21 – Spontaneous Combustion

Every once in a while, life is an unlooked for visit, the acceptance of a spontaneous invitation, and a moment of both passion and peace.

Unsurprisingly, these are the things that make everything worth it.

Post season six, circa August 2006

******

“Uh, hi,” Sara stammered in surprise as she, in response to the insistent rap on her front door, found a patiently waiting Gil Grissom perched on her doorstep. “You do realize that you have a key?” she sighed, bemused and honestly a little perplexed at his sudden and unexpected appearance.

There was a hint of genuine concern in his voice when after having taken in the sight of her standing barefoot in the doorway, dressed only in a thin-strapped camisole and cotton pajama pants and with her hair haphazardly pulled back, he asked, “Did I wake you?”

“At this hour?” she queried, flabbergasted at just the thought. “Are you kidding?”

He smiled and nodded knowingly before asking, “Am I interrupting anything?”

“Hardly,” she replied, grinning still a little uneasily. It wasn’t that she wasn’t glad to see him; Sara was, but if Grissom was anything, it was a creature of habit, and Gil Grissom did not habitually just show up on people’s doorsteps unannounced. As she still wasn’t sure why he had come, she decided a hint of a tease was in order. “Are you stopping by in person to summon people into work these days?”

For his part, Grissom looked more amused than anything. “I’m not here about work,” he replied.

Sara stepped back and pushed the door open a little wider. “You want to come in then?”

“No.”

“So you just stopped by to knock on the door and say hi?” she continued to fish.

He shook his head. “We’re going out.”

“Out?”

“Is there an echo around here?” he laughed. “Yes, out.”

“Right now?”

“Right now.”

Still trying and yet failing miserably to come to some sort of terms with the whole unreal feeling his presence was suddenly invoking, she asked, “Do I at least get a minute to change first?”

“You still keep that bag with a spare change of clothes in your car?” was all he said in response.

She pursed her lips and shook her head rather ruefully. “That doesn’t answer my question, but yeah.”

“We’ll grab it on the way out then,” he answered. “Just put on some shoes and you’ll be fine.”

“Dressed like this?” Sara chuckled. “I mean I know that turn about is fair play, Gris, but I at least let you change out of your pajamas before I dragged you out last month.”

“You look lovely just the way you are, my dear.”

The unvarnished honesty in those words, the ones untempered by guile or agenda and spoken as if they were just the truth, plain and simple, gave her pause.

“Come on,” he urged as she continued to stand there and just gape at him, utterly at a loss for words. “Humor me,” he entreated in that imploring sort of way that she never could resist.

Grissom really could be charming when he wanted to, very much so in fact. Perhaps that was why she never really could say no to him, whether it was a requests to come in early on her day off or to trust him with her heart and her life. And she did. She did trust him. She always had.

“All right, Gilbert,” she acquiesced. “Just give me one minute, okay?”

He nodded and Sara retreated inside to grab her keys and hurriedly slip on her shoes.

As she turned to lock up, she said with a bewildered shake of the head, “You do realize that this is rather unusual behavior for 7 p.m. on a work night. I mean what if we are called in early?”

“That is what cell phones are for,” he supplied evenly.

“Right.”

Grissom laughed appreciatively. “While your devotion to your work is admirable as always, we are only going twenty minutes out of the city,” he said, glancing down at his watch.

“Do we have to be somewhere at a particular time?” she asked as they descended the steps into the parking garage.

“Actually, yes. So if you have exhausted the last of your protests…”

“Not protesting,” Sara countered, grabbing the bag from the back seat of her car as she did so. “Just… curious. So are you going to clue me into where we are going, or is this another one of your surprises?”

He only smiled enigmatically in reply.

She rolled her eyes.

Grissom shrugged, “Like you said, turn about is fair play.”

*******

They took I-15 south out of the city, leaving the bright lights behind them as they pursued the sunset down a long stretch of Blue Diamond Road. When they pulled off onto a rough dirt patch and got out of the car, Sara shot Grissom an inquiring glance.

“Why do I have the strange feeling that we’ve been here before, you and I?” she said.

He shrugged and pulled a faded over-sized patchwork quilt from the trunk along with a small battery powered lantern. “We have.”

It was as she followed him down the hill, that she realized exactly when they had. The ever deepening darkness and the fact that much of the previously chard and burnt undergrowth had re-grown and begun to flourish once again had thrown her for a moment.

Her eyes went wide. “So what exactly are we doing here?” Sara asked.

“Stargazing of course,” Grissom replied and then after peering up into the sky and orientating himself, began to spread the blanket onto a smooth patch of grass.

“For a moment there I thought…” her voice trailed off.

He motioned for her to sit down. “Thought what?”

“Nothing,” she replied with a dismissive shake of the head before taking his hand and settling down beside him.

“The view is still breathtaking, isn’t it?” he asked. After a moment, he turned his gaze upon her. “If not perhaps more so,” he continued , his voice soft and almost breathless.

Sara’s eyes twinkled at the unlooked for compliment.

He flicked off the lantern and she shifted her gaze to sky and began to watch the night fall in earnest.

It wasn’t long before Sara was struck with the sudden realization that Grissom was quiet, or at least a lot quieter than she had expected him to be given the circumstances. Sara had seriously expected him to regale her with at least one of his sometimes quirky and esoteric anecdotes. And while she never let on, she had always enjoyed this particular trait of his. She loved to listen to the way his voice got a far away sound to it when he really got going.

