12 – Love Letters

Often when it matters most, the words we most want to say to the ones we most want to say them to get trapped somewhere between the heart and the voice. When Sara finds herself in this predicament, she decides that speaking can be overrated.

Follows “Devoutly to be Wished” and takes place post season five, circa July 2005

*******

Sara Sidle always knew Gil Grissom to be a passionate man.

He was passionate about his insects and the specimens he kept under glass; passionate about his work and his sometimes offbeat experiments.

What she never really realized was that Gil Grissom was passionate about her.

But he was.

Perhaps it wasn’t that sort of rip your clothes off and do it on the kitchen table sort of passion. It wasn’t a dozen red roses delivered along with cheesy Hallmark sentiments or flashy evenings out on the town.

But it was passion.

He may have been a little hesitant at first, a little leery and concerned and there had been some awkwardness on both their parts, but in many ways, all those things had made the whole experience all the more satisfying.

And it didn’t take Sara long to learn better than to underestimate the passion of a patient man, especially one who proved thorough and attentive and curious, who was gentle and yet ardent in his own way.

Although she supposed that their exploits would have barely warranted a raised eyebrow amongst their colleagues, if they had referred to anyone other than themselves.

In Vegas, quiet stolen summer hours spent in the patient pursuit of finding just the right place to kiss or caress would, more often than not, be considered woefully mundane.

For Sara, however, it was a bit of heaven, a stolen season. Even despite the fact that when she added up all the time they had spent alone together since that afternoon in April when she had kissed him for the first time, it would hardly have filled half of an entire week.

Work was work and had its way of always getting in the way. There were lots of afternoons cut short, or the very rare evenings off often canceled because it was summer in Las Vegas and the natives were always restless when the mercury began to rise.

She supposed she should have been disappointed. Rather, the whole potentially fleeting nature of the time they could manage to spend together only made it sweeter.

Besides, it wasn’t like they didn’t see each other frequently, almost every day.

She had thought it might have been difficult to keep their public and private lives separate, but it wasn’t.

While they occasionally spoke about the cases they were working on outside of the lab, what they did the privacy of his townhouse or her apartment or in the quiet places they liked to frequent together never interfered with work.

It affected their work, yes.

Their deepening relationship helped to make them better partners, more open to listening to each other and to consider different possibilities.

But private was private, and their life together outside the lab was private and intimately so.

And that was just how it was.

This afternoon, however, Grissom was late, well later than usual.

However, Sara wasn’t all that surprised.

On her way out of the lab, herself running rather later that morning, she had seen Ecklie enter Grissom’s office grim-faced and carrying a large stack of file folders, neither signs boded well.

That had been more than four hours ago.

Which meant things really hadn’t gone well.

While she was tempted to call to make sure he hadn’t expired of bureaucratic boredom, she knew that the last thing Grissom needed right now was for Conrad Ecklie to be interrupted in mid-lecture by his phone going off.

Besides, what was she going to say?

Honey, are you coming home soon?

She rolled her eyes at the thought. Yeah, that would go over so well.

Besides, she was sure that Grissom wouldn’t answer to honey in the first place, even if he had used that name with her upon occasion.

Having a fairly good idea of where he was and what he was doing, didn’t keep her from pausing in her slicing and peeling of peaches to glance down at her watch every few minutes and shake her head as she did so.

It wasn’t as if they spent every waking hour together. They had both been single for so long the idea of being in a relationship and what it entailed was still a little new and still slightly fear inducing. So they took things slow and made sure they still had plenty of time for themselves. Still, Sara didn’t like having their plans unexpectedly curtailed, least of all by Conrad Ecklie.

She took out her frustrations with the lab’s reigning assistant director on the peaches. It wasn’t long before she was scooping up the last of the slices from the cutting board and dropping them into the large bowl. She quickly rinsed her hands and placed the dish in the refrigerator. She was in the process of removing a carton of cream from the top shelf when there was a soft, yet sure tap on the door. She wiped her hands with a towel and went to answer it.

“I should just give you a key,” she said as she opened the door. The grin on her face faded slightly as she caught sight of Grissom. “I knew it would be bad, but not that bad,” she said in a conciliatory tone.

“You have no idea,” he sighed as she touched him gently on the cheek.

“Sorry,” she said, gesturing for him to come in.

