Spoilers: Post Butterflied - 4x12
Archive: Please ask first!
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, merely borrowing them for a moment. I am making no money off this creation. These characters are owned by CBS and Anthony E. Zuiker.
Author's Note: My thoughts on how the show will end. It's not pretty. I'm not optimistic at this time. This is a very pessimistic piece. Be forewarned. It is also my way of venting my frustrations. And... Thank you to Ghibli for beta'ing for me. She lets me know when I stray from reality. :)
Summary: Decisions are made.
© Anansay January 16, 2004
It'd been seven days.
Seven days since he'd spilled his heart out on the table of interrogation room #3 in front of a suspect and the investigating officer, his good friend.
Seven days since he'd seen Sara's retreating back round the corner and disappear from sight, her heels clicking briskly on the tile floor.
Seven days since his body had shook with the expulsion of it.
Seven days of continuous wondering just where Sara had come from and why she had been in such a hurry?
Seven days of tense monosyllabic conversation, eyes barely meeting in the rush to crime scenes and the lull of deciphering evidence.
Seven days of emotional chaos whose end seemed nowhere in sight.
There was something different about her. Nothing overt, but there all the same.
It was the way she'd looked at him as he held her hands pinned to the sheet, with her head held high, chin jutting outward and her eyes half closed as she stared at him directly, never wavering, just looking away, here and there. But never wavering. It was a strong stand, a determined one.
And one which made him recoil in uncertainty.
He'd watched as she pulled in on herself and pushed him away, only to turn around and speak to him with that distance between them.
Whatever happened, or didn't happen
His heart sank in his chest when he realized what she was doing. Erecting her own walls. That stoic look of determination wasn't new, not really. It was that tiny spark of a flame that signaled the onset of a wall of fire meant to keep the hurt and disappointment away. Keep him away.
In the beginning it was so easy. A few flirty lines, some looks, touches here and there. It was so easy, and she played along so well.
But then something changed. He didn't know where or when or how, but suddenly the flirting didn't seem so innocent anymore. Suddenly flirting with her meant that she might actually see.
It was always so easy to just lose himself in the job, in the work. To concentrate on the cases and the evidence and the processing. It was a safe place to be, a safe place to go to, to keep the thoughts clean and productive. Because to think of other things was unproductive and only led to stagnation of movement and agony of feeling. Right?
He liked that she played the game, that she kept to the professional side of their relationship. It made it so much easier to follow the rules and not deviate. But a game such as they were playing was fraught with danger. Danger being the innocent slip into personal mode: a hand on the lower back, a brush against the other, a look that would last longer than it ought to. It was all so dangerous, so carelessly easy to just fall into the moment, to ride the wave until it crested over them, leaving them panting and gasping for air, wondering what had just happened and where they were and... how to get back to being simply professional.
Because her simply being there was a lure too hard to resist most times, he kept her at a distance, pushed her away and dug himself a deeper hole, the better to keep himself safe and away from those more insidiously alluring yearnings.
He kept to the same MO. He did the same things. He was... predictable. It wasn't something he chose to do, not consciously. It was actually like a fungus, something that started small and tiny, miniscule almost, and then slowly, on the dark side of everything where no light shone it would begin to grow and infest that upon which it grew. His shell was now more intact and breakage free, he could mosey on down where ever he felt and nothing could deter him from his objective.
Not even Sara as she lounged in relaxed fashion against the counter, eyes closed, savouring the coffee in her hands. One sniff and Grissom knew Greg was feeling particularly generous that day. He strolled into the breakroom and headed straight for the coffee. If there was one thing Grissom certainly appreciated in the zany lab tech was his unfailing expertise in coffee. Just the right combination of pungent, bittersweet potency that he so loved in his coffee. Not like the bone-rattling rush that some brands gave, Greg's was a more mellow creep-up-on-you-slowly charge. Perfect for handling delicate evidence without the fidgety shaking of hands.
