimed in realization. “That’s why she got so excited when I mentioned you liked butterflies, because she knew about how similar the two colors were.”

“Probably,” he admitted.

“But I still don’t understand why you wanted to know the color of my dress.”

“A gentleman always dresses to match,” Grissom confessed airily. “See, I told you that you would be disappointed in the answer.”

“Actually, I think I feel more flattered that you went through all that trouble than anything right now,” she said with a smile.

At that moment, Grissom’s stomach chose to give an insistent gurgle.

“Perhaps we should finish making dinner,” Sara suggested.

“Good idea,” he answered and extended his hand to help her up. “Are you going to be okay with that knife or should I give you one with training wheels?”

She laughed dismissively, “It was all your fault you know.”

“What was?”

“This whole comedy of errors. It’s your fault I was…”

“Preoccupied?” he suggested helpfully.

“Distracted,” she answered.

*******

Show and Tell

Sara had to admit that the pungent flavors of the vegetables and cheese in the crepes were well complimented by the hint of sweet and sour in the raspberry vinaigrette that Grissom used to dress the crisp spring greens and baby lettuce salad he served as an accompaniment. After a single bite, she was absolutely in raptures over the chocolate mouse he served for dessert.

As far as she was concerned, he could cook for her any time he wanted.

Grissom was pleased that Sara had enjoyed the meal, despite the chaos that had surrounded its production. In many ways, he had enjoyed the anarchy more than if things had gone exactly to plan. He supposed that perhaps the quest for perfection was slightly overrated and resolved to just enjoy the rest of the evening with Sara.

At this moment, she was up to her elbows in soap suds, having insisted that since he had done most of the cooking, the least she could do was wash up. He agreed only upon the condition that he handled the drying and putting away.

The easy settling into an unspoken routine that seemed so very comfortably routine, made Grissom smile. He had never had someone to share domestic chores with before. It felt even more satisfying than the easy division and completion of tasks at crime scene that he had long been accustomed to.

Sara was drying her hands on a fresh towel when she turned to him and said softly, “Grissom, can I ask you something?”

He almost said, “Besides what you just did?” but realized that she had something serious on her mind.

“Anything,” he replied, putting down his own towel to give her his full attention.

It was a habit he had developed from the time when he had been losing his hearing, to look directly at a person when they were speaking to him. It was a practice he often had trouble using with Sara as he wasn’t always sure what he would find when he looked in her eyes.

Tonight, however, he need not have worried, principally because her eyes were fixed on the floor.

“Sara?” he asked a little concerned, but trying desperately to hide it. After she didn’t continue, he suggested, “Why don’t we take this into the living room. I’ll make some tea and we can sit down and talk about what’s on your mind.”

As she disappeared from the kitchen, Grissom let out the breath he didn’t know he was holding and tried to calm the whirlwind of thoughts racing about his brain.

What if she thought this was all some horrible mistake?

That it was better that they went back to being friends or whatever the hell they used to be?

Could he honestly handle that now? he wondered.

Now that he knew what it was like to touch and be touched by her, to hold and be held by her, for her to kiss him in that way only she ever had, the one that made his mind completely empty even if only for as long as their lips were pressed together.

He tried to push those thoughts aside as he poured the hot water into a pair of mugs and added the teas bags.

No matter what she decided, he would support her, of that he was determined. He owed her that much and it was the least he could do.

Even if it broke his heart to do it.

He felt slightly more cheerful when Sara greeted him with a soft smile when he set down the tea things. He decided to let her tell him what was troubling her when she was ready. 

So they sat together and drank tea until she said quietly, “You hardly ever talk about when you were younger.”

Grissom thought this a fair assessment that needed no amendment or excuse, so he merely waited for her to continue.

“And you always seem so hesitant with physical contact.”

He supposed this too was true. But her next words were not.

“I’m not always so sure you want to be touched. Or at least that you want me to touch you.”

“Sara –” he said softly, but she shook her head, indicating that she wanted to get everything she wanted to say out before he replied.

“I guess I just wondered if… if someone hurt you, too.”

As this was the very last thing he had expected to hear her say, he stared at her dumbfounded for a moment before he shook his head vigorously and answered, “No, Sara.”

This answer actually seemed to heighten her disquiet rather then dispel it. She stammered uneasily, “Then if I’m doing something that makes you uncomfortable…”

“Sara, it’s not like that at all,” he quickly interjected.

“It’s just that you don’t seem comfortable in initiating…”

“Honey, it’s not me I’m worried about.”

“I don’t understand.”

