Rating: PG-13 for mild language.
Spoilers: Contains general spoilers for the end of season three.
Archive: Please ask first!
Disclaimer: All rights reserved for TPTB, A. Zuiker, Aliance Atlantis, CBS.
Author's Note: Okay, due to popular demand, I've added another chapter to give the story a better ending. Stop threatening to hold my cats hostage.
Thanks to: Burked and LSI for their help with dusting powder. Don't try this recipe at home; I made it up.
Summary: A bit of fluff, and bit of romance. A cautionary tale why Grissom should stick to "From Grissom" as his sentiment.
Chapter 2 - Creeping forward
Darting his eyes around uneasily, Greg steeled himself. His hands were shaking slightly. He took a deep breath, trying to calm his nerves. This was a dangerous step, but he had to do it. He tried not to think about what would happen to him if this backfired.
Leaning out the door of his lab he tried to see what was going on inside Grissom's office. No luck; Grissom had just walked over to close the office door. He looked over to Archie, shaking his head in defeat.
Archie took the lead, grabbing a printout and walking towards Bobby, who stood just inside the door of the ballistics room. By 'chance', they met in the hallway outside of Grissom's office and 'discussed' the report. The blinds on the door window were closed.
"What's going on? I can't hear a thing," Bobby whispered.
"I don't know. I can't hear either," Archie said.
"Don't you have something to amplify the sound?"
Archie stared at his taller friend in disbelief. "Sure. And would rather face Sara or Grissom when they found out we spied on them?"
Bobby winced at the thought. Neither alternative would be enjoyable. Pointing his head towards the door, the ballistics expert indicated they should step closer.
Watching the two other lab techs take an obvious step closer to the office, Greg moaned. They were going to get caught. That was so not being subtle. No wonder they never got to go into the field.
Operation Geek Intervention was not getting off to a good start.
The whole lab was buzzing. Sara called her boss an ass and a liar, and he had admitted she was going to kill him. There was a rumor she'd leave. No one wanted that. But before they could fix the problem, they had to find out what the problem was.
It was weird. He'd been gone for three weeks. They only talked for a few minutes when he got back. It was some strange conversation about baseball. Then she was ready to kill him.
Yow! What had Grissom done to rile up Sara like that? Greg knew he wouldn't want the brunette directing that much emotion at him. Well, actually he would love for her to direct that much emotion at him. Just not her temper.
Greg leaned out the door again, his wistful sigh turning into a groan. Those two were now leaning towards Grissom's door. Waving his hands frantically, Greg tried to catch their attention. At this rate, they'd end up crashing into the door.
No way was he getting on Sara's bad side when she was in this kind of mood.
She gave him a big smile. "Okay, Grissom, where do we start?"
"Lycopodium," he said, shutting his office door and closing the blinds. Sara raised her eyebrows at him.
Giving her a pointed look, Grissom hobbled to the other side of his desk and pulled out a large container from under it. The jar was filled with a yellowish powder.
"Lycopodium. Spores from the common club moss. The secret to any good dusting powder is the small grain size. This," he lifted the container up, "is about as small as you can get. Plus, the spores have a specific cohesive-buffer effect that gives it great adhesive qualities."
Grissom pointed out a collection of metal oxides in the supplies she had collected earlier. "Those will make Red Creeper red. Which is good, because?"
"Red will show up on both dark and light surfaces," she replied, enjoying the easy banter. This had been missing for too long. They were still along way from being ... whatever ... it was they were heading towards, but this was a start.
"Very good. Now, the rosin acts as a bonding agent, keeping everything together. The iodine compounds react with the double bonds in the unsaturated fatty acids excreted by the skin," Grissom continued, pointing out various substances and explaining what they contributed to the mixture. Sara was surprised by a number of the items.
A loud crash from the hallway caused them to look towards the door. Grissom sighed. "This happens every time I make Red Creeper. People want the secret."
