by Laura Katharine
Archive: FF.net and here. Anywhere else ask first, I might say yes.
Disclaimer: I used to be a huge television producer/writer out in Hollywood. Made millions, but I quit so I could get in touch with the average American. Turned down the offer to work on CSI, so alas, I do not own these characters. Here's hoping you can recognize sarcasm. <G>
Summary: What if they just started over?
Sara lounged on the break room sofa before shift began, feet up, intently reading a booklet that hid her face.
"What's that?" Warrick asked, coming in and immediately pouring himself some coffee.
"Oh, nothing. I'm thinking of taking a cooking class," she replied, not looking up to notice that Nick had entered the room as well.
"I don't think they can teach you how to stop burning toast, Sara," he teased, causing Warrick to chuckle and Sara to glare.
"What'd I miss?" Catherine asked, slipping into the room just before Grissom.
"Sara's taking a cooking class," Nick explained to the last ones to arrive.
Grissom reached for a coffee cup and picked up the pot, listening to the group and liking the relaxed feeling he sensed. The slow week made everyone a little more talkative.
"I said I was thinking of taking a class," Sara corrected, slightly embarrassed. She flipped the course schedule closed and sat up.
"Where?" Grissom asked, turning to face them all.
"Through SNCC. It's just a one day thing," she babbled, knowing her face was probably pink. Why was everyone staring at her?
"I think it's a great idea," he said, leaning casually against the counter. "You guys should all have interests outside of work."
"Really?" Catherine asked sarcastically.
"When's the last time you took a class not related to your job?" she pressed, slinking into one of the chairs at the table.
His mouth quirked a little, before he spat out, "I don't know."
"Hmm. The resident bachelor..." Warrick began, "Could probably use a few cooking tips."
Catherine snorted as Grissom countered seriously, "I don't need a cooking class."
"Why not Gris?" Nick asked, continuing the banter. "How cute would that be? You and Sara wearing little matching aprons-arguing over who gets to measure out the ingredients."
"Shut up, Nick," Sara warned, but it was useless. They were all laughing now.
It surprised Grissom how comfortable they all seemed with he and Sara being close friends. He wondered if they assumed it was more.
"When is it?" he asked tauntingly, cocking his head as he looked at Sara.
"Next Thursday afternoon-Grissom, you are not taking this class with me!"
"Why not? I can sign up if I want to."
Catherine watched them tease each other, pleased in particular with Grissom's good-natured behavior. He seemed so much happier these days-so much more relaxed around everyone at work. She and Warrick exchanged a meaningful glance, and she could tell he was thinking similar thoughts.
Sara swatted Nick with the schedule booklet. "Thanks a lot, bonehead."
While they all laughed again, he leaned in and mouthed knowingly, "You're welcome."
"All right. Let's get to work here," Grissom said, instantly hushing the group. "Catherine, where are you on that vandalism case from last week?"
Catherine started talking, but Sara wasn't listening at all. She found herself just watching Grissom with a familiar flutter in her stomach.
"Welcome to 30 Minute Summer Gourmet Meals..."
The instructor introduced herself and explained what everyone would be doing for the next three hours. Then she gave some informative demonstrations and showed the class some tips on how to save time on meal preparation. Sara listened intently and watched everything with genuine curiosity.
The first hour ended, and after a short break, the instructor said, "Okay, the list of meal choices is at each station. There's so many of you, you'll have to pair up in groups of two to do the cooking." Sara felt a giggle brewing inside her. Cooking with Grissom. This was silly. She cleared her throat and followed him to their kitchen station.
"Let's see, I guess the Turkey Scaloppini is out, huh?" he said, reading the selections.
"I don't care, but you're touching the meat," she replied, only half kidding.
"How about Cheese Tortellini with Garden Vegetables?" he suggested.
Sara smiled and nodded, still feeling silly. "Perfect."
He went to collect their ingredients, and Sara tried to get a hold of herself. This was a perfectly normal way to spend an afternoon! He returned a few minutes later and heard her chuckling quietly.
"What's so funny?"
"Nothing." Her expression told a different story. He narrowed his eyes at her, and Sara almost crumbled under his scrutiny.
"All right, what are we doing here? Chopping?" she said, composing herself and taking out a zucchini.
"Slicing, yes. I'll do the peppers," he offered. It was strange, how fluidly they worked-in such a different venue.
"You forgot the butter, Gil."
Surveying the various items, he said, "Oh, yeah. I'll get it in a second."
"Put those over there, would you?" She pointed to a clear spot on the counter. Grissom dutifully set his sliced peppers where she recommended. They finished the vegetables in a matter of minutes.
"Let's jazz this up a bit," he said, glancing across the room at the other ingredients.
"What do you mean?"
