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Disclaimer: I do not own these characters.
Summary: It's about time I wrote a "G & S go to a conference" fic, right?
Chapter Four - Silence is gummi
Looks like I'm not the only one who doesn't want to talk about what happened while we were waiting in line. Sara's been completely quiet ever since then, barely looking at me. I think I embarrassed her. No, I know I embarrassed her. But I can deal with embarrassment - I'm just hoping I didn't scare her or disgust her.
I turn my head to the side, just enough so that I can see her out of the corner of my eye. Given the fact that we're scrunched in economy class, it's not all that difficult. I could probably keep an eye on her without moving my head at all, but I'm not that uptight yet.
She's staring straight ahead, ostensibly at the dangling TV monitor on which a pretty stewardess is telling us how to escape should the plane disintegrate around us, and chewing a piece of gum that I assume is supposed to keep her ears from popping.
The stewardess smiles at us one last time and assures us that she and the airline are ecstatic to the point of incontinence about us flying with them. I roll my eyes - does anyone really watch these things? I've been on so many planes in my life that I could probably give instructions to the flight attendants, rather than vice versa, and just the sound of, "Your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device should it be necessary..." makes me drowsy.
I catch myself just on the point of unconsciousness and jerk my head up, then steal a glance at Sara to see if she noticed.
She didn't, it seems. In fact, she's still staring at the same spot she has been for the past ten minutes, even though the monitor has retracted into the ceiling and there's nothing left to study.
I think she's just trying to avoid looking at me - and usually I'd be perfectly happy with that. Today, though, other forces are at work. I'm still working on the acting-like-a-friend thing, which would be a whole lot easier if she'd look at or speak to me... and I know that we're eventually going to have to discuss the... thing.
I've never been so thankful to be sitting next to someone who makes me uncomfortable rather than a complete stranger. Usually I opt for the stranger and hope that they catch my leave-me-alone vibes, but as I survey the area around our pair of seats, I decide that having a stranger between us would only make things infinitely worse.
This way, no one else has to witness the dressing-down I'm sure I'm about to receive.
The pilot comes on the PA system to inform us that we've reached our cruising altitude and flight attendants will be coming through the aisles to serve drinks. I momentarily consider shelling out the five dollars for an alcohol fix, but I know that that's probably not the best of choices given my current situation
Sara's still staring off into space.
I'm getting jumpy now. I'll give her another minute to snap out of it, and then I'm saying something. I wait, fighting the urge to tap my foot, and watch her, hardly trying to hide my scrutiny. She doesn't notice, which adds to my surety that something bad is going on in her head.
She doesn't react immediately and I stare at the side of her head, wondering what I'm supposed to do now. "Sara?" I try again, this time with a little tap on her shoulder.
Her head snaps around and she gives me an irritated look. "What?"
I look around us once more, to make sure no one's paying excessive attention, and then reply, "I think we should probably, uh... talk about the..." I can't think of a word for it, so I kind of nod my head and hope she gets the hint.
She blinks at me, trying to figure out what I just said, and then her eyes dart to the side. I know that look - that's her I-don't-wanna-deal-with-it-and-I'm-NOT-gonna-deal-with-it look. The same one she gives me when she's standing in my doorway and I can't think of anything to say, just before she leaves me there.
"I don't think that's necessary, Gris," she says, not even trying to pretend she doesn't know what I mean. I think that's a step in the right direction... I think.
I shake my head and say firmly, "We do. I need to explain my motive for doing that. So you don't feel like I, uh, assaulted you." God, why did I bring this up? Why couldn't I leave well enough alone?
She sighs. "You didn't 'assault' me. I'm completely aware of that. You were trying to help me get rid of the guy with the scary eyebrows. Thank you for your help, and you don't have to worry that I'll sue you. Now," she says, injecting a falsely bright note into her voice, "can we drop it?"
"Listen," I try again, "It has to be done, whether we find it comfortable or not."
She seems to be saying that word to me a lot lately.
"Yes," I insist. "I'm trying to make sure you're not traumatized or anything, Sara, and frankly, this act isn't making me any more confident of that." I'm treading in territory that's dangerous for both of us, but I see no way to avoid it.
I wouldn't have thought it possible, but her face takes on an even harder look. "I'm not traumatized. I'm not too sure I can say the same for you, but I'm not." She looks at me and she must see something in my face, because she softens her voice and adds, "Really, Grissom - I'm not. I promise. Could you please just..." Her mouth works for a second and she seems to be trying to think of a good way to tell me to bugger off. "Just... leave it?" she finishes, eyes pleading with me.
I'm not at all sure that she's telling the truth, but I know from years of experience that pushing her any further on the topic will only get me the silent treatment - if I'm lucky. I nod in agreement. "Okay." I know I'm doing what's best for me by shutting up, not what's best for her, but I just can't make myself pursue it and start an argument when we've had peace all day.