"Okay, this may sound dumb, but don't we have a Trace Lab here? Can't they just analyze the powder?"
"Oh, Ecklie's tried that. It's not what's in it that makes it so good, it's the process of making it."
"Alchemy," she smirked.
"That's what I thought you said. Care to explain?"
"Corn. From the Old English, korn, meaning to granulate," he gave her a smile. "I knew you'd ask, so I looked it up." Sara returned the grin.
"So how do we corn," she asked. "Or is that the correct conjugation?"
"I don't know," he said. So far, this apology seemed to be working. They were joking. He hadn't done anything dumb. Yet. "'I corn, you corn, he corns'? Sounds right to me."
"Well, you'd be more up-to-date on Old English than me," she smirked.
Grissom felt more of the tension leave his body. This was good. Shifting some of the items on his desk, he made room to lean against it. His broken ankle was bothering him.
"First things first. Corning is the last step," he said. "Go ahead and start measuring out the metal oxides. The amounts are listed on the card. They'll need to be ground as fine as you can. Since you're the apprentice, you can do that part," he said, pushing a large mortar and pestle towards her. "It's okay to grind them together, rather than separately."
Grabbing a scale, Sara began measuring out the various amounts of oxides and dumping them into the ceramic container. She noticed he seemed uncomfortable as me measured out his share of the ingredients.
"Grissom, you should have your ankle propped up; it'll feel better if it's elevated."
"Reading my medical files again?"
"No, that was your personnel file," she corrected. "I broke my ankle in college. I remember what it felt like when I was standing for too long."
Knowing he wouldn't win an argument with her, and having no desire to start one, Grissom moved into his chair. Pulling out a drawer, he rested his cast on it. "So, how did you break your ankle?"
Sara blushed, refusing to look at him. This was definitely not a good conversation to be having. "You don't want to go there."
"Why? Wasn't another incident with Ken Fuller, was it?" Grissom joked, remembering their discussion years ago about her initiation into the Mile High Club. His grin disappeared when he saw Sara's blush deepen. "It was?"
She didn't answer immediately. When she finally looked up and saw his inquisitive stare, she shrugged. Why had she brought this up? "We had too much to drink, then we were, uhm, together, in the shower, and he, uhm, slipped, err, you really don't want me to continue, do you?"
"No," he said, knocking some iodine compounds onto the drop cloth. "I think I get the picture."
Well, he thought he did. He'd never actually done it in the shower, let alone on a commercial airplane. Sara obviously was more adventurous than he was in that regard. That was one of the reasons he'd been hesitant to start a relationship with her. In addition to being older, he apparently was also stodgier.
Could he make her happy? It wasn't as if his previous partners had lined up to sing his praises regarding that ability. Not that he was bad at it, but he'd hate to be a disappointment to her that way.
Sara looked up when Grissom let out a quiet sigh. He looked - what? Upset? Shocked? Scared? He was so hard to read sometimes. Did he think she was a exhibitionist or something? Considering he was willing to see a woman who needed a sex license, he wasn't in any position to judge. Still, it would be better to reassure him.
"Grissom, Ken Fuller comes near the top of the 'Dumb Things In Sara's Life' list. He was a bad influence," she said trying to inject some levity into the conversation. "Didn't you ever get involved with someone and regret it later?"
"No, I can't say that I have." Okay, she wasn't bragging about this guy. That was a good sign, right?
"Really?" Sara's voice carried a hint of a challenge.
Grissom froze. What had he done? Quickly considering the possibilities, he wondered if she knew about Lady Heather. He hoped not. How could she?
Who was he kidding? She probably did. Sara didn't care for that lifestyle at all and she wouldn't look favorably on his having had an encounter with the woman who ran a fetish club. Still, he wouldn't disparage the woman, even if Sara didn't like her profession.
"Let's just say that there may have been a time or two when, afterwards, I questioned why I became involved in the first place. But, no, regret isn't a term I'd use to describe the encounters."
Sara considered this for a moment before nodding her head. "Good answer."
