Rating: As M as I get (which isn't very M), also O for just plain Odd.
Spoilers: Everything and possibly then some (loosely based on what I think may happen in 9X07, which is loosely based on one spoiler-and it's a blink and you miss it type thing but…still, I'm being responsible and warning you anyway)
Disclaimer: I keep hoping they will be mine one day, but…alas. I just feed and nurture them. Like stray cats.
Summary: Sometimes, you just have to take a leap of faith.
Do it. Don't think. Just do it.
He pressed the record button.
He reached a dead end already. Her taped message had been completely natural while he probably looked, and certainly felt, like the world's biggest buffoon. But, this had to be done.
"I guess this is probably the last thing you'd ever expect from me. I never really expected it from myself. I spent an hour in Circuit City learning the ins and outs of webcamming. Hopefully, I will get it right the first time. I'm not so sure I'd live through a repeat performance."
There, that was better. A joke (of sorts) to try and break the ice.
"After the way things en…well, it was beyond kind of you to send me your tape…video...web cam communication."
Okay. Now he knew the smile he was trying to force was painful to witness. He dropped it. Slow and steady. He could do this.
"Today, something happened that reminded me of…last year. Before you left Las Vegas. The reason you left Las Vegas. And, um, I even found out some details I didn't know about before today. I guess I never really wanted to know. I thought it would be too painful for you to recount, and I knew it would be painful for me to listen to. But, it was no less painful hearing about it today. The enormity of your experience and the way I…dropped the proverbial ball…hit me hard.
There are details from that day you don't know about, either. Well, at least, not from me. Again, I didn't want to upset you. But I think, in keeping things from you, you might have had the impression that we treated this as just another case. And no one did. We went into action but there was this rising sense of…panic…that kept threatening to consume us. I know that probably sounds melodramatic, but that's what it was like. Finding that car…almost completely buried. Knowing, if you were inside…" He took a deep breath. "Later, when we were following the trail you left for us, we found a dead body. Face down. Long hair. Obviously, it wasn't you, but for one moment, my world stopped. And then, when we did find you, I just remember thinking that you had to wake up. There were too many things I had to tell you.
I just never did.
I wanted things to be normal again. I wanted us to be happy again. I ignored all the warning signs and then you were gone. And…part of me…thought you were better off. No, part of me knew you were better off.
When you came back, I knew you weren't ready to return on a permanent basis. But that didn't stop me from wanting you to stay. And when you couldn't..."
Was he even making any sense? He felt as if he were reciting a short history of the world instead of saying what he really wanted to say.
"I…got angry. I remember looking at you in my office, and seeing how quickly you were coming to Tom Adler's defense. Forsaking science and following your heart for this long dormant case. And wondering why you couldn't forsake whatever you felt you had to forsake…for me. The fact that I knew we were dealing with your well-being and your sanity didn't seem to phase me.
I remember thinking I should thank you. Thank you for putting everything else aside to be with me. To hold me, to ask me probing questions that I didn't particularly want to answer, to help me deal with Warrick's death. And all that came out of my mouth was…what came out of my mouth.
And then you were gone. And, Sara, it never occurred to me that you wouldn't be. I imagined you leaving me from the day I met you. And I think all the things I should have said to you…all the things I wanted to say and felt you needed to hear, you deserved to hear…were left unsaid because I thought it would lessen MY pain when the time for you to leave me arrived. It never occurred to me that I would be the one to bring this on myself.
And I did. And now, I…guess I want you to know that I didn't mean what I said . Those words in the office. I chose those words to intentionally hurt you. To intentionally manipulate you into staying. Because, I thought, those were fighting words and my Sara never backed away from a fight in her life. Especially where I was concerned. But, I pushed you once too often.
And, if you never…if we never speak again, this much I owe you. The truth about that last conversation we had and one thing more. I have always loved you. I still do and always will. And I can't even begin to express how sorry I am for what I did to our relationship.
I hope someday…"
What? What did he hope? He didn't know himself. He visualized Sara's face and managed a sad smile and a good long look in the camera.
Look at me, I'm a jerk. But I'm a jerk who is telling the truth. And a jerk who loves you. Believe that.
He reached over and pressed the stop button.
He saved the file and opened his email program. He quickly typed in Sara's email address aboard the Sea Shepherd and attached it. Just before he hit the send button, his finger stopped in mid-air.
Long ago, what seemed like a lifetime ago, he wrote her a letter and decided some things were better said in person. This, what he was about to send, was also better left to say in person.
But, as with the letter, he knew he wouldn't do it.
He hit send and picked up the phone. Even Ecklie deserved the personal treatment. He would tell him about his resignation before putting a formal letter on his desk in the morning.
