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 10 - Down to the wire
The next day found Sara sprawled on the break room couch in the Bergen County lab, staring at a printout of Grissom's e-mail. She'd been in this position for almost an hour and was no closer to really understanding what it was that Grissom had said. He thought she should take the job; he was sorry that he had been so rude to her; he had a mysterious "medical problem." All of these things she could interpret, but the last three paragraphs had thrown her for a loop.
He had feelings for her... but he still wanted her to take the job here? Either the man was insane or he was trying to manipulate her and she'd be damned if she could figure out which it was.
She was shaken out of her frustrated thoughts when a quiet voice coming from the doorway asked, "Sara?"
Looking up, she saw that it was Sophie Harrison, the most junior of the CSIs she might soon be supervising. Sophie was twenty-two and fresh out of college, but like the rest of the lab, she was nearly bouncing off the walls with excitement at the prospect of improving the lab. "Hi Sophie, I didn't see you there. Do you need something?"
"Well, not really. I just wanted to... uh, can I talk to you? I have a couple of questions."
It was probably good that she was being interrupted from the e-mail, Sara thought. It wasn't like she was getting anything accomplished by just staring at it. She folded the papers in her hand and tucked them into her bag, then smiled. "Sure, take a seat. What's on your mind?"
Sophie nervously pushed her hair out of her eyes. "I guess I'm just curious. Because, you know, Walt's the only one of us who really knows you so far. So I was just hoping I could pick your brain a little."
Sara furrowed her brows. Walter didn't know her. Then again, Sophie was right in that he knew her better than anyone else in the building at the moment. She just hoped this questioning wouldn't get too personal. "Um, okay. Pick my brain about what?"
"About your experience and things. You know, your CSI experience." She offered a small smile. "I kinda got elected to talk to you about it. The other guys didn't have the balls."
"Doesn't surprise me," Sara said with a grin. "Guys usually don't. So you all want to know my history? I'm going to need questions that are more specific than that, though - I'm no good at talking about myself."
Sophie consulted a list that seemed to have magically appeared in her hand. "Ok, well... where'd you go to school? And what's your degree and/or specialty?"
She hated this question. When people found out that she'd gone to an ivy league, they always seemed to look at her differently - either like she was a snob or like they weren't worthy to walk on the same dirt she did. Her newest strategy was to avoid identifying Harvard at all. "I went to college not too far from New Jersey. Further north, though - up in New England. I majored in physics, but I don't get much chance to use that anymore. I guess you could say my 'specialty' lately is materials analysis. Trace and stuff."
Sophie was nodding and taking notes like she was in a lecture hall and not a break room. Sara sighed. "Uh, Sophie. There isn't going to be a test on this later, I promise."
"Oh, I know. But I've got to report back to everyone with this stuff, so it's easier to write it down than try to remember it."
Wonderful. The answers she gave during this "twenty questions" interview were going to be publicized around the place. "Well you can tell them that they didn't have to send someone to interrogate me; they would have found out stuff like as they worked with me." The other woman looked crestfallen, though, and Sara relented. "Ok, you can keep going. Now that it's on the record that I'm not keen on being quizzed like this, next question?"
"What level CSI are you and how many years of experience do you have? And if you know your solve rate, they want that too."
This wasn't going to work, she realized. She was completely incapable of not being pissed that five men had sent this little girl to get a complete personal history of their potential new boss. "Enough. Sorry, Sophie, but I'm not doing this. I'll tell you what: if they ask you, you tell them that if I take this job, I'll let them ask their own questions during the first week. After that, they'll know all they need to know, and I won't be answering any more questions like these."
"I figured," Sophie said with not a hint of disappointment in her voice. "I didn't want to do this, seriously, but I kind of got steamrolled into it. You're not mad, are you?"
"Not right now. But if they keep pushing you around I will be. You do realize that just because they have seniority doesn't mean that they can order you around, right?"
Sophie grimaced, then shook her head. "Yeah, I know. But I didn't want to get on their bad sides." She stood up and smiled again. "I'll leave you alone now. Sorry again."
"Not a problem. Talk to you later," Sara called after the CSIs retreating back. Then, to herself, "Sheesh. Poor kid."
Had she ever been like that? So eager to please her coworkers, so earnest? She must have been, at some point; god knew she was still eager to please people she looked up to. Like him. But even that was beginning to fade out of her personality ever since he'd started jerking her around.