Sara's eyes sprung open as he stood beside her and grabbed a cup. He offered a look, just a small one along with a nod to let her know he knew she was there. She moved over and watched him prepare his nightly jaunt into intellectual overload.
He knew she watched him. He'd sometimes caught her eye just as she turned away, and something in him would swell. That male part of him that glorified whenever a member of the opposite gender found him desirable. But this was Sara, and the thin line they - he - were treading was becoming precariously wobbly and vague.
His hands moved automatically but he could still feel them trembling, feel the blood rushing through his veins in a mad dash to feed his muddled brain, his heart pumping wildly as he stood next to her, unable not to smell her.
She stayed next to the counter and he found this odd. Usually she would nod herself and then scurry away as quickly as she could, as though she couldn't handle being in the same room as him.
When he spoke to her now - during a case, at a scene - she would always look at him coldly, listening to his words and only his words, never hearing the meaning. They had reverted to their old repartee but it lacked that necessary element that had made it fun. Now it was all business. All the time. And something in him crumbled a bit more.
That void opened up again, that aching black hole in his soul that tended to suck in whatever joy he could find in his life. It'd suck in his own soul if it could, keep him from having it, keep him from enjoying life as he was meant to enjoy it.
And now it was sucking her life force, drawing it to him as it pushed her away. He could see the draining in her being, how her eyes had begun to sink into her skull, how her hair hung limp around her pale face, how her smile seemed to come fewer and fewer times. Her hands shook now as she reached into her back pocket and pulled out that ripped package of throat lozenges she'd taken to carrying around with her. Anything to try and stem the flow from her being.
As her mouth pursed around the lozenge, her eyes would close against the sudden onslaught of acrid fumes and she'd be lost for a moment, lost in a place where her body would tingle once again, and her breath would be sucked away for a moment. And then her eyes would open and it would begin anew as she glanced his way and then just as swiftly look away again.
She was disappearing before his very eyes, becoming a ghost of a person, the one person who'd ignited in his soul that desire to go far beyond the normal bounds of human endeavours. Every time he looked at her, his heart would jerk in response, wanting nothing more than to go to her and meld like it was supposed to do, like its very reason for being demanded that it must. But his body wouldn't move, he wouldn't go to her. There was no tangible reason, not really. He didn't want her to disappear, to vanish in the harsh demands of his heart, of his soul. As he would surely crush her beneath him in an effort to find that elusive happiness that everyone else seemed to find so effortlessly.
He knew she was strong, that her will would bend to no one's and she'd stand in the face of a raging storm if it meant getting to where she wanted to go. It was her indomitable spirit that kept him away, that kept him from seeking her out and offering himself.
It was a myriad things actually, all rolled into one.
An absolute fear of what would happen if he allowed himself the luxury of traveling down an unknown road to an unknown destination with a woman that would surely light his soul afire with a mere glance. He never wanted to think too hard as to what her body would do to his should they touch more than a mere hand on her back, liked he'd allowed himself to do on few occasions. It was enough to instigate a mind meltdown each and every time he laid his head down on his pillow and closed his eyes. Visions of her would come crashing to the forefront, every single thought he'd had during the day about her, every single lewd idea he had pushed to the back of his mind came at him with a vengeance and he was powerless to stop it, his body requiring the sleep while his mind lay tormented with images that his body could never hope to enjoy to its fullest.
In frustration his hand would drift toward the manifestation of his near insanity and movement would happen, both on him and in him as things began moving and chugging along. It was a madness born out of desire and fed by numerous glimpses of forbidden territory every time she moved, squatted down, ran her hands along her thighs, through her hair, across her face. Every time she pursed her lips in thought, leaned on one hip, looked up at the sky. Everything she touched became a part of his body, every word uttered from her lips became the whispers that haunted him in the dark hours in his bedroom, his body wracked with near climax, skin glistening with sweat, tiny groans echoing in the near empty room, gasps and moans as he finally found a modicum of release, only to be haunted by guilt when he saw her next.