They shared another smile.
"Don't be a baby," Greg snapped, handing the ice pack to Archie. "How are we supposed to figure out what's going on if you crash into his office! We need to be subtle. They'll kill us if they figure out what we're doing."
"That's the weird thing. We fell right outside of his office, and Grissom never came to see what we did. You don't think Sara actually did kill him? I mean, even she wouldn't get mad enough to do it in a building full of witnesses," Bobby joked.
"Okay, this isn't working. Obviously they're not fighting or we'd hear it, even with the door closed. If they were just working on some files, why would they close up the office? We're missing something here, guys. I mean, what else could they be doing?"
Archie and Bobby exchanged glances. They could think of something. Both turned to Greg and gave him a look indicating he was missing the obvious.
"Ewww! That's not even funny, guys!"
Archie and Bobby turned to glance at each other again, before giving Greg another look. The spiky-haired lab tech gave them an incredulous stare as he realized they weren't joking.
"Ewwww! No way. No!"
His friends gave him another look.
"No! Look, even if we have fallen into the Bizarro universe and they would ... do ... that ... together - and I place no confidence in that theory! - they'd never do it at work! In his office! During work hours!"
"Okay, you're probably right about that," Bobby admitted, trying to calm Greg down. The boy had it bad for Sara, but he also had a blind spot when it came to her. "We need to get someone inside that office. What can we use as a decoy?"
Looking around his lab desperately, Greg settled on a plan. Work could wait. He had to prove those two nuts were wrong.
"Grissom, tell me this stuff is fine enough! My arm's about to fall off!" Sara indicated the powdered mixture she had spent the last hour grinding with the mortal and pestle.
"Okay, it looks good. It'll get ground again after the corning," he smiled at her dirty look. "Let's clear this away and then we'll set up the next stage. It's a lot easier."
The two quickly moved the assorted containers and equipment onto the cart. Grissom was getting ready to describe the next step and the tools necessary when a knock came at the door.
"Hey, Grissom! Sara! I didn't know you were in here!" Greg danced into the room. He came to a dead stop when he saw Grissom's desk. Empty. Covered with a drop cloth. A stained drop cloth. He stared at it.
"Greg, is there a reason you're gracing us with your presence?"
"Somebody switch your coffee to decaf, Greggo?" Sara laughed at his stunned expression.
"Greg? Do I need to arrange a urine test for you?"
"Huh? Uh, no. No! The results from the samples from the Kreger case? I, uh, was wondering if you'd look at them? They don't look right."
Grissom took the printout from the lab tech. "Greg, it looks like the sample was probably just contaminated. Try again and see what happens."
"Greg? You need to go back to your lab to do that," Grissom told him when the lab tech made no move to leave.
Laughing, Sara went over, grabbed Greg's elbow and walked him to the door. "Do you need an escort, Greg?"
"No, no, I'm fine. Err, see you later," he finally squeaked out before Grissom closed the door behind him.
Grissom turned to Sara when she started to laugh. "Do you have any idea what that was about, Sara?"
"They're probably wondering what kind of accident I arranged for you," she smiled evilly. "You have to admit, us being in here, with the door closed, they'll be wondering what we're doing."
Both turned back towards their experiment and stopped when they noticed the empty desk with the dirty drop cloth. How would that have looked to Greg? "You don't think he thought we were..."
"Yeah, Griss, I think that's what he was thinking."
Sara started laughing again.
"Greg? Talk to us buddy. You okay?" Bobby turned to Archie, who just shrugged. "Greg!"
The lab tech jumped when his name was yelled in his ear. "His desk was cleared off. It had a stained drop cloth on it."
"What else, Greg. Come on, you said it yourself, they wouldn't do it at work," Archie encouraged.
"There was a lab cart of equipment there."
"We know that, Greg. We saw Sara take it in there," Bobby drawled.