Sara felt a burning urge to take these people under her wing. To show them how to do things right, and to make sure that, unlike her, they ended up with both lives and jobs. So... did that mean she wanted this job? Had she made her decision?
No! Too soon. No rush. All the time in the world. And that time was going to be used in another attempt to decode Gil Grissom and his stranger-than-fiction e-mail, she decided as she retrieved the papers she'd stowed when Sophie came into the room.
But I just want to repeat this: I think you should take the better job where you are now. I wish fervently that you could come back to Las Vegas and be happy, but I suspect that that's impossible, at least at this point.
What the hell did he mean by that? He wanted her to take the job because he didn't think she could be happy in Las Vegas? Because he was there? Because once she got back he'd morph right back into Asshole!Grissom? She would never understand this man, and it was beginning to get pretty damn frustrating. Why couldn't he just spit everything out without the fancy words and complex sentences and the euphemisms?
Then again, this e-mail had been unbelievably honest compared to his other communications. So was the truth really that he wanted her to stay in New Jersey?
After a few seconds, another thought came to her: did it matter? Did she really, honestly want to make her decision based on what Grissom thought she should do? She'd resolved when she'd come out here that the decision was going to be hers and no one else's for a very good reason, and she couldn't allow herself to buckle now. Grissom's opinion was helpful, perhaps, but it would not be the deciding factor. For that matter, neither would Greg's, Nick's, Warrick's, or Catherine's.
Making a decision alone was more difficult than she'd ever imagined. She spent much of the evening pacing the house, occasionally opening the refrigerator or a cabinet, surveying the contents, then closing it, unsatisfied. Jeff tried to waylay her a few times, but she fobbed him off with a weak excuse about pondering how she was going to upgrade her laptop.
When she got tired of pacing, she would sit on the nearest soft object and stare at the wall, trying to categorize the pros and cons of each of her choices. Eventually, she'd lose track of the mental lists and jump up to start pacing again. This went on for nearly five hours, lasting until she finally gave up and grabbed a shot glass and a bottle of Jack Daniels and settled down in her room to drink the worries away.
What ended up happening, though, was very different from what her goal was when she took that first shot. After three drinks, her mind began to clear rather than become more muddled than it already was. Later, she decided that the alcohol had slowed her frantic thoughts down to a pace at which she could actually consider them, but right then all she knew was that she needed to e-mail the team.
At 10:22 P.M., she sat down and wrote this:
From: Sara <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tuesday, August 5th, 2003 10:42 P.M.
To: Catscratch@aol.com, Brownw@lasvegas.cl.com, email@example.com, StokeDaTexan@hotmail.com
Subject: My Plans
Well, I guess you know why I'm e-mailing you all like this. I've made a decision about whether to go or stay, and I wanted to let you all know at the same time. If you guys want to ask me more about everything after you read this, that's fine, just send it to me and take out the addresses up top.
So . . . I've been doing some major thinking, as I bet you could've guessed. I know Grissom told you all about the job offer I got, and that I might not be coming back to Las Vegas, and I know from the e-mails you guys sent me that you all have a different opinion on the topic. So before I tell you what my decision actually is, I just want to tell you all that I read everything you had to say and thought about it, but that ultimately the decision was mine. I'm not staying here because of what anyone said or didn't say, and I-
...Oops. Guess I just gave away the decision. Yeah, I'm going to stay here in New Jersey - for the time being. Now before everyone starts screaming (in voice or in text), let me give you the details. Like Grissom told you guys, I was offered a supervisory position with the Bergen County crime lab in Hackensack, New Jersey. The pay is slightly higher, not that that matters, and the big thing is that I'm being given pretty much free rein to do things as I see fit throughout the lab. I've decided to take the job on a semi-permanent basis - that is, I'm under contract for six months, at the end of which both the lab director and I will evaluate how things are going and make our final decisions.
Does that make sense? I'm staying here, but I'm not ready to say that I'll never come back to CSI in Vegas. Grissom, I don't expect you to keep the job open or anything like that - go ahead and find a good replacement for me. A GOOD one, mind you. I don't want to see your standing slip just because I'm gone! And guys, be nice to whoever it is. I have a girl here who was just hired a few months ago, and the older CSIs are bullying her like nobody's business. I want none of that on your end, kiddies, or I just might have to come up there and beat on you.