“I’m the one who should be sorry. For being so late,” he added, following her inside.

“I know it couldn’t be helped. Can you stay for a while, or did you just stop by to tell me you needed to head home?”

“I’d like to stay.”

“But?”

“No buts,” he replied.

She smiled and went back to work in the kitchen.

Despite his fatigue and the frustrations of the last sixteen hours, Grissom couldn’t help but smile in appreciation as he watched her retreating form.

While the thin strapped camisole and plain lounging pants weren’t particularly revealing, the vision of her standing there in her bare feet looking so relaxed and at ease and appearing as if she had just come out of the shower (her still damp hair having been hastily pulled up into a ponytail) was extremely enticing.

“You want something to drink?” Sara called, peering over her shoulder at him. “It’s a little hot for tea or coffee unless you want it on ice, but there is juice or milk or water.”

It was then that he noticed the clutter in the kitchen. “I can get it,” he replied, taking a glass down from the shelf. “You need a refill?” he asked, seeing her own half empty cup on the counter.

“I’m good, thanks,” Sara said, returning to the cream.

Grissom poured himself a glass of water and came up behind her. “You get tired of waiting?” he inquired, peering curiously over her shoulder and watching her vigorously beat the liquid into whipped cream.

Usually, she hated having anyone invade her personal space, but this was different, this was Grissom, so she merely kept working.

“No, why?”

“You’re cooking,” he stated simply.

Sara laughed, “I hardly think that whipping cream constitutes cooking, Grissom. It’s just physics. You know applied forces, dispersion of molecules, density changes and all that. No actual chemistry involved. So you don’t have to worry.”

“Why would I worry?” he asked. “You’ve been in the kitchen alone.”

“Funny,” she intoned. “The stove’s been off the whole time.”

“Thank goodness for that. So it’s just been applied physics then?”

“I’ve got to put that fancy degree of mine to use somehow. There hasn’t been a lot of need for it in the lab as of late. Just a lot of stupid people doing stupid things, thinking stupidly that they wouldn’t get caught.”

“Wouldn’t a mixer be easier?” Grissom teased.

“Probably,” she conceded. “But I don’t own one.”

He shook his head. He wasn’t surprised. She didn’t have a microwave either.

“Peaches and crème and toast sound good?”

“As long as the peaches and crème aren’t on the toast — very,” he replied with a grin. Sara tutted at the quip, which only served to encourage him. “But you don’t own a toaster the last time I looked.”

“You might want to look again.”

So he did. And there it was, a shiny chrome plated toaster proudly perched on the counter, looking very obviously new.

“As you’ve been spending more time over here, I thought it might be a good idea to get one,” she explained. “I mean even I can make whole wheat toast and fruit.

“Thank heavens you are not an omelet and hash browns kind of guy. Or we might have a problem.”

Grissom chuckled. She thought that it was good to hear him laugh, even if it was at her expense.

“Omelets aren’t that hard, dear.”

“I’ll stick to toast for right now, if you don’t mind.”

“Afraid to wake the neighbors with the smoke alarm?” he asked.

She shot him a dirty look.

“Need any help?” he quickly offered and while she was adding more cream to the bowl, he reached around her to steal a taste. She smacked his hand away and glared.

“Shower,” she insisted, wrinkling up her nose.

He gave her a hurt expression as he retreated. “That bad?” he queried.

“It’s July. It’s over a hundred degrees out there. You’ve just practically pulled a double and the last case was a decomp, so yeah it is.” She put down her whisk and placed a hand on his shoulder to still him. She leaned in and kissed him on the cheek before shooing him off again. “There are fresh towels on the rack. Oh and Grissom…”

“Yes, dear?”

“You might need these,” she replied tossing him two lemons from the counter in quick succession.

*******

“This is nice,” Grissom whispered, having gathered up their empty plates and deposited them into the sink.

“What? Not having to cook for once?”

“That too,” he replied, beginning to run the water. “But no, that wasn’t what I was thinking.” He began washing up, and Sara took the rinsed plates from him, dried them and replaced them in the cupboard. The reversal of dish duties seemed odd at first, but Grissom thought it only right that he wash up after she cooked, or rather toasted. He gestured to the space around them. “Your apartment in the afternoon. It’s nice,” he replied. “Warm and inviting.”