"It needs mushrooms." Cocking his head in thought, he added, "And some basil."
Sara frowned. "Why can't we just follow the recipe?"
"Because, that's boring. They have other things up there for a reason, Sara. Let's just wing it."
He started to walk off, but she grabbed his arm and said, "But you have to know what you're doing to just wing it. If I knew what I was doing, I wouldn't need a cooking class. I'm following the recipe." She looked unyielding, so Grissom changed tactics.
"C'mon Sara, we play by the rules all day." Moving closer and surprising her, he whispered in her ear, "Let's be bad."
Sara shivered, fighting the tinge of arousal swelling inside her. "I think you have deeply buried authority issues," she deadpanned, pinning him with an intense gaze.
"No, I think you do," he argued, eyebrow raised flirtatiously. "You're getting a little too much enjoyment out of this-- telling me what to do here." His voice went up in a ridiculous mimic. "Put that there, Gil. You forgot the butter, Gil."
Sara's laughter caught the attention of the instructor, and she glared at them from across the room, clearly taking her job way too seriously.
Sara gave a hushed warning. "You're going to get us kicked out of here."
Intrigued, Grissom countered, "Ya think?"
"Oh, stop it. You said you wanted to do this with me." When she glanced at him, she was surprised to see him watching her attentively, almost... admiringly.
"Right. Right. Then c'mon," he cajoled, "Let's make our own baby here."
He was already headed off to gather his new ingredients. "You know what I mean."
She knew exactly what he meant, but it didn't stop overtly sexual thoughts from entering her mind. When he returned, she vowed to pull herself together and finish cooking the meal, toning down the flirtation. The result was a perfectly pleasant afternoon-and some really awesome tortellini.
Sara looked up in surprise when Grissom entered her 419. "What are you doing here?"
"Nice to see you too," he replied curtly.
"I'm sorry," she said, smiling sheepishly. "I thought you were going to Laughlin today."
"I was, but when Brass called, I turned around. Where's the other victim?"
"In the bedroom-Nick's in there. You know, we can handle this, if you want to... go look at your house," she said quietly, checking to make sure Nick wasn't within earshot. She knew Grissom had planned to meet with the lawyer and see the house his father left him.
"It's all right. It's not going anywhere. I can go next week."
"Not if you turn around every time there's a crime scene."
Grissom was already examining the door, gloves on, flashlight in hand. "No sign of forced entry, huh? Both victims with gunshot wounds?"
She watched him and just shook her head, deciding not to press the issue. They were at work, after all. "No, and yes. David should be here any minute to pronounce. Victims are the homeowners, Susan and Walter Friedrickson, sixty-four and sixty-eight, respectively."
Grissom gave her a thankful nod, conveying his appreciation of her dropping the matter. He wasn't totally keen on going to look at the home he inherited from his father, and he was even less keen on explaining his hesitation to Sara. Work just sounded... like a better option. Work, he could do.
And he did.
It was three days later when Nick showed him the suspect's phone records. "The guy says he was across town on his cell phone trying to call his parents-coincidentally around the time they were murdered. There were nine calls from his phone to the house between 3:30pm and 4:13pm."
"And he thinks that's an alibi?" Sara asked.
"Apparently," Nick replied.
"Dial M For Murder in the 21st Century," Grissom added dryly.
"No kidding," Nick laughed.
"Well, I've never seen it," Sara admitted, "But he's not going to get away with it. His prints are on the doorknobs leading in and out-"
"So what? It's his parent's house," Nick argued. "Of course his prints are going to be in it."
"Then let's go back and keep looking. I mean, come on, the guy's out over $60,000 in gambling debts, the neighbors said his parents refused to help him out, and he's the only beneficiary to both the life insurance policies?" She was already gathering her things. "There's got to be more there."
"I can't believe you've never seen Dial M For Murder," Nick said on the way out of the room. "It's the 'perfect-crime-run-amuck' movie. Grace Kelley in her glory."
Sara just stared at him.
With a wistful nod, Grissom said, "He's right," causing Nick to grin rather smugly.
"You didn't finish this last chapter." Sara was sitting at Grissom's kitchen table, looking up in puzzlement.
"I know. I told you it still needed some research and additional work."
"Well give it to me when you're done," she said, pushing the papers aside.
"I will. I didn't ask you over here just for that." He reached across his kitchen counter and picked up a video. "You want to watch this?"
She smiled upon seeing the 'Dial M For Murder' video cover. Wow. Watching a movie with him. It seemed almost like a... date.
Taking a beer from his refrigerator, Grissom hesitated a moment before offering her one. When she accepted, he got an odd look on his face, but handed it to her. It made her wonder.