She had planned on signing on for another stint on the Sea Shepherd. It was exciting, interesting, worthwhile work and she really didn't have much direction in her life. Not at the moment, anyway.
One more voyage. One more chance to be away from everything, and among people who understood other "odd" people. That was somewhat of a comfort.
Sara said goodnight to her crewmates early. It had been an exhausting day and she just wanted some sleep. That was another thing this ship had going for it. She was able to sleep fairly well.
She checked her email before going to bed, and her plans (and possibly the earth itself) rotated 180 degrees.
She hit the reply button on her email immediately.
And they continued to email each other back and forth (no more webcams, funnily enough) for the next few weeks.
He was leaving the lab. Had put in his notice on the same day he sent her that first message. And he hadn't expected anything from that tape, either. Just wanted to make…amends.
And when she walked down the gangplank of the Sea Shepherd that morning, there he was. Standing in the sun, wearing his silly straw hat and a brand new (flowered!) orange Hawaiian shirt and khaki pants. And she wanted to laugh and cry all at the same time.
And most of all, she kind of wanted to hate him. But, that wasn't going to happen in this lifetime.
She took him to her small rented-by-the-month musty apartment. Together, they opened windows, ordered Chinese food and talked for hours about their individual lives. It was…odd. Having whole lives, whole existences without the other one being a part of them.
Later, he took her in his arms and started to make love and she just…
Couldn't do it.
He knew things weren't right mid-foreplay.
There was an uncharacteristic reserve in her response. She was definitely holding back.
It had been a while. A good long while. A bad long while…
And the last few times had been more therapeutic than loving. There had been a desperation about it. A need to forget everything: Natalie, Warrick, the months of loneliness, the constant wondering if he'd ever see her again. The unending heartache.
And then she was gone again. And with her departure came the slow, terrible realization that it was his own damned fault and…
Well, all that was over. It was the past. This was his future.
He had said goodbye to the lab. Rented out his townhouse. Asked Jim to temporarily take care of Hank until they found a place in California. Took a chance.
All the "business" of starting life over again was taken care of. Well, except for the small detail of what they would do for a living. And the large detail of whether or not she truly wanted to spend the rest of her life with him.
Although, her welcoming him back without reserve when he finally made his move was a good sign. Wasn't it?
"Sara," he said, breaking their kiss.
She opened her eyes and frowned. She looked…frightened.
"Why don't we try this again tomorrow? When we've both had some sleep? It's been a very eventful day."
"But … you wanted to now," she said and leaned forward to kiss his neck. Her warms lips felt like a balm to his soul. But, this wasn't really about him. Not this time.
Now he was the one who was suddenly scared. Didn't they? He hadn't really asked. Not yet, anyway.
She nodded, got up from the bed, and extended her hand to him. He hesitated for a second, then took it.
She led him to the now dark living room and the functional, straight-backed chair that stood right by the opened window. The glow from the three-quarters full moon provided the only illumination.
"Sit," she said, and he did. He wasn't sure where she was going with this but it was her move to make this time.
She reached down and helped him out of the only clothing he currently had on, his boxers. She pulled off her tank top and panties and straddled his body.
"Sara, I thought…"
"I want to do this, Gris. I just…I want to see you. I couldn't see you in the bedroom."
He was about to tell her that there was, technically, more light in the bedroom than in here. She had a habit of leaving at least one nightstand lamp on while they made love. But, then, he understood. She didn't want him over her. And she didn't want to be over him. She wanted to be face to face. She wanted to watch him.
She rose up and slowly took him inside her.
"You're not ready, Sara…"
She grimaced and rocked slowly. "I'm fine."
Stubborn woman. His stubborn woman. Maybe his. If he passed this…whatever it was. And he had no doubt it was a test of some kind.
He watched her face even as she was watching his. She didn't look like she was enjoying herself much, but then she started grinding herself against him and he could tell she was quite ready for more movement. He thrust up into her, while staring in her eyes.
Do what you did in the video, he thought, and nearly laughed out loud at the bizarre notion of taking sex advice from an awkwardly conversational video. But, then, he did it. He let the love he felt bubble up, up, up into his eyes and hoped like hell some of what he was trying to convey would reach her own heart.
She leaned forward and grabbed the back of his chair, even as she let her legs drop to the floor to give herself more traction. She stared at him even more intently as she picked up her pace and rocked and lifted herself up, then down, in a maddening rhythm. God, he had missed this. And he so wanted to let go, but this was more than just mutually seeking pleasure. It was a recommitment. It was both a death and a rebirth. It was…a validation of everything they were and everything they would be.
And, after looking in his eyes for one more moment, something shifted, and she leaned forward and kissed him deeply. She closed her eyes, moaned softly and let her hands fall from the back of his chair. She held him close to her and he could still feel the tiny aftershocks of her orgasm as he found his own release.
