Archive: www.grissomandsara.com. Anyone else, ask permission and I'll probably say yes.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: It's about time I wrote a "G & S go to a conference" fic, right?
Chapter Two - Reflections in pastry
We get to the airport in plenty of time, partly due to my being early to pick her up, and I'm feeling rather clever as we wait in line to check our suitcases. Looking down at her bag, I say, "I'm impressed."
She looks at me curiously. "At what? My choice of luggage?"
Guess my opening line wasn't as good as I thought. Well, there goes the whole "cleverness" thing. "At your, uh, ability to pack only one suitcase. Most women would..."
I don't get a chance to finish my sentence. She gives me a Look and I immediately close my mouth. " 'Most women,' Grissom?" She shakes her head. "You're so predictable sometimes."
"Predictable?" I don't like the way that sounds. "How am I predictable?"
She starts to say something and then seems to think better of it. "Never mind."
"I want to know how I'm predictable," I insist.
"Well," she says waspishly, clearly finished discussing the subject, "you can just go ask someone else, then."
We're both silent for a few minutes, until the tension becomes unbearable for me. "So," I say tentatively, "do you want the window seat, or the aisle?"
She looks thoughtful. "Do you have a preference?"
I get the feeling that she has a smart response to that one, but she chooses not to use it. "I'm an aisle person. I need to be able to get in and out of my seat whenever I want to."
I nod. "Okay. We have one window seat and one aisle, so I'll take the window and you can have your aisle."
She offers a faint smile. "Thanks."
There's a minute of silence as we both try to think of something else to say, and it's just getting to be uncomfortable when an airline employee motions us to the next check-in counter. We show her our identification and receive our boarding passes.
She asks us if we have anything we need to check and we lift our bags onto the scale. "I need to declare my gun," Sara says matter-of-factly. "I'm licensed and it's unloaded." She shows the attendant her license, then opens the bag to display the weapon to her. After a few minutes, the woman slaps a bright red sticker on Sara's suitcase and pushes it onto the conveyor belt that will take it to our plane.
Both women turn to me. I suddenly feel silly, knowing that Sara brought her gun and I haven't. But then, she might not be aware of how strict New York City gun laws are. It's unlikely she'll be taking that gun anywhere except between her hotel room and mine.
But then, why would she be going between our rooms? I slip into a pleasant daydream as we make our way down the concourse to our gate. In it, Sara and I bond during the flight, and by the time we reach New York we're friends again. Then we get to the hotel and find that we have adjoining rooms, which makes Sara laugh, then raise her eyebrows at me...
My brain tries to take the dream farther, but I force myself out of the reverie. Worry about becoming friends first, I remind myself - then you can try to figure out the attraction thing. In the spirit of that thought, I look over and give her a friendly smile.
She gives me a weird look and I hope that my smile didn't look more crazy than friendly. "Have you eaten, Grissom?" she says, eyeing the coffee shops and restaurants that line the hall.
I blink. "Uh... no. Why do you ask?"
"Why does everything have to be an interrogation with you?" she shoots back, though her voice lacks any real heat. "When someone asks you a question, you're supposed to answer, not ask a question back."
I've been doing it like this for forty-six years, I want to tell her, and it's gotten me this far without incident. Of course, I don't actually say that. I'm tempted - very tempted - but the truce I'd just created in my mind would be broken if I did. I may not keep all my promises, but I'd like to keep my record clear of promises broken after less than five minutes.
"Grissom?" She nudges my arm with her elbow. "Just answer the question - this is not the time for reflection."
"Ok," I say. "Well, have you eaten?"
She growls something unintelligible at me and I realize that I just did it again. "Oops," I mutter. "No, Sara, I haven't eaten." I'm about to add would you like to go eat? but it hits me just in time that that's a question, too.
She gives me an expectant look. When I keep my mouth shut for a few more seconds, she shakes her head and snorts. "You're so... inept sometimes." My eyes narrow at the apparent insult and she quickly adds, "It's cute."
Cute? She thinks I'm cute because I'm an idiot when it comes to interpersonal relations? Hah, if only! "What's cute?" I'm suspicious of this conversation. Very suspicious.
She shrugs and I can tell she's trying to dismiss the issue. "Never mind."
This is too good an opportunity to let slip, so I take a step to the side, toward her, and she moves away. I repeat this action until we've reached the edge of the hallway, almost touching the wall, and then I purposely drop my carry-on bag in front of her.