For surely she could see it in his eyes, the longing to have something more fulfilling than his own hand around his member. Surely she could feel the throbbing in his being when he stood next to her. Surely she could hear the desperation in his voice every time he spoke to her, the hushed frustration as he said her name, the word rolling off his tongue before he could stop himself. He couldn't remember another word that he'd said more often than her name. Not even his bugs' names. Surely she could see the yearning in his eyes, the darkening as his soul opened up to her and showed her the yawning abyss that always threatened to engulf both of them if he would let it.
So he stopped standing next to her and stayed as far away as he could. He stopped talking to her unless absolutely necessary. He stopped looking at her, never allowing her to have but the barest of glimpses of his eyes, too terrified she would see right to the bottom of his being.
Her presence encompassed everything he tried to keep hidden, tried to keep dark and dead.
It was sheer torture on a nightly basis.
It wasn't like she hadn't thought of it before. The idea had been gathering momentum for a while, growing exponentially some days and tapering off to miniscule whispers in the back of her mind on others. But now it was here, in full glowing gowns just waiting to be acknowledged and set to work.
The phone waited patiently on its cradle, the battery feeding on the juices. She stared at it and the paper in her hands shook imperceptibly.
The last few days had told her in no uncertain terms that her time in Las Vegas had come to an end. There was nothing here anymore. It had dissolved with the utterance of a few choice words, expressed in the assumed privacy of an interrogation room.
The beer on the coffee table lost another few ounces to the desperate need to quell the burning pain in her chest. A deadening needed to happen. An absolute suppression of everything that had come to mean the world to her. The back burner was lonesome, the company of her feelings would fill it up quite well.
The bottle landed hard and rattled the other three. She didn't care. Her eyes closed as a wave of stupor crashed over her. She fought to stay balanced and focused. The number needed dialing and arrangements made. But her hand wouldn't move, the phone remained cradled in its sleek black plastic nest.
Finally Sara allowed her head to fall back and rest on the couch. Thinking was becoming tiresome, contemplating all that needed to be done. It was too much.
The hand with the paper dropped to her side as her head rolled and her breathing slowly became shallow and level. And the idea slunk back into its little corner in the back of her mind.
Seminars... conferences... teaching... writing... editing... mentoring... all within the same field. Bugs. Insects. Hard-shelled beings with no forethought except for that which resided within their genes and enhanced over a million years of evolution to a base instinct mindlessly followed.
And now cases. Puzzles. Crimes and evidence. Each one different and yet each one bearing many similarities so that after a while they merged into sets of readily identifiable compartments. There were your rape cases, your murder cases, theft, burglary, break and enter. Sub-categories included dismemberment, decapitation, disembowlment, disappearances. Names mingled with one another, faces became indistinct. After a while it all became just one big fuzzy picture of pieces overlapping each other. Everything loses its novelty after a while. Everything becomes ordinary after so long being immersed in it. Everything soon becomes just like everything else: common place and inconsequential.
It was time to move on. That's what Grissom told himself as he sat at his desk and surveyed his surroundings. Bottles of formaldehyde preserving life in stasis for onlookers' pleasure and science's curiosity. Work had become tiresome and no longer held the thrill it once did. He stared off into space, his eyes unfocused, hands laying limply on his lap as his mind churned a thousand questions and even more wonderments.
Pain had been inflicted and the wounds would take long to heal, especially when the scabs were torn off on a regular basis. His own hands were tied but that didn't keep the knife from slashing yet again through tender souls.
There was a time, so long ago when ideas for the future had seemed bright and promising. The usual had occurred in his mind's eye. But reality had a way of dealing raw hands to unsuspecting people. There had been so much to do, so much to accomplish in so little time. He'd thrown himself headlong into the fray and became immersed in the games and longings of those like himself. Wanting things and needing others to the degree that the others were left in the wings, patiently waiting their turn for fulfillment. After a time, the curtains dropped and they were still left waiting, unfulfilled.