Greg was lost in his own recollections: how many times had Sara turned him down; how many times Grissom caught him; the number of glares he been subjected to. Grissom would kill him now that had figured out their secret.
"Must be some experiment they're working on," Archie concluded finally.
"Yeah," Bobby agreed.
Greg just sat in his chair. His companions just shook their heads as they went back to their respective labs.
"Corning was a technique developed for use in the making of gunpowder. The term 'firearm' comes from the fact that early powder burned, it didn't explode. The first step to making it more effective was called incorporation, where the charcoal, saltpeter and sulfur were ground together for hours," Grissom began his explanation.
"Decreasing the grain size, increasing the surface area, which increased the burn rate," Sara replied.
"Yes, but it was more than that. Charcoal is porous. The grinding forced the sulfur and nitrate salts into the charcoal, making a more cohesive mixture."
"Charcoal acts as a fuel, which ignites the sulfur. The burning sulfur creates hydrogen sulfide, which breaks down the nitrate salts, supplying oxygen, which sustains the explosion," she added.
"Exactly. Somebody, though, discovered that if you mix the incorporated powder with water, let it dry and then regrind it, you'd get a far more powerful explosive. The water partially dissolves the saltpeter so it is absorbed by the charcoal. The sulfur is insoluble, but the salts will help draw the molecules into the charcoal. Probably discovered by accident. Someone spent all day grinding their powder, it got wet, and they tried to salvage it," he said. "They got a surprise when they lit it."
Both turned at the sound of laughter coming from the doorway.
Catherine was leaning against the frame. She had long ago figured out exactly how far she could open Grissom's door without triggering his damn singing fish. She had been observing the scene before her for the last few minutes with amusement.
Leave it to these two to repair their personal chemistry with actual chemistry.
"I guess it's safe to leave the two of you alone if you're actually teaching her how to make a better explosive," she joked.
"Actually, he's teaching me how to make Red Creeper," Sara bragged.
Grissom grinned at the look on Catherine's face. "Smart move," she told him. About time he put some of those excess brain cells to good use. "That suicide at the Tangiers? No way. Not unless you can explain how someone can shoot themselves in the back of the head after beating himself up."
"Do you need any help?"
"I think the boys and I can handle this," she said sarcastically. "Anything else come in?"
"It's been pretty quiet actually," Grissom said.
"You may want to check on Greg, Cath. We think he may have jumped to some wrong conclusions," Sara laughed.
Catherine joined in the laughter when she saw a very embarrassed Grissom. It wasn't hard to figure out what Greg must have thought.
"I'll take care of it. Behave yourselves," she called as she closed the door. Catherine was happy to hear the sound of Sara's laughter. Things were looking up.
"Man, Greg, did somebody piss in your Wheaties this morning? You look terrible," Nick said.
"Sara and Grissom have been locked in his office all night."
"Any screams?" Nick was the only one to laughed at Warrick's joke. Greg actually shuddered. Archie and Bobby looked uneasy.
"His desk was empty. It had a drop cloth on it."
"Greg, what do you think was going on?" All the men turned at Catherine's hard tone.
"Uhm, well, I mean, I."
"Greg, I know you can talk. Form complete sentences. Now!"
"I don't know. That's what we can't figure out," he indicated the other lab techs, who were trying to put distance between themselves and Catherine. "Why were they locked away? They weren't fighting. What could they be doing that they didn't want anyone to know about?"
Nick and Warrick exchanged glances. They wouldn't? Not at work. No.
"Hmm, maybe it was because he was showing Sara his secret formula for Red Creeper?"
"Sorry, Warrick, looks like you've lost your spot as teacher's pet," Catherine gave him a sympathetic smile. He had wanted that recipe for the longest time.
She turned her attention back the lab tech. Poor Greg. She hated to do this to him. She put on her best angry-mother expression and lowered her tone.
"Greg, I'm only going to say this once: Grissom is her supervisor. For them to be in a relationship would be in violation of any number of department regulations. I would be very, very careful of any unfounded rumors you started," she glared at all the men in the room.