She reflexively jumps back and then, recovering, glares at me. "What was that for?" She spoiling for a fight now - I know that tone.
Putting on my most charming smile, I pick up the offending baggage and move it out of her way, then lean against the wall. "I so rarely hear myself called 'cute'," I say casually, "that when I do hear it, I have to find out what it means."
She relaxes, realizing that I'm not starting trouble. "I just mean that sometimes you're so bad at handling people that it's funny. Funny to the point that I can tell that you have no intention of being rude - you're just that clueless."
"So you like it when I make a fool of myself," I summarize.
"Grissom," she says, "In all the years I've known you, you've never managed to make a real fool of yourself. I wish you would some day, just so I could be sure you're human. In the meantime, I have to settle for the little things like this."
I nod, though I still don't really understand her, and pick up my bag. "Thank you for answering me," I tell her.
We walk in silence for a few minutes before I realize that I never did answer her question satisfactorily. "I suppose I am getting hungry," I offer. "Would you like to get something to eat?"
She turns to me and grins. "I thought you'd never ask! I've got to fill up on something edible before we get stuck on that plane eating unidentifiable mush."
"I'm sure that between the two of us, we could identify it." I am, indeed, quite sure of this. I also know that she wasn't looking for an answer. See - this time I'm not clueless!
She sticks her tongue out at me, and I smile. "But, moving past that fact - what are you in the mood for?"
There's silence for a moment as she just looks at me. It dawns on me what I just said, and the inferences that could be drawn from it. Oops. "Er...What sort of food do you want," I rephrase carefully.
If this were anyone else, neither of us would have noticed the double entendre in my words. It's only when I'm dealing with Sara that I'm painfully aware of how things could be mistaken. I think it's the same for her - I've never her seen her react to anyone else's possibly-risqué comments the way she does to mine.
But then, I wasn't making a risqué comment. It's hard to remember that when she's looking at me like she can't decide whether to jump me or slap me. For the sake of both of us, I pray that she does neither while we're standing in the middle of the airport.
Once we're in New York, she can do anything she wants to me.
No. Wait. That's bad. Thoughts like that are not good. They're bad, in fact.
I shake my head, trying to clear out the increasingly unprofessional thoughts that are clamoring around in there.
"Hey." Sara's hand touches my arm lightly. "Earth to Grissom. Come in Grissom, we're about to land on Planet Feed Me Or Else."
The humor in her voice does what she probably intended it to do - that being distracting me from what I just said. Of course, her reason for wanting to distract me is probably a lot different than my reason for wanting to distract myself.
"Right," I say, half my mind still on the previous thoughts. "Lead on."
She raises her eyebrows. "I get to pick?"
I nod. "Yeah. Just pretend I have social skills and know how to treat a lady - it makes more sense then."
"You're nuts, you know that? I don't know why I'm not afraid of being within five feet of you," she grumbles, and within seconds she takes off walking again.
I follow along behind her, giving my brain free rein for the time it takes to get from here to whatever restaurant she leads me to. So... what was I thinking about her? Oh, right - how her reasons are different from mine.
Of course, if I knew what my reasons were, I'd be a lot farther ahead in the game than I am. I know she thinks I run hot and cold on a moment's notice, but in reality I don't... ok, well, I do. But I almost always have a reason.
Like realizing that I shouldn't encourage her.
Like seeing her with a man closer to her own age.
Like coming within an inch of touching her, and then having someone walk into the room.
There are a million reasons why I run cold, but there's really only one reason why I run hot: because when I drop my guard, I can't stop thinking about her.
I'm constantly reminding myself to keep the wall up, because if I forget, things tend to happen. Things like the night I told her, in my own way, how beautiful she is. I'm sure she got the message then. And when she got hurt in the lab exp...
"Grissom!" Her voice breaks into my thoughts. She sounds annoyed.
I force my attention back to reality and look around. We're standing in front of an Au Bon Pain - some sort of pastry shop, from what I can see. I give her a skeptical look. "We're eating here?"
She crosses her arms and gives me a look that verifies what I heard in her voice. Yep, she's annoyed. "If you had been paying attention to what I was saying, Gris, you'd know that I just asked you that."
"Huh?" It's not exactly erudite, but it's the most I can manage at the moment.
"You stopped first," she explains pointedly. "I asked you if that meant you wanted to eat here. You proceeded to ignore me."
Uh-oh. "I wasn't ignoring you."
