14 – In Moderation

Yet another difficult case causes Grissom and Sara to pause and consider just how truly imperfect and dangerous love can really be, and ultimately what that means for them and their relationship.

 

Post episode 612, “Daddy’s Little Girl,” circa January 2006

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“You’ve been rather quiet,” Sara hazarded to begin as she finished up the last of the lunch dishes.

Grissom really had been lately, and not just that particular afternoon. Ever since the murder of Ahren Green and the assault on Bianca Desmond the week before, he had been quiet, distant even, which after the events of the month before struck her as strange.

It was almost as if he had been actively avoiding her, and yet couldn’t all the same. He had begged off stopping by her place until today, citing Ecklie as the source of all the extra hours he suddenly seemed to be putting in, and while Ecklie was a bureaucratic pain in the ass on a fairly regular basis, Sara didn’t quite buy the excuse, not this time.

Then when he had come, he had barely said more than two words to her or even touched his food and while she had chased him out of the kitchen fifteen minutes before under the pretense that there had been so few dishes to do that she could easily handle them on her own, and he appeared to be occupied with finishing the previous day’s crossword puzzle, his pen had stood perched over the newsprint without moving for almost five minutes.

Something was obviously bothering him, but Sara knew that getting Grissom to open up and talk about it was metaphorically akin to pulling teeth, worse actually. She also knew she had to at least try.

After she had returned the last of the clean and dry plates to the cupboard, she poured hot water into a pair of mugs and added the tea bags, looking up to ask him as she did so, “You okay?”

“Hmm,” he hummed absently, not bothering to look up.

Sara drummed her fingers on the countertop in impatience. As indirect questions didn’t seem to be getting her anywhere, she decided to go for a more direct approach.  “Gris, is something bothering you?”

“No, why?” he asked in turn, still not raising his gaze from the paper.

“For one, you’ve been puzzling over fifteen across for the last five minutes,” she replied. “I believe the word you’re looking for is obstinate.”

Grissom’s brow furrowed as if he was seriously considering her response, before he realized it had been a joke. From the tight lines around his eyes and mouth, it was one he obviously didn’t find amusing.

She set one of the mugs in front of him and whispered, “Gil,” soothingly.

That finally caught his attention. He placed his pen down next to his cup and began to slowly pull off his reading glasses.

“Did you mean it?” he began, still not looking at her.

It was Sara’s turn to appear confused, but as his eyes were still fixed on the counter, there was no way for Grissom to know that.

“What you said back at the lab,” he continued uneasily, and began to fidget with his spectacles. “Did you mean it?”

Sara mentally reviewed the investigations they had worked on together over the past week in hopes of figuring out what he might be referring to, only to realize that since the Green/Desmond case, they hadn’t worked together at all. When she tried to recall what in that particular case might have precipitated Grissom’s current line of inquiry and still came up blank, she said, “I don’t understand.”

“That some people just shouldn’t be together?” he supplied.

Sara covered her mouth with her hand and just stood there for a moment. She had forgotten. Forgotten about how she had been tired and irritated and frustrated with the case. How she had let her fatigue and frustration come to a head as they stood there in the layout room reviewing Bianca’s phone records with Warrick. How one of Grissom’s science-based metaphors had rather uncharacteristically annoyed, rather than amused her, so that her own next words had come out harsh and almost accusatory.

The truth was though none of that made her reply any less true. She stood there with her eyes closed, attempting to formulate a proper answer. Ultimately, she settled on telling the truth; Grissom deserved the truth. So, she simply said, “Yes.”

At this, he did meet her eyes and Sara was surprised to see all the hurt and disquiet stirring there.

She tried to give him a reassuring smile. “I mean don’t you ever wonder?” she asked. “Think of all the things we have seen done in the name of love. The killing, the assaults, the abuse.” Then her voice became sad and more personal and her next words more pleading, “Look at my parents. Look what happened to them.

“So yes, Grissom, there are some people who shouldn’t be together.”

While his eyes seemed to soften a little at this, his next question, the one it struck her as being the one he really had been wanting to ask for a while now, seemed to catch in his throat. “And us?” he said.

The naked anxiety that colored that query rendered Sara absolutely stupefied. She took a sip of her own tea to give her a moment to think before she eventually stammered, “Gil, you…” and then, “You know, I love you. I do,” she said and moved to caress his cheek, but was pained to find that as she did so, Grissom got to his feet to retreat beyond her reach. She let her hand fall back to the counter and sighed, “Honestly, there was a long time where I didn’t think we were meant to be together. Everything was always so difficult, so complicated between us.

“But it never really was about shouldn’t bes, was it?” she asked. “Just can’ts and couldn’ts.”

It was Grissom’s turn to nod, his face and eyes grave now, instead of reproachful, but before he could make a reply, she asked, her eyes and face the ones imploring now, “Don’t you ever feel overwhelmed by it all? Aren’t you ever scared that it won’t last? That one day we will end up consumed by it and then left with nothing?”

To which all Grissom could do was intone, “These violent delights have violent ends/And in their triumph die, like fire and powder/Which as they kiss consume.”

“And we are back to thermite again,” Sara sighed and left her place at the counter in order to collapse onto the sofa. “You know,” she continued after a moment, “Whoever said it was better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all, obviously never lost, or loved.”

“Tennyson,” Grissom offered vaguely.

“What?” she asked.

“It was Tennyson who said that,” he replied and joined her on the couch.

“Maybe that explains why I was never overly fond of Tennyson,” she muttered.

The ghost of a grin flitted over Grissom’s face. “Sara,” he began, but then stopped, as if he still didn’t know quite what to say. She understood this though, this not knowing. So that when he rested a hand on her knee, she didn’t push it away, but rather covered it with her own and began to rub her thumb over his knuckles instead.

They sat there quiet and still for a while before Sara leaned her head against his shoulder and said, “So what do we do then?”

“How do you feel about Shakespeare?” he asked.

“Much better than Tennyson,” she promptly replied.

“Then perhaps we should follow the friar’s advice,” Grissom suggested. When she didn’t appear to catch the reference, he added, “Therefore love moderately; long love doth so.”

Sara smiled. “Sounds good in theory,” she agreed. “But how do you do that precisely?”

His lips twitched slightly. “I have no idea,” he admitted.

“You?” she sounded incredulous.

“Contrary to popular opinion,” he replied, shaking his head as he did so, “I don’t know everything.”

“Really?” she queried, but the brief lilt of amusement in her voice faded back into seriousness. “Are we okay?”

He nodded. “And, Sara, yes,” he replied. “I do wonder and get overwhelmed and am afraid sometimes. But –”

“But?”

This is also true: My bounty is as boundless as the sea/ My love as deep; the more I give to thee/The more I have, for both are infinite.”

“So much for moderation,” she teased.

 

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