"And they would be unfounded. I can tell you for a fact that they aren't involved. Forget what they'll do to you: I'll make the remainder of all your lives miserable if they get any grief over any rumors. Am I making myself clear?"
"Yes, m'am," was chorused throughout the room. Catherine kept her smile to herself. There wasn't anything going on - for now.
Greg relaxed. He knew there was nothing between those two. He'd have noticed if there was.
Back in Grissom's office, Sara finished combining the ground oxides, spores and assorted other compounds in a large container. Handing her a beaker of water, Grissom moved to set up the funnels. While she mixed the slurry thoroughly, he lined the funnels with several layers of filter paper and set them into large beakers.
"So, Grissom, what made you try corning?"
"Honestly?" He stopped at her expression.
"Grissom, honesty is the only policy when you're dealing with me. Tell me it's none of my business, ignore me, tell me to shut the hell up, but don't ever lie to me. Ever. Okay?"
"Fair enough. Sorry," he said sincerely. "As for the Red Creeper, it was an accident. I spilled my water into a batch I was making. It turned out better," he said.
"So, why is it called Red Creeper?"
"Because it's red," he laughed at the evil look she directed towards him. "'Creep' was a term that always seemed to be used around me. It seemed natural."
She looked at him in surprise but caught the teasing look in his eye. "From all the bugs, I imagine."
She only gave him an amused look as an answer to his question. Sara poured the red paste into the funnels, where the excess water would drain through the filter paper, leaving behind Red Creeper. "Wouldn't this work faster if we put it in a dehydrator?"
"The end result doesn't seem to be as good," he said, handing her a plastic squeeze bottle. "Use acetone. It'll help the water evaporate faster. Want to take a break? It'll be awhile before this is dry enough to corn."
On the way to the break room, Sara stuck her head into Greg's lab. "Find your brain, Greggo?"
"Ah, Sara! You escaped your imprisonment! Do you need a knight in shining armor to rescue you?" He playfully batted his eyes at her.
"Tell you what, Greg. You find a suit of armor and a horse, then ask me again," she laughed. Shaking her head, Sara continued to the break room. Catherine was good. The last thing they needed right now was questions about the nature of their relationship. Despite all their joking tonight, Sara knew they still had a lot of issues to work out.
She found Grissom trying to carry a cup of coffee and manage his crutches at the same time. The look of confusion on his face as he tried to work out a task which required three hands was comical.
Her humor died down when she recalled the accident which had broken his ankle. She couldn't remember the last time she was that frightened. She hoped she'd never feel that way again.
Walking into the room, she reached over and took the coffee from his hands and set it on the table. Looking up, she spurted out a laugh before she could stop herself.
"Nothing," Sara quickly looked away from Grissom's face. If she looked at him, she'd break up. Oh, god, who had done that?
"It's nothing, Griss, really."
Not believing her, Grissom turned around to see what could have caused her reaction. There in the corner was the plant he sent her. Hanging from one of the fronds was a rubber tarantula. It was suspended from its own little noose. Someone had even X-ed out all of its eyes.
Setting down in a chair, he tried to catch Sara's eye. She was obviously trying to contain her laughter. Did she think he'd be insulted? One way to settle that. "Looks like someone started their Christmas decorations early."
She flashed him a quick smile, before grabbing herself a cup of coffee and joining him at the table.
"I never thanked you for the plant, Grissom," she said. "Thanks."
"I'm sorry it was necessary."
Sara didn't respond. This wasn't a conversation she wanted to get into at work.
"Want to split a pizza? My treat."
"Sure, Sara, no anchovies," he grinned at her mock glare. He understood why she had changed the topic. They could talk about that later.
After eating their lunch, they split up. There was some paper work Grissom couldn't completely ignore and the Red Creeper was still too wet to work with. Sara checked up on Nick in the drying room.
"Be nice to me, Nicky, or you'll never get the formula."