“It’s the paint and the windows and the fact that I don’t keep them covered all the time like you do,” Sara explained with a smirk, pleased to see that the shower and the food had seemed to revive him a little. “Besides I thought you liked your little cave,” she teased. “I do. It’s soothing in a dark and brooding sort of way, like you sometimes.”

She was surprised when he didn’t rise to take the bait and merely finished cleaning up the last bowl.

His voice was oddly pensive when he finally replied, “No, it’s not that.” He turned to her with an almost twinkle in his eyes. “It’s you.”

Sara didn’t quite know how to respond, so she simply smiled and kissed him.

“That’s nice, too,” he said.

Her hands slid over his shoulders to draw him nearer as she deepen their next kiss.

When she drew away, she looked concerned. “You’re still tense,” she said.

“Budgets appropriations always make me tense.”

“Budget talks this early?” she inquired in disbelief, beginning to massage the back of his neck.

His eyes closed at the contact.

“Afraid so,” he answered almost absentmindedly. “One of Ecklie’s new departmental initiatives is to coordinate needs and expenditures across all three shifts.”

“Sounds like a headache.”

“It is.”

“Sorry,” she said softly, and both of her hands moved to his hair. She was pleased to hear him utter a long, low sigh.

Until recently, it was not a sound she would have associated with Grissom.

Of course she would never have thought that a man like Gil Grissom, who was so guarded and seemed to shun physical contact, would welcome and even crave being touched.

But he did.

“You want me to get the curtains?”she asked.

He shook his head. “No, it’s not that bad. Besides you’d have to stop what you’re doing.”

“And you don’t want me to stop?” she queried, moving her fingers to his temples.

It took him a few moments to reply and it seemed a very distracted sort of “No” when he did.

“This would be a whole lot easier in bed.”

At this, he gave her a curious glance.

She fought back a grin and said, “With you lying down. Not so far to reach,” she clarified.

When he made neither comment nor motion, she pursed her lips, removed her hands and looking slightly stern said, “Bed. Now.”

He raised a quizzical eyebrow in response.

“Now,” she repeated, having a hard time staying serious as she did so.

“I love it when you’re bossy,” he chuckled and acquiesced.

Sara rolled her eyes. “Shirt off, too.”

“Yes, dear.”

She watched him slowly undo the top two buttons and with an exasperated groan brushed his hands aside and took over.

“Patience is a virtue, Sara,” he chided, but did not stop her movements.

“Both patience and virtue are highly overrated.”

“Really?” he asked, taking a seat at edge head of the bed, having been efficiently divested of his shirt.

“On your back,” she instructed; then added, “Please.” At this he looked confused. Sara shook her head and sighed, “Trust me.” But when he laid down as he always did, she said, “The other way,” and pulled up a stool and sat down. She gave him a reassuring wink and a grin as he peered up at her. “And, Grissom…”

“Yes?”

“I know this is hard for you,” she began, “but try and relax.”

And with that she cradled the back of his head in her hands and began to use her thumbs to slowly work her way up the length of his neck. After a few minutes, she could feel the tightness there ease a little.

“Where did you learn how to do this?” Grissom murmured appreciatively.

“College.”

“They taught massage at Harvard?”

“No, It was at Berkley,” she answered amused. “Sometimes things could get a little tense during exams and one of my study buddies was married to a chiropractor. I thought I might as well pick up some tips.”

“Your diligence in the pursuit of knowledge as always shows.”

“Thank you.”

“Good hands?” he asked.

“Me?”

“No,” he answered.

Then she realized what he was asking. “My study buddy Peter was married to Anne who was the chiropractor,” she offered, both slightly vex and yet bemused at him. “And yes, she did have good hands by the way.” Sara shook her head and scoffed, “Green is not your color, Grissom.”

“Green?” he asked.

“Yes, green. You.” Then when he didn’t seem to be getting what she was saying, she added, “Jealous much?”

“Never.”

“Right.”

Her hands moved from his neck to his shoulders, warming the muscles and applying gentle pressure with the knots until they released. Beyond just the feel of him relaxing beneath her fingertips, she could tell it was working as his eyes were now closed and his breathing had grown deep and regular. She thought that perhaps he had fallen asleep; he certainly seemed to be close in doing so. Sara smiled.

“Come on,” she whispered, stopping her ministrations.