I turn my attention away from her and am just reaching under the seat for my carry-on bag when she touches my hand. I jerk my head up so quickly that I can almost feel my brain rebounding of the front wall of my skull, and look at her.
She smiles tentatively. "I'm fine," she repeats, then awkwardly pats my arm in a friendly gesture. "It's nice of you to be concerned."
Now suddenly I'm "nice"? Who's running hot and cold now, Miss Sidle? I mumble a response to her. I'm not too sure what I'm saying, so I'm sure she doesn't understand it either, but she seems to accept it. As soon as she looks away, I duck back down for my book of crossword puzzles, hoping to bury myself in it and forget the presence next to me.
"Grissom?" she says about an hour later.
"Hmm?" I don't look up from my crossword - I've been stuck on this clue for the past fifteen minutes, and it's on the tip of my tongue. If I let her distract me now, I'll never catch it.
"Well, first of all..." She snatches the book out of my hands and I look up at her, then back down at my now-empty hands. She wiggles the book at me, then points to 13 down, the clue that's driving me crazy. "The answer is 'anaphor'. Second of all..." She pauses, letting me absorb what she just said.
I look at the book, silently counting spaces, then return my gaze to her. I'm impressed - she's right. " 'What's John when it's him and me?'" I read off the page. "An anaphor. Of course."
She smiles triumphantly. "And that, Grissom, is why I don't need to be going to a conference to learn more fancy grammar words."
"How'd you know that?" I'm still trying to process the fact that she just showed me up on my own puzzle.
"Because I'm a genius," she says, rolling her eyes. "But that's not the point."
"What is the point?" I'm almost afraid to ask.
"I was going to ask you if you brought any snacks."
I automatically reach for my bag, then stop mid-bend. "You just ate at the airport." She's hungry again? Already? Maybe she's hypoglycemic - that would explain a lot of her mood swings...
"Not for me." She grins and I look at her suspiciously. "For you," she explains. "Your stomach is growling. You were concentrating too hard to notice."
I was? It is? I pause, trying to verify her statement. Sure enough, my stomach emits a loud rumble after a few seconds. "Oops," I mumble. "I, uh... no, I didn't bring anything. But I can wait," I add. "Doesn't really matter."
She snorts. "I put up with enough of your moodiness that I'm not going to sit by when I can fix it this time."
Did she just read my mind again? She really needs to stop doing that.
A handful of some sort of... gummy thing... lands in my lap. I look at the candies, mentally assessing the ingredients.
"They don't bite, Grissom," Sara says, and promptly picks one up from my lap and pops it into her mouth.
Red alert. Dirty thoughts on the horizon. She seems very comfortable around my lap...
She clears her throat and I raise my eyes from where they were lingering on her hand. "Oh," I manage, clearing my throat. "Uh, thanks. What are they?"
She picks up another one and dangles it in front of me. "Gummi worms. Geez, how can you not recognize these?"
I shrug. "I'm not much of a candy eater."
"Open up." She moves toward me and I instinctively shift back in my seat. "Grissom!" The worm makes another appearance. "Just eat the damn thing. I can't concentrate when your stomach's talking constantly."
I reluctantly take it from her, giving it one more suspicious look before I pop it in my mouth. It's surprisingly good and I chew for moment before asking, "Concentrate on what?"
"What are you trying to concentrate on?" I swallow, then nod toward her empty hands. "No book or anything."
She smiles sheepishly. "I'm thinking."
I want to ask her what about, but I decide to allow her to tell me or not tell me on her own. "Could I have a few more of those gummi... worms?" I ask instead.
She hands me the bag, then sighs. "The whole thinking thing wasn't going too well, anyway. I think I'm going to try to take a nap. Don't get offended if I drool, ok?"
The image of her asleep and drooling is, rather oddly I suppose, more endearing to me than it is unpleasant. "I'll just stick your arm under your head if you do."
She smiles tiredly. "You do that," she says, then slouches down in her seat and tries to find a comfortable position. Within minutes, I hear her breathing even out. She slouches down another inch and her body starts to lean toward me.
I can see where this is going.
She ends up against my shoulder - not drooling, at least - and I freeze. I don't want to wake her up, especially at a time like this - when she's touching me, and she looks so... not angry.
So I sit and watch her. My legs start to cramp after a while and I alternate stretching them out in front of me, which isn't very helpful given the distinct lack of legroom in front of me. At least it relieves some of the pressure in my legs - just in time for my arm to fall asleep where Sara's laying on it. There's not really anywhere I can stretch that particular appendage without disturbing her, so I try flexing and relaxing the muscles in it. Again, not much use, but it helps some.
By the time my neck starts to hurt, I've resigned myself to staying awake so I can keep her comfortable.
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