“No one ever hurt me like that when I was a kid,” he began. “But someone did hurt you.”

They were both quiet for a moment, weighing the truth of what he had just said. Slowly, Sara nodded, coming to a sense of understanding, “So that’s why after I told you about my family you were always so careful with me. You are afraid of hurting me.”

He nodded this time.

She slid both her hands around his cheeks and held his face in such a way that he had little choice but to look at her as she said, “You have nothing to be afraid of. Grissom, I know you would never, never ever do that to me — to anyone. I trust you. I always have. But you have to trust, too. Remember what we agreed on — no more lines, no more walls?”

“Yes.”

“Grissom, do you want to touch me?”

“More than you know.”

“Then show me.”

*******

A Gentleman Never Asks

Sara was standing in the lab’s lone locker room lost in the quiet contemplation of the spray of tiny, white bell-shaped blossoms which she cradled in her hands when Greg came up behind her and whistled appreciatively.

“Must have been some hot date,” Greg said. “Too bad you got called in.”

Sara spun to face him, dropping the flowers as she did so. “I’m sorry,” she stammered in surprise.

After having got an even better look at her, he whistled again. “Really hot date,” he corrected himself.

Sara made a non-comital noise in the back of her throat as she bent to retrieve the corsage, but Greg snagged it first.

“So who was this hot mystery date of yours?” he asked, not readily relinquishing his prize. Upon further inspection of the flowers, he shook his head knowingly. “Looks pretty serious to me.”

Sara tried to laugh his assertion away, “What leads you to that deduction, Sherlock?”

“Well, you were with that Hank guy for how long?”

“Too long,” she answered testily.

“A year or so?”

Sara gave him a don’t go there look.

“Well, not once in all that time did I ever see you dressed like that.”

“Like what?” Sara asked waspishly.

“Well, in a dress for starters. Then there’s the heels and the stockings, your hair and makeup and…” he leaned a little closer, “… perfume?”

“It’s not perfume. And it was my day off.”

“Um hmm,” he nodded skeptically. “Besides, it looks pretty serious from his end too.”

“Why do you say that?”

Greg extended the flowers, “Lily of the Valley,” he explained.

“So?”

“They’re not the typical flowers a man gives a woman.”

“And you know this because?”

“Cousin of mine was a florist,” he replied off handedly. “What?” he asked at her incredulous expression. “Girls dig flowers. So I tried to pick up some tips,” he said with a casual shrug of the shoulders. “Well, Lily of the Valley are hard to get, especially this late in the season. You’d have to special order them and they’re expensive. I mean a spray like that costs way more than roses or orchids even. Believe me, men don’t spend that kind of money on flowers for some casual date. 

“Besides there is what the flowers mean, too.”

“You mean like roses mean love, right?”

“A single red rose can mean true love and desire, but you change the color or start adding more of them and the meaning changes completely,” Greg explained. “The Victorians had this whole complicated language of flowers thing. I guess since you couldn’t be open about your feelings and all, they had to say it with flowers.”

“And what do Lily of the Valley mean?”

“There’s the traditional association with purity and all that, but they can also mean a return to happiness and…” his voice trailed off as he scrutinized her appearance again. “So just how long have you and this guy been seeing each other?”

“Just spill it, Greg.”

“You tell me what I want to know and I’ll tell you what you want to know,” he replied playfully.

“A while. Happy?”

“No. Come one just a little dirt, Sara. I promise I won’t tell a soul.”

“If you value your life, Greg…”

“Well, let’s put it this way — you ever see ‘Jerry Maguire’?”

“With Tom Cruise? Yeah, why?”

“You remember its famous line?”

Show me the money?” Sara asked confused.

Greg shook his head dismissively, “Where is your sense of romance, Sara? No, what he says to her at the end.”

You complete me,” came a voice from the doorway. Both Sara and Greg spun to see Gil Grissom standing there looking thoughtful.

“Yeah,” said Greg. “I didn’t know you dug chick-flicks, Grissom.”

Grissom didn’t deign to answer, he merely brandished the pile of assignment slips he carried in his hand. He handed the topmost slip to Greg and said, “Greg, you and Sophia have an assault and battery case over at Desert Palms. Sophia is meeting you there.” Passing the next slip to Sara, he continued, “Sara, you have a burglary on the Strip.” He peered down at the last remaining slip. “I’ve got to help Swing process some insect evidence on a D.B. they found at Lake Mead.”

“Sounds like a plum assignment to me,” Greg quipped, shaking his head. As he headed out of the locker room, he said. “Don’t think you’re off the hook that easily, Sara. I’ll catch you later.”

