02 – Breaking the (Good) News

Continued from Dr. Grissom, I Presume

There was just something about a shower after a long journey. It had the tendency to make a person feel just a bit more human again — or at least clean, which Grissom thought was something anyway.

He returned from showering to find Sara in the midst of making up the cots in the tent. In his absence, she had pushed the two of them together to make what appeared to be a fairly convincing imitation of a full sized bed.

He paused, abruptly wonderstruck at the sight of her. It wasn’t that he hadn’t seen her make up a bed dozens of times before, for he had. And yet, it felt different somehow.

There was the flash of whiteness, the whoosh of air as she shook the top sheet open, the flutter of fabric as it descended onto the mattress, the sureness with which her hands smoothed the cloth free of wrinkles and firmly tucked in the corners.

As she moved to finish up the opposite side, she noticed him standing there, now freshly showered and changed, his hair still damp and his dirty clothes over one arm.

Their eyes met and she smiled. Both the time and the attendant tasks that had kept her busy while he had been gone, had done much to settle her nerves. Grissom returned the grin with an equal amount of affection, draped his clothes on an empty chair and proceeded to help her finish making the bed.

“Feel better?” she asked.

“Much.”

“One of the side effects of traveling no one ever tells you about,” she sighed and motioned for him to have a seat on the cot. “Makes you appreciate a shower and clean clothes almost as much as a decomp does.”

As he sat he gestured to their surroundings and said, “I guess this means they don’t have issues with fraternization.”

Sara shrugged. “It would be rather hypocritical if they did.”

“Why is that?”

“You didn’t know?” she queried in reply but he only continued to look clueless. “Stephen is Ana’s – Dr. Velazquez’s – husband. Traditionally Tico women don’t take their husbands’ names when they marry.”

Grissom nodded in comprehension. Sara’s grin turned impish. “You mean there is actually something Gil Grissom doesn’t know?”

The decision on Grissom’s part not to even dignify the question with a response, only made Sara’s smile widen.

She was still chuckling to herself as she reached over to the small table at the head of the bed to remove a saucer from where it rested on top of a mug.

“To keep out the bugs,” she explained as she handed him the steaming cup.

He eyed it curiously for a moment before giving it a wary sniff. It wasn’t as if he was squeamish or really worried about anything Sara might give him, but he thought it didn’t hurt to be a little careful especially on his first day in a country whose customs and cuisine were mostly foreign to him.

When it appeared that he had completed his cursory examination and still hadn’t risked tasting any, Sara decided to clue him in. “It’s agua dolce,” she explained. “Milk mixed with pure cane sugar.”

“The Costa Rican equivalent of a glass of warm milk?”

“More like hot chocolate without the chocolate,” she replied. “I’ve never tried it for insomnia, but it is good for a hot day.”

“Oh?” he asked, trying to work out how something hot helped with the heat as he typically stuck to cold beverages after any prolonged exposure to the Vegas heat.

“I know it sounds counterintuitive,” admitted Sara. “But while it doesn’t work to directly cool you off, it re-hydrates the body without providing to much shock to the system. In theory.”

“In practice?”

“Seems to work. Besides,” she said, the lilt of a tease in her tone, “I thought you liked warm milk.”

“My mother used to give it to me,” Grissom countered. “I never said I liked it.”

She gave him a wry shake of the head. “Could have fooled me with all the times you tried to foist the stuff on me.”

Grissom took a small, skeptical sip of the beverage. Then another.

“Not bad?” she asked. He nodded and was content to sit there and enjoy the drink as he watched Sara resume her puttering about the tent. He did however give her an inquisitive tilt of the head when she placed an extra blanket at the end of what had always been his side of the bed.

“It can get a little chilly after dark,” she supplied matter-of-factly and then with a great deal more fondness, “You tend to get cold.”

Grissom’s mouth half-twitched into what might have turned into a smile, but conflicting emotions kept it from sticking or ever quite reaching his eyes. The warmth in knowing that she had remembered was at odds with the regret he was feeling over all the time they had lost and could never have back because of his own foolish stupidity.

“My mother was right,” he began softly. “When it came to you, I always was a

moron and a coward and a fool.

Sara took a seat beside him. “I’ve never thought so,” she said.

“Never?” He both sounded and looked incredulous.