And along came a variable tossed into the equation that wrenched the gears out of socket. For two years Grissom had functioned off kilter from his normal full-on mode. For two years he had entertained the idea that those longings might actually be allowed to come to the forefront and receive admission into his life. And time and time again they were battered and bruised and reduced to archaic phrases uttered in moments of reduced awareness.
And the knife slashes continued.
He had hurt her in so many ways. He knew this. He felt it just as keenly as he believed she did. It didn't escape his attention, her waning self. It only served to bring home the idea that being around her was driving the knife deeper and deeper into tender tissues, keeping them raw and open. His inactions the salt on the wounds.
Grissom grabbed his phone and punched in numbers. A brief conversation ensued as he informed the listener of his intentions and received confirmation of the possibility of making them reality. It was happening. Quietly and with an assuredness that caused his hand to tremble and grasp the phone tightly to his head. He couldn't break, not now. It needed to be done.
The hairs stiffened and pulled the skin taut. A hand came up and rubbed the neck as the body stiffened, the head raised and eyes peered around.
She knew it was him. It couldn't be anyone else. No one else could make her body react in just that fashion without her conscious knowledge.
Grissom stood in the doorway, his eyes glued to her bent form before she straightened it and met his gaze with a cold one of her own.
He blinked and his eyes cleared before he swallowed and entered the room, each footstep taken slowly and with much effort as he came to stand on the opposite side of the table.
"Do you have anything?" he asked in a voice softer than she'd ever heard before.
She peered at him through squinted eyes before she pointed to a pile. In her own soft voice she explained the pile and its meaning to the case. She kept her eyes downcast, focusing on the words and keeping her hands firmly on the table. No need for him to see the shaking.
When she finally looked up it was to grey-blue eyes focused directly on her with an intensity that made her heart skip a beat. She allowed herself the single moment, transfixing it to her mind for future recollection.
It was a portal that she saw, a doorway to visions and feelings she'd only dreamt of, hidden away in the shadowy depths of this man's pained existence. She'd seen it only once before, this clearly. Three days previously, in the form of words. Muttered and disjointed, words of such inflection, she was left speechless on her side of the window, invisible to him.
Grissom pulled back and stood up, portal closed, shutters drawn, darkness everlasting. The number flashed in Sara's mind once again, that quiet whisper making itself known, a reminder of what she needed to do. Just to survive.
"That's good," he said. Words came with such difficulty between them now. Sara struggled to find some dim thread of memory to hold on to, some path to what they'd shared so long ago. It fluttered in the air between them, and then flew away, disappearing in the vacuum.
He left the room and left her alone. Sara stared at the doorway. It loomed huge and open and quite empty.
The day Grissom left there was no cake in the breakroom. It remained commonly empty. The halls reverberated with the usual sounds of machines whirring and voices cracking evidentiary codes. The room at the end of the hallway, the one whose door had always been open was now closed.
For the first time since arriving in Las Vegas, Sara knocked on Grissom's office door. When no voice telling her to come in came, she tried the handle. It was unlocked. With trepidation in her body, she turned the handle and pushed the door open slowly, expecting a sharp voice demanding what she was doing. None came.
The door opened all the way with no sound from anywhere.
And then Sara stopped.
Her heart landed somewhere near her feet and her lungs expelled a long silent breath and wouldn't fill up again.
The desk was cleared. A single lamp adorned it. No pencils, no papers, no nothing. Shelves upon shelves were empty, dust-free circles the only clue that jars had quite recently rested on them. Squares of lightened colour on the wall showed where the many plaques and framed diplomas had rested since before she arrived.