But tonight, he seemed rather pensive and when she peered over at him, she was surprised to find him engrossed in watching her rather than the sky. For while his gaze was soft and tender, there was a strange intensity to it, as if his eyes were slowly taking her in so he could memorize every inch of her.

“What are you….” she began, unable to decide whether to smile or blush or sigh or a mixture of all three at the attention.

“Finding constellations,” he supplied evenly.

“I think you’re looking in the wrong direction, Gris.”

“No.”

Her lips began to twitch into a pleased sort of grin. “Discover anything interesting?” she asked.

Instead of answering in words, he took her hand, turned it palm down and began sketching shapes on her skin, connecting her freckles as he did so.

His fingers brushed as light as breath as they slowly edged up the length of her arm, then along her shoulder before dipping to caress the bare patch of skin just below her chin.

Sara leaned into his touch and sighed, “Those aren’t real constellations.”

“The grouping stars into constellations is essentially arbitrary,” he countered knowingly. “Any of them can be linked to form asterisms.”

“I see,” Sara replied and reached up to curl her hand aside his cheek and rub her thumb along the cleft of his chin that had been better revealed when he had recently taken it upon himself to shave off the beard he had sported for the last several years. The smoothness she found there still felt foreign beneath her fingertips.

“I thought you never got hot,” she teased. For that had been the excuse he had given her when he had shown up to the table all clean-shaven one afternoon.

Grissom didn’t deign to reply to this. Instead, he turned his head and pressed a kiss into her palm. Then his mouth began to follow the path his fingers had, lingering first at the pulse point at her wrist, then in the sensitive patch on the inside of her elbow before moving to the smooth hollow of her neck and finally traveling down the slight slope of her shoulder blades that her top left exposed. The soft press of his lips, the light brush of his nose, the warmth of his breath overwhelmed her.

The kiss that followed began relatively innocent enough, but it was not long before they both had to break away for air.

“You were right, by the way,” Grissom began as he brushed that one stray strand that never did stay back behind her ear. “This is a good make-out spot.”

Sara beamed. He hadn’t forgotten after all.

“I am rather curious about one thing, though,” he murmured into her hair. “How did you know it was?”

“Like I said, it was just something I heard.”

“Cite your source.”

“Oh, no,” she protested. “No way.”

But he insisted, “Cite your source, Sara.”

“Fine,” she conceded. “If you must know the truth, I just made it up. I was flirting with you. Or attempting to flirt with you. Obviously, I was a bit out of practice.”

“I wouldn’t say that,” he disagreed. “But flirting at a crime scene?”

“Like you’ve never flirted on the job.”

“Never,” he solemnly intoned.

“Really?” she queried in disbelief. “This from the man who told me right in the middle of the lab hallway that he was pretty good at mouth-to-mouth.”

He stared at her bewildered.

“A few months back,” she prompted. “Three dead teens. No clues. And I asked if you could breathe a little life into their autopsy photographs.” When recognition still failed to fill his face, she shook her head and said, “Sometimes I think you play dumb on purpose. In fact, I know you play dumb on purpose.”

Grissom grinned a little sheepishly. “So I’m not?” he asked with an expectant raise of an eyebrow.

“I didn’t say that,” Sara returned and flashed him a mischievous grin. “But I may need another demonstration in order to be sure.”

“I suppose that could be arranged.” He leaned in and kissed her until they were both breathless yet again.

She sighed and said, “I thought mouth-to-mouth was supposed to revive the victim, not take their breath away.”

He kissed her again before saying, “I must have missed that part of my last certification. Probably got called in early on a case.”

“Likely excuse,” she scoffed.

“Complaining?” he asked, drawing her down onto the blanket with him.

“No,” she smiled as she laid back and rested her head on his chest. Grissom draped a protective arm around her. His fingers edged slightly beneath the hem of her top before coming to rest on her stomach. They both stared up at the great expanse of sky in a contented sort of silence.

*******

After a while, Sara said, “You know I just realized. Isn’t it a little early in the evening for stargazing?” she asked. For the stars were just starting to wink and blink en masse into existence above them.

“We aren’t watching for stars,” he replied.

“But I thought you said we were here for stargazing.”

“There are other things to look for in the night sky,” he rejoined.

“So what are we looking for then?”

“The Perseids.”

Sara frowned. “I thought the moon was too bright to see them this year.”

“The moon doesn’t rise for a few hours yet.”

“But aren’t the peak viewing hours in the early morning? Unless I am mistaken, we both have to be into work well before then,” she laughed

“For the meteor shower, yes,” he agreed. “But the experts are saying tonight is the perfect chance to spot an earthgrazer or two.”

“An earthgrazer?”

“A meteor that just skims the top of earth’s atmosphere,” Grissom explained. “Like a rock skimming across the surface of a pond.”

Sara’s smile began to widen at this. His voice had once again taken on that almost awestruck quality to it that she knew and loved so well.

“Even a particle no larger than a marble can explode into a fireball of light upon impact with the sky,” he continued, “and unlike conventional meteors which flash and burn up in an instant, earthgrazers stream across the sky for much longer intervals.”

“When was the last time you saw one?”

“Never,” he admitted. “But, I believe you were the one who taught me that there was a first time for everything.”

“Did I?” she asked, gathering up his free hand and beginning to brush her fingers against his in a way that always made him want to close his eyes and breathe deep with the pleasure of that touch.

“Yes,” he replied. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

“Neither would I.”

 

*******

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