He squinted blearily at her.

“Bed,” she said.

“I am in bed,” he said.

“With me.”

He didn’t require any further elucidation or enticement.

*******

At last, after the long, glaring heat of the day, night had finally come to Vegas.

While the tourists and the very young or very foolhardy, welcomed the dark as a sign to come out and play, for many others, the last of summer’s fading twilight heralded the time to rest and dream away the long hours until the light and a slight measure of sanity returned to the city.

For the two sleepers just starting to stir, nestled, as they still were one next to the other, lingering yet in the warmth of bare skin against bare skin, night meant something else entirely.

It was the time when life began again with all its complications.

But not quite yet.

For now there was just the wonderful feel of lips being pressed against her neck, urging her awake. Sara sighed.

“Is this your way of telling me I need to get up to go to work?” she whispered, not at all displeased at having been woken.

His “No” buzzed against her skin.

“You need to go?” she asked, hoping the answer would also be no and happy to find it was. “Then what then?”

Grissom smiled a soft, mischievous sort of grin that she was both surprised and satisfied to see, before kissing her thoroughly in reply.

They were quietly lost in each other for a while.

“We should do this more often,” he suggested, still a little blissfully breathless as he settled down beside her.

“What? Sleep through a whole afternoon for once? How often does that ever happen?”

“Not often,” he conceded reluctantly. “But I meant being able to wake up with you.”

“That is nice,” Sara agreed. “And we should do it more often.”

He placed a kiss on her collarbone and whispered, “Definitely.”

She began tracing abstract shapes onto his back.

“That is nice, too,” he said, reveling in the close contact.

For Sara, it felt like one of those very rare perfect moments in life where the rest of the world went on as completely obvious to you as you were to it.

When he called her name, it was so soft and full of feeling, she hardly recognized it.

It was arresting.

There was always so much she wanted to say to him, tell him, but especially at times like these, the emotions, the feelings got in the way.

Several weeks back, Grissom had told her he loved her. While she had gathered as much previously from his actions, hearing him say those words had meant a great deal to her, for she knew how much the saying of them had cost him.

She had not repeated them to him then. She had wanted and still wanted, to give them freely, unasked for and unexpected.

But there was never the time or the place or the moment or the words.

As she lay, safe and warm and snug beside him, she remembered a game she used to play with her brothers when she was just learning her letters. The game had come in handy later when the troubles were really bad and there were words of comfort or care that needed to be spoken but couldn’t be said aloud.

So she began tracing letters on Grissom’s back. He shivered slightly and laughed, telling her that it tickled. She tried again, just a few letters, a combination her older brother would often use on her as the word almost always inspired the doing of the action.

“Guess,” Sara said.

“Guess what?”

“You never sent secret messages by writing them on someone else’s back?”

He shook his head, looking rather perplexed by the whole idea of why someone would do such a thing.

“Then humor me.” When he continued to look doubtful she asked, “Where is your sense of scientific curiosity?”

“For you — and the sake of science then,” he allowed.

She redrew the same letters as before, one at a time at first to allow him time to guess each in turn. Just as she remembered, s-m-i-l-e did prompt a smile from him. He quickly got h-e-l-l-o and even h-o-w-a-r-e-y-o-u as well. But she hurried through the next eight letter combination.

“Can you do it a little slower?” he asked slightly confused.

He could make out an I and an L and a Y.

“That’s all one word?”

“Three,” she answered. She repeated letters.

Once she had finished, he sat up and looked at her, his eyes wide.

“Do you mean it?” he asked.

“I wouldn’t have written it if I didn’t,” she admitted a little shyly.

His shock shifted into a smile and he motioned for her to roll over. She trembled a little when he drew back the sheet.

C-o-l-d.

He wrote.

“A little.”

He ran his hands down her back to warm her.

“I don’t remember that being part of the game,” she said still slightly nervous.

“Do you want me to stop?” he asked. She shook her head. “Then stop complaining.”

Once most of the goosebumps had disappeared, he began to write again. Four words this time — the three she had written plus another three letters.

Her eyes were bright when she turned to face him. “I see you got my message,” she said.

“Get mine?”

“Yes.”

This time, Sara didn’t need to use her hands, instead she employed her lips, first whispering, “More than you know” and then to cover his own and kiss him into comprehension.

*******

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