“Well,” she shrugged, “perhaps once or twice.”

Grissom couldn’t begin to express how sorry he was. But Heather had been right, too. Apologies were just words and all the I’m sorrys he could ever say could not undo what he had and had not done.

Sara seemed to sense his regret. She gave his hand a slight squeeze as she told him, “But you’re here now.”

Yes, there was that, he had to agree.

She nudged his pack with a toe. “You — uh — packed light,” she observed warily. “Not planning on staying very long?”

“Hardly,” he replied and in that knowing way she knew and loved so well said. “Sometimes it’s good for the soul to possess nothing more than what you can carry on your back.”

At the oh really? look she was giving him, Grissom added, “That and Dr. Velazquez suggested I have my things sent from the airport instead of attempting to lug them here on my own.”

They shared a smile at that.

Finally, Sara seemed to find the words for the question she had been wanting to ask all along: “How long can you stay?”

But Grissom could also hear the other questions, the ones that remained as yet unspoken: When do you have to be back? When do you have to leave to return to Vegas?

“As long as you’ll have me,” he replied simply.

To which Sara gave an almost nervous laugh. “Even you don’t have that much vacation time banked.”

“I didn’t take vacation time to come.”

It was her turn to suddenly look apprehensive “You took another leave of absence?”

“No.”

Sara’s eyes went wide in realization.

“You… You didn’t.”

He nodded.

“You…”

“Left CSI?” he finished. “Yes.”

“For good?”

He gave her another nod. “I handed in my resignation a little over two weeks ago.”

“But…” Sara said, seemingly unable to come up with any other, let alone any more profound response.

Grissom slid his fingers between hers.

“But your work — your life –” she continued to stammer in disbelief.

“They aren’t always the same thing. And sometimes they shouldn’t be.”

“But your work has always meant everything –”

“Not anymore. Not anymore,” he insisted. “There are more important things. Much more important things. You. Us.”

“But your life,” she protested.

“Recently a friend reminded me not so gently, that my job wasn’t my life. It was part of it, yes, but not my whole life. And it was time that I stopped trying to hide behind my work so I didn’t have to actually live my life.”

“But the lab — the team –”

“I’m not that irreplaceable, Sara,” Grissom maintained. “They will no doubt do just fine without me.”

She mouthed wordlessly for a few moments, unable to wrap her mind around the fact that Grissom could be so calm and collected about it all.

After a while, she said, “You know… you know that wasn’t what I was asking…”

He gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.

“I know.”

“I – I just wanted to get you away for a little while. Before…”

“I know,” he said again. “Honey, I had to come,” he whispered. “I had to. I wasn’t ready to say good-bye.”

Sara’s lips twitched slightly in recognition of the reference, but the smile turned to something else when he said, “And I finally figured out what to do about it.”

She waited for him to continue, to explain, but instead he pulled her towards him and kissed her — gently, lovingly, longingly.

While Sara thought that it would probably surprise a great many of the people whom they knew that Gil Grissom was, or at least could be, a passionate man, it was always the tenderness that tempered that passion that left her awestruck and breathless.

Just as it did now.

“I couldn’t do it without you,” he murmured, caressing her cheek. “And I don’t want to.” He nudged her chin until her eyes met his again. For a while, he just looked at her. Then after a deep breath, he said, “Sara, you taught me that the hardest thing anyone can ever do is to love another person.”

She nodded at the truth of this.

“These past months, this past year,” he continued, brushing a stray strand of hair from her face. “I’ve learned that the second hardest thing is having to learn to live without that person.”

“So I made a decision. Finally,” he said with a sad sort of smile. “Honey, I didn’t come to bring you back. I came to be with you. Here. San Francisco. Wherever.  Where doesn’t matter. Not to me. Not anymore.”

“Gil –” she began, but he kissed her quiet again.

“Sara, I need you.”

She gaped at him open mouthed.

I need you. In some ways, those three words were more meaningful than all the I love yous in the world.

Sara closed her eyes, tried to breathe.

She knew that this time Grissom was the one who was offering her — and them — a second chance at a life together. She knew, too, that it was an opportunity tendered freely, without hesitation, reservation or expectation. All she had to do was take it.

So she did.

Continued in On the Meaning Behind Mementos .

*******

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