Her feet wouldn't move. Her eyes wouldn't close. She couldn't look away. It was all so much to take in. Her eyes continuously roamed the room, looking for something, anything, that would tell the story of his sudden departure.
And the paper in her hand fluttered to the floor, forgotten in her shock.
Finally she did move, turned around and found herself at Greg's lab. The young man looked up and his jaw dropped just before he leapt from the chair and came at her, catching her in his arms as her body finally gave in.
Greg tumbled to the floor with Sara in his arms just as Catherine rounded the corner. "What the-?" She dropped to the floor beside them.
Sara lay in Greg's arms, eyes staring blankly ahead. "Gone."
Greg glanced at Catherine. "What?"
"Who?" Catherine asked.
Leaving Greg with Sara, Catherine ran to Grissom's office and just like Sara stood stock still in the doorway, surveying the abandoned ruins of his office. She looked down and retrieved the paper. And her eyes began to water.
Sara sat on the breakroom couch, unmoving. Greg sat with her. Nick and Warrick had joined them and took up seats of their own.
Catherine sat down beside Sara. "Sara, what is this?"
Sara glanced over at the paper. "My resignation."
Sara said nothing. Only stared ahead, lost in her own world.
"What's going on?" Greg demanded.
"I have no idea."
"You quit?" Warrick asked.
Nick leaned forward. "Sar?"
"It was time," she said in a meek voice.
"Wha-what do you mean? Time?"
Sara looked up at Nick as a single tear fell down her cheek. "I should have known, Nick. I should have known. It could never happen. He would never had done it. His work was his life. I was... I was nothing. Just another CSI to him."
"Oh god..." Catherine moaned. "Oh Sara." She leaned forward to wrap her arms awkwardly around Sara's body. It was like hugging Jell-O. No response. "No, no you don't understand-"
Sara pulled away. "Yes, I do understand. I heard it, Catherine. I heard it straight from his lips."
"What?!" Nick said.
Sara turned to Nick. "He couldn't do it. He chose not to do it. He said no. I thought... I thought maybe in time but... I realized he'd never be able or willing. And I couldn't stay here knowing that. I just couldn't. But he beat me to it. He left before I could. Bastard."
"Whoa, whoa. Grissom left??" Warrick asked.
"His office's empty," Catherine said.
"I have no idea."
"He left this morning."
Everyone turned to see who had spoken. Carvallo stood in the doorway, a folded paper in his hand.
"He handed in his resignation a week ago. I accepted it. He asked that none of you know about it. I respected his wishes. I didn't want him to go but he insisted that he needed to leave."
Silence followed his words.
Warrick was the first to break the silence. "He was right. There's no cake."
"What are you talking about?" Nick asked.
"Gris once told me that when he leaves, there'll be no cake in the breakroom. He'd just be gone. Like that. Damn bastard was right."
"Catherine," Carvallo spoke, "as second in command Grissom asked that you take over as shift supervisor. You know politics."
"I... I don't know."
"Job's yours. All you have to do is sign this." He came into the room and unfolded the piece of paper on the table and laid a pen on it.
Catherine didn't move. All eyes, except Sara's, were on Catherine as they waited for her decision.
Sara stood up then. "I quit. I'm leaving."
Carvallo moved to stand in front of her. "What do you mean?"
Catherine held out the paper. "She was on her way to deliver this to Grissom when she found his empty office."
Sara took the paper and handed it to him. "I quit. As of now." She walked around the man and headed for the doorway.
"Sara, wait!" Nick called out.
She stopped, one hand on the doorframe and then turned around. "Nick, I'm leaving. I can't stay here anymore. I need to move on."
"Please. It's been too long as it is. I have to go now. Goodbye." She left and headed in the direction of the cloakroom.
Carvallo, Catherine, Greg, Nick and Warrick remained in the breakroom.
"Well?" Carvallo asked, looking at Catherine.
She looked from the doorway to the faces of her co-workers before she sighed, got up and signed the paper.
- The End -