"Like you'll ever share. That stuff is gold."
"I know," she said with a smug look. "What have you guys got?"
"Not much, yet. We've sent some stuff to Trace, but they're backed up for some reason tonight," Nick said. He gave Sara a smile. "You aren't planning on leaving us, are you Sar? 'Cause we start getting nervous whenever plants come for you."
"Nervous? I thought you'd be happy," she gave his shoulder a pat. "You'll never make teacher's pet while I'm here."
"Really?" Nick said with a lecherous grin.
"I don't believe you! You are so dead, Stokes!"
"If I send you a plant, will you forgive me?"
"No!" Sara yelled as she left the lab. She'd go help Trace with their backup.
Nick laughed as she stalked out of the room. Yeah, things were getting back to normal.
"Hey, Grissom. Ready to get corny?"
"Sara, that has to be one of the dumbest jokes you've ever come up with."
"Thanks. I try."
"And to answer your question, yes it is. I was waiting for you to get back before starting," he smiled. "I didn't want you to miss out."
"You didn't want to do the grinding yourself, you mean."
"That too," he smiled. "Go ahead and start breaking down the powder. Don't worry about getting it too fine for now." He got up and moved to a box on one of his shelves. After a few minutes of looking around, he pulled out a beat-up coffee grinder.
"I can't believe you! I spent an hour grinding that stuff by hand!"
"A necessary step, I'm afraid. This won't break down the oxides to a fine enough grain," he said, tossing the machine to her. "But it'll work for the last stage. You just need to break up the worse of it by hand first."
Within minutes, they finished the last stages of the grinding and loaded up several jars with the powder. Grissom gave Sara the largest jar. "For your private collection."
"Try not to make the others too jealous."
She gave him a dirty look, but kept a small smile.
Grissom tried to return it, but failed. The time for playful banter was about to end.
"Look, Sara, shift'll be over in a little bit. I need to finish this report for Mobley before I leave, though. Would you like to come over to my place for breakfast? Or meet somewhere?"
She considered this. A diner would be more neutral, but it also wouldn't be as private. Which would be more comfortable?
"I, I don't care, Grissom. Do you have a preference?"
"I'd be able to put my feet up, literally, at my place," he pointed to his cast. "But if that makes you uncomfortable, though..."
"No, that'll be good, Grissom. Just let me know when to show up."
"It'll take me about a half-hour to finish this, so how about an hour after shift ends?"
Sara walked towards the locker room slowly. Tonight had been good, but they had avoided any discussion about their problems. This was going to be a long morning.
Breakfast was a very quiet affair. Besides polite questions about what she'd prefer, Grissom remained silent while he quickly fixed their meal. They ate in silence as well.
Sara could tell he was nervous, but this was ridiculous. He'd invited her over so they could discuss their current situation. That would require actually talking. Time to break the ice.
"Grissom, the surgery? How well did it work?"
"Pretty well, considering the extent of the growth. I regained most of my hearing, but there's some loss," he said. "Not much worse than what's normal for a man my age, actually," he added quickly when he saw her worried expression. "Why?"
"In the stairwell, that night, you didn't react. We heard the noise upstairs, heard the guy running down the stairs, but you didn't. I was worried," she finally answered.
How to respond to that? Honesty, remember?
"I think the fact I was distracted played a bigger part in that than my hearing," he said.
"Why were you distracted?" Sara at first thought he wasn't going to answer her question, but he finally looked at her with a piercing glare.
"You weren't talking to me. I didn't know how to fix the problem. Then, you and that detective. You were flirting," he shrugged. What was her expression settling on?
"No way, Grissom! Don't even try that!"
"What?" What had he said?
"You can't have it both ways. You have no right to be jealous. You turned me down, remember," she said firmly.
This wasn't going well. He hadn't meant to make her upset. He wanted to apologize. "Well, we're here now," he tried.
She looked up at him in shock and started shaking her head. "No. I don't know what ...this... is, but this isn't a date," she said firmly. Did he think this was a date? Did he want a date?