"Do I look like I care?" She stares me in the eye, and sure enough, she doesn't look hurt, only impatient.
"Sorry." I can't go five minutes without doing something stupid in front of her, it seems. Maybe I should just accept it and try to play it up - and hope she thinks it's "cute," like she thought my last faux pas was. "I was thinking."
"Obviously not about what you want to eat," she says with a reluctant smile. The gods are being munificent today - it looks like she's forgiven me yet again.
"Sorry." It's all I can think of to say. "So, uh... lead on."
She sighs. "Do you want to just eat here? Since we're here anyway, and I'm hungry..."
I snap at the opportunity to change the subject. "Yes, here's fine." I look through the doorway, trying to see what I'm going to be eating.
"They have sandwiches." She's read my thoughts, as usual. "And pastries, and soup - it's your basic café sort of place."
"Oh." Good, we're not going to be eating at Brussel Sprouts 'R' Us or anything.
The thought may be uncharitable, but it's too funny for my already-stressed nerves and I start to snicker.
She looks at me, the words "are you insane?" written all over her face.
I try to swallow the laughter and end up choking on it. "Um," I manage between coughs, "just... something funny in my head."
"There's always something 'funny' going on inside your head," she says, rolling her eyes. "Now how about you and me and the funny voices in your head move it inside so I can get on line?"
She brushes past me, though not unkindly, before I get myself together, and I get a second to just look at her back side. No, no - not backside. Her back side. As opposed to her front side.
Ok, and her backside.
I give myself a little shake at that thought - bad Grissom! - and move into the restaurant, joining her in line. She's studying the posted menu intently and doesn't bother to look at me.
I'm doing my best to play Mr. Friendly today, and as far as I can tell, that means I should ask polite questions and start conversations. "So..." I say, leaning over her shoulder slightly, "what are you getting?"
She turns to look at me, catching me by surprise, and nearly smashes into my face with her own. Hmm, maybe I should take the whole "personal space" thing a little more seriously. I quickly move back, hoping to get away from this one without a lecture.
My luck holds, and she just gives me a sour look and returns her attention to the menu. I do the same, knowing that if I don't pick now, I'll end up at the front of the line, stuttering.
I have a genius-level IQ, for heaven's sake. What is it about this woman that reduces me to a blithering idiot? Whatever it is, she ought to bottle it. She could market it to angry wives and eager almost-girlfriends alike - it'd sell like mad.
I'm still concentrating - ok, mostly concentrating - on the menu when she turns to me, checking first to make sure I'm not hanging over her again. "What are you going to get?"
I glance back at the menu and say the first thing that comes to mind. "Lentil soup."
She gives me an assessing look. "I didn't know you liked lentils. I thought you were a 'meat and potatoes' sort of guy."
"Just goes to show," I say without thinking, "that you should eat with me more often."
Oh god, did I just say that?
Her eyes fly to my face, which I try to make as impassive as possible. She watches me for a few seconds, waiting for my front to crumble, but I manage to outlast her. "Um, okay," she says finally, sounding... not happy. I think I just did the leading-her-on thing again.
Well, hell. This is why I have to be so careful not to drop my guard around her, damn it!
"Yes," I say lamely, trying to fill the uncomfortable silence, "I like lentils. I don't eat them every day or anything, but I like them."
Her eyes narrow slightly and I can feel her studying me, trying to figure out what just happened. When she speaks again, her voice actually sounds a little cheery, and I wonder what's going on inside her head. "Well, you have good taste," she tells me, a tiny smile turning up the edges of her mouth. "That's what I'm getting too."
I smile back. "I won't bother voicing the cliché."
Her small smile widens into a larger one and she tries to give me a serious look over it. "Well, I know my mind is pretty great, but lately I'm not too sure about yours."
I widen my eyes in mock-hurt. Am I flirting with her? Or is she flirting with me? Or is this just how friends banter? It occurs to me that I really have no idea how to distinguish between the three. I've lost all perspective. Can't see the forest for the trees, and all that.
I'm too close to her, both mentally and physically. I can fix the physical part - I take a subtle step away from her - but the mental part is more difficult. "Mine got me where I am now," I say. "Make of that what you will."
Her eyes search my face and I can feel her wondering whether I mean my job or my current location with her.
If it's the former, I sound like I'm lording my position over her. If it's the latter, then we're back to talking about how I'm an idiot, not how great my mind is.
Too bad I don't know which I meant, either.
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