He held her close for a long while, even as she continued to hold him. Stroking her hair, sliding his newly shaved cheek across the creamy skin of her face, made slick by her tears. Or his.
"I'm sorry, Sara. I'm sorry."
And she just squeezed him tighter and he felt the warm splash of tears on his shoulder.
It was… a beginning.
Well, there was her answer then.
She had been concentrating on her own hurt (well, most of the time) but she now had proof that their breakup had driven Gil Grissom out of his mind.
She should have seen the signs. The Resignation from the lab (the very Mac Daddy of all Warnings), the meeting at the dock, the attentiveness. But the kicker was, he woke her up this morning for the sole purpose of taking a drive "somewhere" to see "someone he met on the internet."
It was a good thing she was back in his life. He was so clueless about certain things, before he realized what was happening, he'd find himself on a porn site featuring Hot Bug Guys.
"What are you giggling about over there?" he asked, briefly taking his eyes off the road to look at her.
"You. You meeting someone on the internet."
"I didn't meet them, technically. Not yet, anyway."
"Them. And that's all I'm saying for now. It's a surprise."
Them. Even worse. Bug-guy threesomes.
"You're full of surprises," she said, and put her hand on his thigh, just because she could.
"My dear, you ain't seen nothing yet."
My dear. There was that lump in her throat again. It was very hard to reconcile being in this car, at this moment, with him calling her…that. Just a few weeks ago, she thought she would never see him again. And she had tried so hard to be stoic.
But she caved. She had cursed herself for sending that tape. Didn't she have any pride?
But she couldn't stand the thought that he might really be trying to contact her, while she was in a place that basically couldn't be reached by most forms of modern gizmos. And he might worry.
Or…he might be sorry.
The thing was, she knew him. She really did. And, yes, she needed him to spell out a few things but she knew his heart. And pride just wasn't worth the sacrifice of a life without him.
"Sara?" She was just in time to catch his concerned expression.
"Well, stop. We're here."
He got out of the car and scooted around fast enough so he could take her hand as she emerged, and he didn't drop it even as they started walking up a small hill in a very wooded area. At the end, stood a rather weathered house.
"Gris? You still have your weapon on you, don't you?"
"Nope," he said, cheerfully.
The door opened and Sara held her breath. And then released it, quickly.
Two middle-aged people emerged from the house. He had long grayish-white hair, and a matching long, grayish-white beard. Her hair was pure white, reaching down to the middle of her back. Her natural waves were…way past natural and heading toward the unkempt frizz stage. And they were both wearing matching tie-dyed tee-shirts.
"You must be Gil and Sara," the woman said, approaching them with great enthusiasm and a very wide smile.
"Do you recognize them?" Grissom asked Sara.
"No. Should I?"
"Well, yeah. They were on the Amazing Race this year."
Okay. Maybe she was the one who had gone round the bend during this breakup. For all she knew, she could still be on the Sea Shepherd, rocking back and forth in her cabin, while this "movie' played in her mind.
"I'm Anita, and this is my husband, Arthur. We were so happy to hear from you again, Gil. I'm really glad things…worked out. Come inside, let's have some lunch."
For the next hour, Sara was regaled with tales of their one-week stint on this television show she had never seen more of than commercials. Apparently, most of their time was spent in Brazil, doing very odd things. The oddest being going down a building via a large cargo net draped over the side.
He couldn't. He couldn't possibly.
Well, she thought he couldn't possibly leave his job, either. Or do any number of the things he seemed to be doing lately. And this would be as new a start as she could dream of.
But, what good would it do him? It had no connection to their real life at all. It was just a challenge.
She looked over at him, saw his blue eyes dancing. Looked over at Arthur and Anita and saw their eyes sparkling as well. Was there something funny being filtered in the air, here?
Still, he looked…downright happy. No frown lines. No worry about assignments or paperwork or being responsible for this, that AND the other.
It was probably a good thing she didn't have a fear of heights.
He looked over at her and everything seemed to stop for a second. His eyes stopped their dancing and just took on a soft expression. The warm one that belonged only to her. She caught it and tucked it away in her heart, just in case there was ever an occasion to doubt him again.
Yes, she'd follow him anywhere. And, if that made her a stupid woman, stupid she'd be.
Grissom wanted to laugh out loud.
Her incredibly agile brain was in overdrive. And she got it all wrong.
"Arthur, can you show us the bees?" He asked, hoping to steer her in the right direction.
"Bees?" Sara's voice rang out loud and clear.
"Yes, Anita and Arthur, among other things, are beekeepers."
"Ah," she said, and a little frown line appeared on her forehead. There went the wheels—turning again.
Anita and Arthur led them to their backyard—which was more like a back-wilderness. Through trees and into a clearing where there was a very elaborate apiary.