"How about two friends trying to get reacquainted?" Grissom suggested.
"Okay, that sounds good," she said. Neither talked for awhile. "Would you prefer if I left?" Sara eventually asked when she saw how uncomfortable Grissom looked.
He snapped his head up. "No. I'm sorry," he paused. "I'm not much of a talker."
"Really? I'd never noticed." Sara maintained eye contact, even though she saw his painful expression.
"Grissom, I've known you for years. I know you're not much of a talker. Neither am I. That's probably how we ended up in this mess," she said softly. Perhaps if she started, it'd be easier for him.
"I'm sorry. I never meant to put you on the spot by asking you out. If I had any idea how much that would bother you, I'd never would have said a thing," she hesitated. "This is embarrassing for me, Griss. I can't believe how badly I misread the situation. I actually thought you were ... well, I'm sorry."
Grissom watched her quietly. She thought he wasn't interested? Well, when was the last time he expressed an interest? But if she was interested in him, what was the deal with that paramedic? Well, it wasn't as if she was going to wait forever. Sara warned him about that after asking him out.
Maybe she had gotten tired of waiting for him to make a move. If things hadn't gone bad with Hank, would she be here now? Was he a backup? Or had Hank been a diversion? He must have been a diversion. What could have seen in that guy? How long would she wait before getting another diversion? How would he react then? Why was she getting angry? How long had he been staring at her?
Shaking his head, Grissom pursed his lips, his tongue protruding silently, trying to figure out how to respond. "Oh." Damn.
"Look, Griss, I won't bring it up again, okay? It's in the past, it's over, and I'm sorry. What do I need to do for us to be friends again?" Sara got up from the table and walked to a window. She didn't want him to see the tears forming.
"Sara, I told you, we are friends. I'm sorry I made you think otherwise," Grissom said. He could tell she was tense. Why wouldn't she face him? "Sara? Your asking me out? That didn't upset me. And you didn't really misread anything."
"Really. But, I'm not sure about us, that way. I," he paused when she turned. Her expression was sad. He hated when he did that to her. "I don't want to hurt you."
"Why do you think that'd hurt me?"
"Past history? I'm not good in relationships. They never end well. I don't want to be the one who hurts you."
"Are you worried about me getting hurt? 'Cause I can take care of myself, Grissom. I'm a big girl. I can make decisions for myself," she walked towards him. "Or are you worried about yourself?"
He nodded softly. He'd been hurt before, that's true. 'Third degree burns' was the expression Catherine had used. Sara knew him well enough to recognize the truth.
"I guess both."
"You've thought about this? All the things that could go wrong? Did you make a list? I'd like to hear it."
Grissom regarded her carefully. What was going on?
"I haven't made a list, Sara," he finally said. Her expression was unwavering.
"I'm older; I'm not good in relationships - any aspect of them; I'm your supervisor, which adds another layer of complications," he said, wondering how best to respond to her. Honesty, remember? "You scare me."
That got a reaction. "Really? Why?"
"Because as much as I've been hurt in the past, you could do a lot worse. I'd fall too far for you. I don't want to think about what it be like once you left."
"So, you've thought through all the things that could go wrong? Have you ever thought about all the things that could go right? How good it could be? Because I can tell you, Grissom, I've thought through both, and the good really outweighs the bad."
He looked at the floor, trying to process all that she had said. Could they make something work? It wouldn't be easy, but, hell, what they had now sure wasn't easy. How good could it get?
"I don't know, Sara, I want," he hesitated, unsure of himself. If they tried and failed, he'd be miserable. But if he didn't try, she'd move on. How miserable would he be if she found happiness with someone else?
"Tell me, Grissom, what is it that you want."
He gave her a gentle smile. "I guess I want to know if it's too late."
She returned the smile. "I don't know, Grissom. We're still not straight. But I guess we'll just have to take it one step at a time and see what happens."
- The End -
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