Rating: PG-13 for strong language
Archive: www.grissomandsara.com. Anyone else, ask permission and I'll probably say yes.
Disclaimer: These characters and their situation is not mine. Las Vegas isn't mine, either. Or New Jersey, though I do live there...
Summary: G/S - Sara's leaving, but not the way you think...
Chapter 7 - Between a rock and a hard place
"So as you can see," the young man said with a wave of his hand toward the machine in front of them, "we have pretty modern facilities here, along with a large technical staff to support our investigators." The canned spiel belied the skeptical look on his face as he showed her a mass spectrograph that must have been nearly 10 years old.
Sara nodded agreeably, but her mind was refuting everything her tour guide had to say. Modern facilities? That thing looks like it belongs in a high school lab!
"Yes, very impressive," she said out loud, not wanting to alienate the nice man who had taken time out of his schedule to help her out. "So, what's your solve rate?" she asked gamely. It couldn't possibly be as good as the solve rate back home. This is just some rinky-dink county lab in New Jersey, and although the people are friendly, they just aren't on the level Nick , Warrick, Grissom, and Catherine and I work on.
The young man, who had introduced himself as Walter Lopez, grinned. "It's been going up every year since our new director came on staff... hmm, that was 5 years ago. I've only been here since 2000," he added with a cutely sheepish look. "Our rate for last year was 88%."
Sara made appropriate noises of awe. Despite her growing disappointment in the lab's facilities, she really didn't think she'd ever met a nicer group of people, and she couldn't keep the smile from her face. The team at home's nice too, Sara, if you don't shut them out. She determinedly cut off the voice in her head. Las Vegas wasn't home anymore, she reminded herself, and she had to keep an open mind.
"So," Walter continued as he lead her back toward "his" lab, where they'd started their tour, "do you have any other questions? Want to look at anything else?" He leaned against the doorjamb, crossing one leg over the other, and raised his eyebrows encouragingly.
"Well," Sara replied pensively, "I don't want to sound too probing, but what's the lab's budget like? How much freedom do you guys have to acquire equipment or services that you need?"
The eyebrows went down slightly as Walter thought for a few moments. "Well, I don't know the actual numbers for the budget - I'm too far down the totem pole to be told stuff like that - but I do know that our purchasing power hasn't been curtailed lately. It's just that I'm the newest CSI on staff, and the old schoolers don't have a whole lot of desire to be on the cutting edge," he explained, glancing around at the out-of-date furniture and wallpaper.
"But you can get what you need?"
"Yeah!" he said, relieved that she wasn't ridiculing his lack of knowledge. "Yeah, we've got enough money for what we need. Bergen's one of the most prosperous counties in Jersey, you know."
Sara smiled. "No, actually I didn't know that, but it's a good bit of information to have. I'll file that away. So you think that if I were to take the position here, the administration would allow me a relatively large degree of freedom to get what I think the lab needs?"
Walter's face brightened considerably. "You know, I think if you agreed to be shift supervisor here, the entire lab would bow down before you. Our old supervisor - the one who's leaving - well, he's a nice guy, but very into tradition. I, and a couple of the other newer people, have been dying to get this whole place brought into the modern age."
Sara sighed. The Bergen County Crime Lab was the best she'd seen so far. The staff seemed honestly enthusiastic, and aware that they weren't being allowed to work up to their full potential, and along with the fact that Walter thought she'd be allowed a measure of free rein, it added up to a major plus in the lab's bid for her.
Bid for her, she thought wryly. Weird-sounding, but sort of true. Word had gotten around that a CSI III out of Las Vegas was job-hunting in the area, and this lab had actively pursued her.
A cough drew her attention back to reality, and she realized that she'd been staring blankly at her companion for close to five minutes. "Oh, sorry Walter. I was just thinking."
"No problem, uh... CSI Sidle. Thinking comes in handy in this business, huh?" he offered with a twinkle in his eye.
"Right on," Sara smiled. "Well, thanks for the tour, and I'll e-mail you if I think of more questions." She palmed the business card he'd given her and slid it into her back pocket. Sticking out a hand to shake Walter's, she said a friendly goodbye and returned to her brother's car in the parking lot.
As the car door closed behind her, she sank into her seat with a troubled mind. She really liked this place - felt welcomed and accepted, even desired. She liked the area. She was even beginning to get used to the East Coast weather and enjoy the warm, but not too hot, summer they were having.
But then there was Vegas. Las Vegas had better labs and, arguably, better-educated staff. It housed nearly all of her friends. It housed Grissom. Was she really ready to take a drastic step and commit herself to high-level a job here?
Sara hating feeling paralyzed, and that was exactly what she was feeling right now. Caught in limbo between the temptation of a good job and a new atmosphere, and the still-strong pull of her Las Vegas roots, she was finding it easier to just keep touring labs than to make a decision. She hated being wishy-washy like this! And, of course, in addition to this stress, she was still trying to think of a response to Grissom's question about regaining her trust.
What to do? The mental battle was giving her a headache, and she hoisted the aspirin she dug out of her purse in a symbolic toast to Grissom before swallowing it and starting the car to drive back to Jeff's house.
