Archive: Please ask first I might say yes.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to CSI.
Author's Note: Last chapter up will be the epilogue. Thanks again for the great reviews!
Summary: Explosion at a crime scene.
Desert Palms Hospital...
"Three hours! I leave home for three hours and all hell breaks loose. Damn it, Nicky! I told you to watch them!" Catherine swore as she paced the ER waiting room.
"I was watchin' them, Cath. How was I supposed to know Sara was clumsier than Grissom? Besides, it wasn't that bad."
Catherine had been attending Lindsey's recital when she got Nick's call and met him at the hospital. "It wasn't that bad?" She countered unconvinced. On the way to the hospital, after collecting Lindsey and depositing at her sister's, Catherine had received four calls from concerned neighbors and one from Sam Braun. Her father had heard there was trouble at her house. She politely turned down his offer to assist.
Arriving at the hospital, with a distinct feeling of deja-vu, Catherine found her colleagues easily. Turns out, Sara had a mild concussion and required several stitches for her head wound. Currently, they were awaiting a plastic surgeon for the sutures to ensure minimal scarring. Sara would be staying overnight for observation.
Grissom on the other hand, needed to have his cast replaced. The Fire Department, one of her many apparent houseguests, had to remove the cast in order to extricate Grissom's foot. Warrick quietly added that they had some trouble removing the sink.
Thinking of the condition of her home only fueled Catherine's homicidal thoughts.
"Okay, obviously Grissom won't be in tonight. I'll take him home, he should be fine there. I'll medicate and staple his ass to the bed. I want one of us to check on him visually every couple of hours. Is that understood?"
Warrick nodded, than asked. "What about Sara?"
Catherine sighed heavily. "We're stretched thin. If it's quiet, one of us will stay here a while. Just keep your pagers on."
"Oh, how could I forget? There's good news!" Nick stood excitedly.
"There's good news?" Brass found this hard to believe.
"Yeah, Sara can hear!"
"What?" The group chorused.
"I mean not completely but she could hear the telephone ringing in one ear. She's going to see the Otologist in the morning before discharge."
"That's great!" Warrick said beaming.
"That is good news." Catherine agreed quietly, suddenly feeling a little emotional. It was the best news she had heard in a long while.
Catherine's heart broke when she would hear Sara cry herself to sleep or wipe away her tears of frustration when she thought no one would see. Sara never realized that her eyes betrayed her words of strength or that her voice gave away too much emotion. And when Catherine thought Sara had reached her breaking point and would surely sink into a deep depression, Sara would wake the next morning with a whole new resolve. Ready to take on the world. Sara was the strongest woman Catherine had ever met. She had never encountered such fierce determination and strength that burned within Sara's small frame.
Catherine was proud to have Sara as a role model for Lindsey. Hell, Sara was Catherine's inspiration. Spending time with Sara in her home had permanently endeared the younger woman forever to her heart. Catherine knew there wasn't much she wouldn't do for Sara. Anything, including helping Sara acquire the one thing she wanted most. Grissom.
"God, I'm tired." The man's name alone brought her to the brink of exhaustion. Just as Catherine moved to sit, a nurse rolled Grissom into the waiting area in a wheelchair. "What the hell is that?" Catherine demanded, throwing Nick an irritated glance while pointing to Grissom's wrist. It was freshly plastered, matching the cast on the opposite leg - perfectly.
"Cathy!" Grissom greeted.
Cathy? Nick, Brass, Warrick and Catherine stared at Grissom in astonishment.
"Oh, he's feeling no pain!" Warrick concluded.
"I wanna see Sara." Grissom slurred.
Catherine rolled her eyes. Here we go with this shit again. "Of course, Gil."
The next evening at Catherine's...
Sara glanced at the clock. Grissom would be there soon. Usually, that thought was enough to send her heart into overdrive, but today it sank her into a deep funk. The excitement over her increased hearing capabilities was quickly tapered by a visit from the specialist. While pleased with her news, Dr. Riley happily informed Sara that he had scheduled with an appointment for her to be fitted for hearing aids. Killjoy.
Seems, he wasn't as optimistic that Sara would be one hundred percent anytime in the near future. Why couldn't she ever have what she wanted? She wasn't a bad person. She didn't steal from others or cheat on her taxes. Sara donated to charities, only took one newspaper from the machine and even added extra change to people's meters if she noticed their time would expire soon.
All she wanted was to work in the crime lab and Grissom. If everything healed nicely, she would be able to keep her job and at the moment, it seemed as if she may have a chance with Grissom. Since she'd awaken in the hospital, Grissom had been attentive, supportive, flirtatious and downright charming. Only now, she questioned his motives.
Sara flopped back on the couch with a loud sigh. Why couldn't things be more simple?