“Off the hook for what?” Grissom asked him.

“Spilling the beans on her hot date.”

Grissom looked surprised at the notion. Then he said seriously, “Greg, didn’t you know a gentleman never asks.”

Greg chortled, “Yeah, right.”

Sara continued to regard Grissom who merely continued to hover in the doorway until he was sure the young CSI was out of earshot.

“Did you need something else, Grissom?” Sara asked with a smirk.

He smiled in return. “You weren’t really planning to wear that in the field, were you?” he asked, gesturing to her dress.

“Why not?” she answered flippantly. “Is that why you assigned me a solo case tonight that Greg or Sophia could have handled? Afraid to be distracted?”

“Yes,” he conceded. “Terribly. Turn around.”

“Why?”

“How else are you going to get those buttons undone?”

“Greg?” she suggested cheekily.

“Funny,” Grissom responded, beginning to undo the top buttons.

“You’re getting quite good with those,” Sara teased.

“Practice,” he quipped.

Sara laughed. “So how long were you standing there spying on us?”

“I never spy.”

“Yeah, right. So how much did you overhear?”

“I came in somewhere around Sherlock,” he replied.

“Ah,” she bit her lip nervously.

“So?” he asked.

“So — what?”

“Is it true, what he said about you and…” Grissom’s voice trailed off.

“Hank? That we dated?”

“That you never got dressed up…”

“Like this?” She finished. “Maybe. Why?”

“Just curious.”

“Well, as a matter of curiosity, was what he said about the flowers true, too?”

“Maybe. Why?” he replied nonchalantly, finishing the last of the buttons.

“Just curious.”

“So was it?” Grissom asked.

“Was it what?”

“A hot date?”

“You tell me,” she answered with a mischievous grin and then, “Is it pretty serious then?”

“You tell me,” he replied.

“I never wore a dress for Hank,” she admitted.

“Why not?”

Sara brushed past him, a change of clothes in hand. “I was never in love with him,” she replied, without casting him another look.

Grissom merely stood there speechless.

*******

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Tonight, Gil Grissom was grateful for the solo assignment. The drive gave him time to think and ponder and to, although he would never have admitted it to anyone, not even to himself, daydream.

The particular reverie that had him preoccupied at the moment was more memory rather than fantasy. A reality that pleased him immensely.

*******

“Then show me –”

Her words hung like a challenge between them.

One Grissom readily accepted. He gave Sara a broad smile and got to his feet.

She looked slightly perplexed at his actions, an expression that only deepened when leaned in and whispered in her ear, “Dance with me.”

Sara stammered slightly, “I… I don’t know how to…”

He picked up a remote from the coffee table and clicked on the CD player. Soon the soft sounds of piano turned to the deep and sultry sounds of Nat King Cole. 

I love you…

“Just dance with me, Sara,” he persisted gently.

For sentimental reasons.

Although still hesitant, she took his proffered hand and let him lead her to an open space.

I hope you do believe me

Grissom slid a hand along her waist, and drew her to him.

I’ll give you my heart

Her left hand settled on his forearm as he took her right in his. They swayed a little awkwardly on the spot.

He brushed his cheek against hers, murmuring as he did so, “Relax, Sara. It’s just a dance.”

Slowly, the tension left her shoulders and he was pleased to feel her settle a little into his arms.

“Was that so hard?” he said softly.

Before she could answer, he released her hand and spun her slowly. They collided slightly as he spun her back again. Once the shock of the unexpected move had worn off, Sara laughed. Grissom smiled and did it again, this time catching her expertly.

“Since when do you know how to dance?” she asked curiously.

“Since I was fourteen,” he answered. “It was one of the few things my mother insisted upon my learning. 

“I guess I’m a little rusty,” he grinned.

“Hardly,” Sara disagreed. Then with a smile that echoed his, she said, “Do it again.”

He twirled her out, but this time when he pulled her close, his hand came to rest on the small of her back. They were both a bit breathless as he bent his head towards her. Sara closed her eyes, but instead of kissing her, Grissom tilted her into a dip. 

He laughed at her bemused expression and drew her back up, his eyes still sparkling with mischief. She reached up and stroked his cheek. He took her hand and kissed her palm in a way that was quickly becoming familiar to them both.

I hope you do believe me

I’ve given you my heart

As the music died away he really did kiss her — long and sweet.

I need you. I want you. His heart yearned to say, but as he often found himself with Sara, he just didn’t know the words.