Swallowing the first sip, she took a deep breath and said, "Gil, are you spending all this time with me... because you feel guilty? About my DUI?"
"You didn't get a DUI," he countered immediately. Then a few seconds later he asked cautiously, "Should I feel guilty?"
"No. It was my choice to handle my stress the way I did." For an awkward moment they didn't look at each other. "By the way, I know you won't ask, so I'll tell you that this is the first beer I've had since that night. I've had exactly two glasses of wine-on separate occasions--"
"You don't have to explain yourself to me."
Sara sighed, irritated that they were even talking about this. She felt ashamed, though she had done nothing wrong.
"Well, I do feel a little guilty," he said suddenly, causing her to look up and meet his gaze. "Not because of your behavior, but because of mine. I... wasn't treating you very nicely... before... and that was wrong. But, to answer your question, no, that's not why I'm spending more time with you."
She blinked and nodded nervously. "Oh."
"I like you." Plain and simple. That was Grissom.
"That works too," she smiled.
He took her hand and pulled her into the living room, still holding it after they settled onto his couch. It felt nice, but scary for some reason. Sara felt her mouth go dry as her heart rate sped up. "Is... um... being my supervisor stopping you from... uh..." Wow. This was hard. She felt very nervous and very... exposed.
"I won't always be your supervisor," he soothed, lost in her eyes for a moment. His thumb skimmed over the back of her hand, and her own fingers tightened around his.
"You are now."
"That's amendable." He considered kissing her, weighing whether this was the right time.
The panicked crinkle of her eyebrows indicated it was not. "Are you going somewhere?" she asked worriedly.
He shrugged, looking down at their hands. "No. But I have options."
Sara sounded so very serious. "Like?"
"We don't have to talk about this," he assured, getting up to start the movie. He wasn't entirely comfortable discussing this with her. He was too worried she'd try to stop him from stepping down as shift supervisor.
When he returned to the spot beside her, she said timidly, "I want to talk about this. Is that a problem?"
With a faint sigh he said, "I've been thinking about stepping down for a long time."
"For a lot of reasons."
She started to feel nauseated. "Is one of them me?"
"You're not the only reason, Sara." He risked a glance at her, sensing her anxiety.
"I'm not entirely comfortable with you making a life altering decision based on something that... isn't even taking place and... may or may not ever take place." She didn't understand any of this. Were they even dating? Frustrated, she shook her head and grumbled. "Am I making any sense?"
He could not hide his amusement, and his tender smile made her want him even more. "It's not your decision to make. It's mine." Turning serious, he added, "There aren't many choices in my life that I've regretted. But when it came to you, to... being with you... that was the only time I regretted not making a decision."
Sara just sat there, wide eyed. What did this all mean?
"I don't want you to think about this," he said, patting her knee.
"Because it's really not that important." He picked up the remote control and reclined back more comfortably, pressing play. "This is more important." She just watched him in befuddlement as the movie began.
Her incredibly wide yawn would have been enough of a clue, but Sara still muttered, "I'm tired."
The movie had ended twenty minutes earlier, and then they started watching a documentary about the Asian Monsoon on cable. "I won't take it personally if you fall asleep, you know," he said, gently nudging her thigh with his bare foot. They lay at opposite ends of the couch, legs intertwined intimately-every little movement causing delightfully sweet sensations.
Extricating herself carefully, she sat up and yawned again. "I should go." Gil didn't move. She turned and looked at his side of the couch almost longingly. "This couch is comfortable."
"You don't have to go. It's up to you." He wondered if she knew it was all up to her-whatever she wanted from him.
She watched the show for a few more minutes, making no move to get up off the couch. Then she felt him stretch out his legs and scoot against the back of the couch. He tugged on her arm, pulling her down.
His voice was soft and soothing. She was so tired, yet at the same time excited by his move. Giving in and snuggling her back against him, she had to resist the urge to press even closer and purr. His arm draped loosely over her side, and he held her hand.
"It'll make me feel better if you fall asleep here. I'm not sure I believe that you ever really sleep. Consider it my own experiment."
"I've seen your experiments-I'm outta here," she joked, pretending to get up. He gripped her tighter and laughed in her ear. She sighed contentedly and watched TV for a while. When Grissom made no other advances, Sara fell asleep in a matter of minutes.
For a long time he just stared at her, occasionally glancing at the television, but always returning to her face-relaxed and beautiful in slumber. Her breathing was so slow and rhythmic, lulling him into a peaceful state. Feeling emboldened by her proximity and condition, he kissed her cheek.
Sighing against her hair, he knew things were so much different than before. He didn't just want her.
He was falling in love with her.
Author's Note: Thanks for reviewing! I think this will be the last PG-13 chapter. Surely I've tortured you enough with the lack of RST. ;)
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