Okay so that's pretty much the news of the day. I'm going to start apartment-hunting right now, too, since I can't live with my brother forever, so if anyone knows anyone who's got a good apartment for rent within half an hour of Hackensack... yeah, didn't think so. And for that matter... how the hell do I get my car from Nevada to New Jersey?
Well, I'll be keeping in touch and I might even visit, and I want you guys to keep me updated on how things are going on your end. So, uh... bye.
To her surprise, she felt immeasurably better after firing this e-mail off into cyberspace. She took another drink for good measure, steeling herself, then sat back to compose another e-mail, this one for Grissom's eyes only.
From: Sara <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tuesday, August 5th, 2003 11:08 P.M.
Subject: And now for the whole truth...
Hey... I guess I should warn you before I start that I'm kinda drunk. Jack Daniels and I spent the whole night trying to make The Decision, so go easy on me if I'm not exactly coherent.
Ok well, I guess you read my other e-mail by now - the one I sent to the whole group? - and you know that I decided to stay here in New Jersey for the time being. I hope you aren't stunned by this or anything, since that's what you told me to do in the first place. But really, it doesn't matter if you are or not. I decided that there were too many other people's opinions vying for my attention, so instead I shut all of you guys out and made my OWN decision. Remember I told you the first week that that was what I wanted to do?
I can't really tell you exact reasons, and I guess you probably don't care much about them anyway, but I did want to talk to you (well, e-mail you) privately to talk about your last e-mail to me. Not that I have a damn clue what to say about it, but it feels like it needs to be talked about. So since I'm not feeling too deeply intelligent right now anyway, I'll just do this piece-by-piece.
First: You apologized for treating me so "abruptly." Well, I guess you're forgiven, though I still don't really understand how you just suddenly came to this conclusion after shooting me down for the umpteenth time. But probably I won't ever understand that, anyway, since you are who you are. But you know, you didn't have to tell me that you occasionally experience those spasms known as "emotions" - I've seen you at crime scenes involving children.
And when you tried to undo the damage... Grissom, hasn't anyone ever told you that women prefer *talking* over eating? Come on, did you really expect me to be like, "Oh look, it's Grissom with not a word of apology, come to my door to feed me, and making jokes about dates! How wonderful, why don't I let him in and forgive everything"? I mean, I know you were trying and everything, and I give you credit for that, but you have a LOT to learn about the female psyche.
Okay, and now this mysterious "medical problem." I can understand your reluctance to tell people, and the fact that you started hiding because of it, but can I just ask: do you still not trust me? The rest of your e-mail was so honest, why wouldn't you just tell me what's wrong with you?
Not to sound completely bitchy or anything, you know, but Jesus Christ, do you think I won't care? Or are you reserving that information for the next time you screw up? Or is it that I just "don't need to be told"? Yeah, I can see you coming up with that one. "I'm sorry Miss Sidle, this medical information is being distributed on a need-to-know basis." That's bullshit.
Ok ok wait. I'm sorry about that paragraph, I didn't mean to get mad at you. But it did burn me that you wouldn't talk about it, honestly. But that's not important right not, 'cause I have to talk about your third "reason," which I don't understand in the slightest.
So you have "un-mentor-like feelings" for me. Which, in plan English, would mean you're attracted (god I hate that word. Does "have a crush" sound better, or "like"?) to me, I guess.
I'm glad you brought it out into the open, seriously. I know how much guts it must have required for you - YOU, who hardly reacts when the whole world blows up around you - to actually share something that close to you. And that's cool. I appreciate it. But what does it mean? Because you say that, and then right away you go back into, "I think you should take the job, you can't be happy here," and all that stuff. So which is it? You want me back there, or you want me to stay here? Or do you just want me back mentally, as long as I'm far away from you?
See, that's where I'm stuck. I don't think you mean anything bad by putting the two statements together, but I'm fucked if I know what you DO mean by it. So maybe if you find yourself some more time for full disclosure, how about you try to explain to me what you meant?
Um. Okay, I'm getting cross-eyed. I think it's time to cut myself off from the booze and the writing. Oh, but one more thing. Could you do me a favor and make sure everyone at the lab knows that this isn't their fault or anything like that? Ok, thanks... I'll talk to you later.
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