So he poured all his love, all his hope, and all his heart into that kiss and the ones that followed until he felt so utterly lost — and found — all at once.

It was only once Sara laughed softly, that he pulled away, himself now a little confused.

“Elvis?” she asked bemused at his befuddlement.

Which is when he realized the song had changed to “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You.”

“A little cliche, don’t you think?”

Grissom gave her a look of patented disbelief. “What?” he queried. “He was called The King for a reason.”

They both smiled at this. Sara narrowed the slender space still separating them, slid her hand up his arm until it rested on the back of his neck. He took her other hand and cradled it against his chest. She laid her head on his shoulder. He kissed her forehead and smoothed her hair before his fingers slid along her spine to settle once more on the small of her back. They continued to sway slightly to the music, more intent on maintaining the contact and closeness than worrying about their steps.

Some things are meant to be.

He kissed the hollow of her neck, breathing in deep the smell of her.

“Lemongrass,” he whispered.

Sara laughed. “Are there to be no mysteries with you?” she asked with a smirk.

“More than a lifetime’s worth,” he replied. “But you might have to be patient with me as I try to figure them all out.”

“I’d say you’re doing a fairly good job, Grissom.”

Take my hand, take my whole life, too.

“Sara –” he began, nuzzling her neck.

For I can’t help falling in love with you.

“Mmm,” she replied, slightly distracted by the warmth of his breath and lips on her skin.

“Don’t you think it’s time you started calling me Gil? At least in private?”

For I can’t help falling in love with you.

“Is that what this is?” she asked teasingly. “Private?”

“Intimately so,” he answered.

Her half-questioning, half-exclamation, “Oh?” was almost lost in a sigh as he kissed her again.

The next song turned even slower, sultrier — a slow syncopated sway of a melody.

Oh, my love, my darling,

I’ve hungered for your touch a long, lonely time.

“Are you trying to seduce me?” she asked softly.

“Depends. Is it working?”

The only answer she gave him was to draw him back in for a long lingering kiss.

Are you still mine?

As he pulled away, he turned her in his arms until her back rested against his chest. One hand settled on her stomach, holding her close to him. The other turned her chin towards him and he laid a trail of feather-light kisses from her lips, down her neck and across her collar bone. As he brushed his lips against her bare shoulder, he eased the strap of her slip aside, kissing the newly exposed skin as he went.

I need your love.

Her fingers tangled in his hair as she relished the tenderness of his caress.

I need your love.

A sudden smirk spread over her face.

“Grissom,” she whispered. But this did not seem to get his attention, so she tried again, still slightly breathless, “Gil.”

He registered her use of his first name with a soft, “Yes,” that buzzed against the nape of her neck.

“Either you are really happy to see me or your phone’s going off.”

As she reached into his pocket and withdrew the offending item, she said, “As much as I’d prefer it was the former, I think its more likely the latter.”

She turned and handed him his phone with a sad smile. He took it from her and reluctantly scanned the caller id.

Sara nodded as if to indicate she understood and went over to the stereo to turn it off as Grissom flipped his phone open and gave his customary greeting.

She left him to take down the details of his latest page.

She slipped her dress back over her head, not quite as careful this time in making sure she didn’t disturb her hair. She would have to take it down and pin it back up again when she got to work anyway.

“Would you like me to drop you off at home first?” Grissom asked, looking sorely apologetic.

“No, I have a spare change of clothes in my locker,” she said. “But you might want to freshen up first.”

“Oh?”

She brushed her thumb against his cheek in effort to rid him of the tell-tale trace of lipstick. He grinned and took the hint, disappearing down a hall for several minutes. Sara loitered at his bookshelves, running her fingers along the well-read tomes. When he returned, Grissom had washed and changed into his typical work attire. She laughed.

“What?” he asked, looking more self-conscious all of the sudden than she had ever seen him.

“You still look like you’ve been thoroughly kissed,” she said, smoothing his hair.

“So do you,” he rejoined with a smile, but then his face fell. “I am sorry.”

She shook her head, “I know. But you wouldn’t be who you are if it were any other way. And I am rather fond of you just as you are.”

“Thank you,” he said, giving her a gentle kiss on the cheek. “Rain check then?” he asked.

“As it usually doesn’t rain that much in Vegas, let’s just agree that tonight’s to be continued.”

“Fair enough.”

“Do me up,” she said, turning.

He did so reluctantly, then covered her bare shoulders with her shawl, but not before pausing to run a curl between his fingers and place one last kiss on her neck.

Sara sighed.

“Shall we?” he asked.

 

*******

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