Her headache was beginning to recede by the time she got onto the Garden State Parkway, which only made room for more thoughts to crowd themselves into her already-full head. "Fuckin' asshole," she mumbled as she was cut off by a Hummer that must have been doing 100 down the highway, then smiled. She was even starting to talk like New Jerseyan.
When she threw herself down on her bed fifteen minutes later, she was no closer to a decision, or even a strong opinion. She had been perfectly ok and comfortable with her decision to leave Las Vegas, until suddenly Grissom turned into Mr. Nice Guy, asking her to come back, what could he do for her... to be honest, it weirded her out more than it encouraged her.
A thought hit her and she rolled over to stare at the ceiling. Why bother wondering? She was here, thousands of miles away from Las Vegas; why not just . . . ask Grissom? He was expecting an e-mail from her, anyway, so why not just stick it in tonight's mail. Maybe associate it with the whole "trust" issue, and see what he said.
Yeeeeahhh... that was how she was going to do it. Grinning, Sara reached over her shoulder and patted herself on the back. "Smart, Sidle!"
From: Sara Sidle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Friday, August 1st, 2003 5:25 P.M.
To: Grissom <email@example.com>
Subject: Ya gotta have trust
Well, I've been thinking about your question, but I don't have an answer for you yet. I'll explain about that in a second, but first let me tell you about how things are going with me.
I've been offered a supervisory position for the Bergen County labs. The facilities are antiquated, but if I accept the offer I'll be given free rein to buy and teach what I think is needed. The people there are wonderful, so friendly. I got a tour from a nice guy named Walter, and I could tell that he knew it wasn't up to my Las Vegas standards. He kept apologizing in different ways, which was half-cute and half-annoying. He's real young, maybe three or four years younger than I am, and that's pretty much representative of the people working there; most of them are young and eager for some new leadership, and willing enough to accept someone from far away. But do I want to commit to them?
So that's the current issue running laps inside my head, and I've been struggling with whether or not to accept the offer all day. Gave me a huge headache, I'll tell you. I was starting to feel like I was you, with my head all wanting to break in half. It got a little better around the time I got home, though, and it suddenly occurred to me that part of the reason I was reluctant to make a decision is that things aren't cleared up between you and me.
Don't worry, I don't mean we need to resolve all our issues and live happily ever after. I just mean that I don't understand your motivations lately, and until I know what's making you want me to come back and trust you so badly, when just weeks ago I would have sworn you'd dance on my grave if you got the opportunity, I can't allow myself to make such a heavy decision.
So, Grissom... why are you suddenly being so nice? Ever since the night you showed up at my door with pizza, you've been trying to be my best friend. Not that I'm averse to the idea, you know - it's just a little too abrupt a turn-around for me to fully believe it.
And before you do it, don't even TRY "the lab needs you" or "I'm worried about you." You used both those already and you turned out to be lying... or slightly delusional... or something. Overdone, Grissom - if you're gonna go for a cliché, try one you haven't sampled before. Better yet, how about actually telling the truth? Something with more detail than four or five words provide?
Scary stuff, I know. "Feelings? What are those?" you say. Well, give 'em a try. Every now and then they can come in handy, or even be pleasant.
As she clicked "Send," she hoped that he would know that she had written the last part tongue-in-cheek. Or mostly tongue-in-cheek, at least. Ok, partly tongue-in-cheek. Well... there had been a little bit of tongue-in-cheekness in there. Sort of.
She had to smile at herself. If there was one thing Sara Sidle was good at, it was talking in earnest to Grissom, but making it sound like it was a joke. Maybe that was part of the problem... but no, when she'd dropped all pretense after the explosion, he'd been just as, uh, problematic as at any other time.
With a heavy sigh, she slouched in her chair and resumed staring at the ceiling. There were some interesting patterns up there if you looked for them. The whole stucco theme
(What do you think he's gonna say, Sara?)
was pretty cool, actually. So far she'd seen an elephant, a piece of driftwood, and
(You think he's actually gonna tell you the truth? Gonna just go, "Well, Sara, I kinda like you, now would you come home and marry me?"?)
Greg's face. The last one had been a little disconcerting, but then, it had been late at night. Maybe her brain hadn't been firing on all cylinders. Anyway, it was getting kinda late,
(Since when is 8:30 "late," Sara? You're just trying to change the subject)
so she probably should get to bed and try to do some more reading before she dropped off. She'd
(He's not gonna say anything worth reading, you know, just the same old bullshit. Why are you bothering to get excited? Give it up now.)
been falling behind on her reading ever since she started being productive here and actually leaving the house. The newest issue of...
(Oh, just give it up. You know he won't ever give a shit about you; why don't you just stop torturing yourself and take the damn job. Show him you have a life that doesn't include him.)
"Shut UP!" she screeched at the voice in her head. Lowering the volume, she sternly told the pessimistic voice that the it was wrong; she had to just wait and see what happened with Grissom and with the job offer.
"Sara?" Jeff's voice floated up the stairs from the landing near his bedroom. "Everything ok up there?"
"Fine, J!" she called back. "Everything's fine."
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