"Grissom should be here soon, Sara." Catherine reminded her charge unnecessarily. The younger woman hadn't had much to say since her discharge earlier. Catherine tried to engage Sara in conversation but she was not interested. Hopefully, their supervisor would help with the mood.
"You want to grab a bite to eat?" Warrick, leaning against the kitchen door jam, suggested after seeing Grissom safely to the living room sofa.
"Uh uh. No way are they being left alone. How about I fix us something and we relax out on the patio?"
"Sounds like a plan. So Cath, what's wrong with Sara? I figured she'd be bouncing off of the walls with being released today and her hearing news."
"I've got no clue, Warrick. No clue at all."
"Sara." Grissom started.
"Stop saying my name, you know I can't hear you!" Sara snapped.
"Then how did you know I said your name?" Grissom questioned, this time signing as well as speaking. His progress was hampered by the cast on his wrist, so he had to resort to finger spelling some of the more complicated words. She shrugged. "How, Sara?"
"What do you want from me?"
Grissom pondered her question a moment before he began.
"I've spoken to Cavallo and Atwater about your returning to work."
Finally! Sara thought, good news. "Okay."
"You understand that for the moment, you cannot be cleared for field work."
Sara nodded nervously. Okay, maybe not good news.
"They would like you to return, pending your approval of course, as a Crime Scene Analyzer."
"What? Crime Scene what? I don't know that last word."
Grissom finger spelled analyzer.
"Analyzer? What in the hell is that? I've never heard of that before. Did they make up a position for me?"
"Yes." Grissom admitted honestly. No sense in lying about it. "Only until you are cleared for the field."
"What if I'm not cleared?"
"The position remains." He signed simply, unable to meet her eyes.
Sara studied Grissom with a frown. "No thank you."
"No. I'm not coming back as some flunky or anybody's gofer. And, I'm not some charity case. I'm a CSI Level III, damn it and I've worked hard to earn it. You'll have my resignation by the beginning of shift tonight."
"Sara." Grissom warned. In truth, she didn't have a lot of options if she wanted to return to the lab, to the nightshift, to the team and to him. Personally, he didn't care what they called her as long as she was able to complete the work she loved and stayed by his side. "Sara-."
"Don't Sara me. It's not up for discussion. Anything else?"
Grissom figured he might as well go for broke.
"It's time to start making arrangements for you to leave Catherine's." What he really wanted to suggest was that she leave Catherine's and move in with him but he knew that would never happen.
"You say that like I need to rent a U-haul truck or something. I have one suitcase and a duffel bag."
"Speak louder. That's not what I meant. We need to have some necessities installed in your apartment for a person that is... hearing impaired." Grissom watched as her eyes flashed with hurt, anger and then defeat. He hurried on. "I've brought some catalogs of items to choose from-"
"Leave them on the table." Sara interrupted.
"I said, leave them on the table!" She shouted now, then made her way to her bedroom and slammed the door.
"What's going on now, Gil? Warrick and I could hear Sara yelling outside." Catherine shook her head in exasperated disbelief. The man had absolutely no people skills.
"Everything's fine." Grissom stated though, but even he didn't believe it.
"What are these?" Warrick wondered out loud as he picked up several catalogs from the coffee table.
"I brought them for Sara. I suggested she start preparing herself to live with her hearing impairment."
"I bet that went over well." Warrick correctly guessed.
"Maybe it's just too soon?" Catherine suggested.
"No, it's not too soon, Catherine. She can't stay here forever."
"You act like Sara's being held hostage, Gil. She's free to leave here at anytime she wants." Catherine's irritation apparent.
"I know, Cath. I'm just saying that Sara needs to move on. She can't stay still waiting for her ears to heal. That could take years. In the meanwhile, I know that she's afraid, hell I'm afraid for her, but I'll help her every step of the way. I'll be right there by her side."
Catherine glanced at Warrick with a knowing smile. "We know, Gil."
Sara was throwing her belongings into her suitcase when Grissom cracked open the bedroom door. Flicking the lights to announce his arrival, he waited for her to turn around before he limped inside.
"What are you doing?" Grissom signed quickly.
Sara rolled her eyes. "Some hot shot investigator you are!"
"Stop. Let's talk."
"Make up your mind, Grissom. Either you're kicking me out of Catherine's house-"
"I'm not kicking you out. Let's talk. Sit down."
Sara sat down for all of two seconds then stood and began to pace.
"When did you stop? I know these last years have been rough, but when exactly did you stop believing in me?" Sara questioned but made no attempt to stop moving or turn to face Grissom for an answer. "And not just you Grissom, everyone. Though, I have to admit, it hurts worst with you. It's not like I don't appreciate all the support you all have shown. Being here for me, learning to sign? That's incredible. But it's like everyone's in a hurry for me to just accept being deaf and move on." Behind her, Grissom flinched at the familiar words he had recently spoken to Catherine. "Then you show up here today with your book of contraptions for the hearing impaired. No offense to the non hearing world, but excuse me if I'm not ready to give up and join in." She continued, swiping away angry tears. "I'm not some weak, helpless animal, damn it! I'm still Sara. Not your pet project. Not some freak who used to be a CSI. Not some broken doll that can't be fixed, that every one feels sorry for." Sara turned to face Grissom for he first time, speaking and signing her last sentence. "I'm still Sara, with or without hearing!"
"I know that, Sara. It's what I've been trying to show you all along." Sara frowned at him questioningly. "If my surgery had not been successful, would you have seen me as any less of a man?"
"What makes you think we see you as any less of a woman?"
"No one feels sorry for you."
"You do. Don't you think I know what's going on here?"
It was Grissom's turn to frown.
"Why now, Griss? After all this time, why are you suddenly now wanting to be close to me? Pursuing me? Throwing caution to the wind has never been your strong suit. What about your job or your precious reputation? Now I'm worth the risk? When the hell did you figure out what to do about this?" She gestured between their bodies. "Wait let me guess... after the explosion you had some great epiphany? Or maybe it was after you learned of my ear damage. You figure you could take care of me. I would be vulnerable, compliant and willing to put up with more of your torture that's been slowly driving me insane for the past several years. Hell, what a bonus that you already knew sign language. Or maybe you wanted to take advantage of the fact -"
"That's enough, Sara!" Grissom interrupted her tirade, alternating between speech, manual gestures and finger spelling. "Why does everything have to be so difficult with you? For once in your life, why can't you take things at face value? The evidence is in plain sight, Sara. Is it that difficult to wrap your brain around the concept that I care for you? That I want to be with you? That I love you? You think I'm not capable of feelings? Well, I've got news for you, Sweetheart, I do feel. Deeply. Coercion is not my style and you have no idea-"
"Wait. Stop, I-I can't keep up. You're giving me a headache. Write it down."
Grissom gave her a disapproving glare.
"I just mean that, you said so much so fast... I wasn't sure..." Her voice petered off nervously. She had understood the majority of his words but when he signed 'I love you' and 'sweetheart' she sort of lost track of his hands and missed the rest.
Her eyes filled with tears. Sara would have given anything in the world to hear the way Grissom said her name just then. "Say it again, Grissom."
It didn't take a Ph.D. to figure out what she wanted. Grissom breathed deeply to slow down his racing pulse. It was now or never. He stepped closer and caught a lone tear cascading down the gentle slope of her beautiful face. "Sara. I do love you." He enunciated clearly.
Grissom nodded then pulled her into his arms.
"It's pretty quiet in there now." Catherine observed.
"Uh hmm. Either they kissed and made up or..." Warrick wiggled his brows suggestively.
"Walk with me, Sara." Grissom suggested after their embrace ended awkwardly.
"Uh no." Sara pointed to Grissom's cast. "How about I make us some lemonade and we sit out back?"
"When did Catherine grow a green thumb?" Grissom pondered as he took in the neatly trimmed hedges and fragrant flowers that created a peaceful retreat in Catherine's back yard.
"She didn't. It's sort have been my therapy."
"Nice work. Nice work indeed, Sara." Grissom was impressed but not surprised. Sara always gave one hundred percent to any project she tackled. Which was why he'd taken so long to figure things out. He wasn't sure if he could handle one hundred percent of Sara's attention. He turned to find Sara studying him intently.
"Sara," Grissom began after several minutes of companionable silence. "Is it too late?"
"No." Sara answered almost immediately, then flashed a shy dimpled smile. "About that stuff I said back in the house..."
Grissom waved her off. "Don't worry about it. I truly am sorry for everything I've put you through, Sara. You've suffered horribly because of my inability to figure out and do something about feelings I have harbored for you for many years." Grissom sighed heavily, then raised his hands to continue. "I'm afraid Sara - no, I'm terrified that I'm going to screw this up and lose you forever. But, I'm going to try. I've got a second chance and I'm going to love you like you deserved to be loved. That much, I promise."
Sara threaded her fingers through Grissom's with a smile. Maybe just this once she could get everything she wanted. "This is it then, huh? We're going for it?"
"I love you too, Grissom."
"That's very good to know."
"You know Gris, there's a ton of things about me that will probably irritate the hell out of you."
"I imagine so." Grissom teased. "Same here, Sara. But there are more things about you that I love."
Sara blushed, then looked up expectantly. "So, this means we're gonna have lots of sex now, right?"
It was Grissom's turn to blush. "It's definitely a major part of the plan."
"Good. Now, tell me about my new job."
- The End -
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