Anita passed out bee keeping helmets with the requisite netting.
"Don't we need to suit up?" Sara asked.
Anita brushed away the thought. "They won't bother you."
"Wanna make a bet?" Sara said under her breath, and gave Grissom a look. He smiled at her, remembering…
Arthur started showing them around, demonstrating a more natural setup than the one Grissom had created in the back of the lab.
"Arthur! I forgot," Anita woodenly said. "We are getting a delivery in a few moments. Gil, Sara, you can stay here, can't you? We'll be back in a few minutes."
"Oh, uh. Yeah. There is …you can use the smoke if they get out of line," Arthur said, shoving a can of smoke in Grissom's hands.
Grissom nearly winced. As actors, they were fine beekeepers.
They left and he was alone with Sara. And their fine winged friends, of course.
"What was that all about?" Sara asked, looking suspicious.
"So, what's up, Gil? I can't figure out if we are buying a bug farm or going to apply for the Amazing Race."
The look on her face was priceless. Kind of a terrified, though resigned expression.
He fell in love just a little bit more.
"Actually, neither. We're here just for the ambiance."
"Remember the last time we were in a place like this?"
She nodded and almost looked shy. That was one of the few times in his life where he could honestly claim he threw her for a loop. And, this time, hopefully—would be another.
"I've…made mistakes, Sara. But, not that day. That day, I got it right. I started with a thought that had been in my mind for a very long time and just…took a leap of faith. My only mistake was in not following through later. But, I've come to realize that maybe it wasn't a mistake after all."
The hurt expression on her face made him panic a little, but he wanted to do this right. He had been running it through his mind for a long time now.
"It wasn't a mistake to not get married then because I don't think I really understood the 'for better, for worse' clause. I do now. And…I want it all. So…" he licked his lips and averted his eyes just a bit. He could do this, he really could. But he couldn't quite look directly in her eyes. Just in case.
"So, maybe we should—no, we definitely should—get married. What do you think?"
He could feel his face getting redder by the moment. That was…probably as bad as his original proposal. The speech he rehearsed in his head went straight to hell about mid-way through, and he couldn't remember the poetic words to save his life. He just knew that he planned on dropping to one knee…
He put his hand on the table and was about to hit the floor when she reached out and put a hand on his shoulder.
"No?" He looked at her. It was time to take things like a man. Way past time, actually. What he saw, though, was just Sara. No, not "just' Sara. His Sara.
"No. I don't want to be hovering over you. You're not asking for my hand in marriage. You're asking, I think, for much more than that. And you already have it, don't you? You have my heart. You've always had it. This…was incredibly romantic, Gris. Setting this up with your internet buddies. Leading me to draw some really weird conclusions…And, for the record, I think the same thing I thought over a year ago. Let's do it. Let's do it now."
He smiled. There was the answer he wanted.
He thought of the rings in his pocket and the honeymoon suite booked downtown. He thought of growing old with this woman by his side. Ahead of them lay a myriad of fascinating discoveries…about the world and each other.
Choosing life, at long last.
Maybe, he'd buy her a matching orange Hawaiian shirt in celebration. Or, not.
"California has no waiting period. I checked," he said.
"Good. Because I didn't feel like driving over to Vegas and using that coupon for the alien wedding chapel I still have somewhere. All that energy should be put to better use."
He leaned forward and…did it again. They clunked hats.
She laughed through her bee keeper's helmet.
He grabbed her hand and led her just outside the apiary. He removed his helmet, then gently removed hers and kissed her. It was just a warm pressing together of lips but, as they broke apart, he realized she looked…happy. And it was because of him.
For the first time, in a long time, everything felt right.
It was time to hit the chapel.
By the time Anita and Arthur came back, they found discarded hats and a note, strangely written in two distinct handwritings:
"Anita and Arthur—
We are off to start our own amazing race.
With deepest gratitude for your help and kindness…
A/N: Okay. I've been trying to cut back on author's notes but this one needs it.
I know it's a freakishly odd story. But, there's a bit of a back-story. I brought up the beekeepers on the Amazing Race in a live journal entry. And Alicat713 challenged me to write a crossover fanfic. I don't think it was a real challenge but, you know, sometimes my mind wanders into strange places. I thought…wow, that could be really funny. BUT, because of the way the season is playing out…not so funny, is it? So, I started writing this story and had to make things right first. And, originally, it was about 1000 times more angsty than what I'm actually posting. And I hated it. Still, the first half of what's here is angsty enough.
And, yes, I did switch gears to bring in the Amazing Race elements but I'm not really considering this a crossover at all. I just thought Anita, Arthur and the bees were a semi-cute touch at the end of the angst and the beginning of the fluff (and they SO should have won the whole thing—they were awesome).
Anyway, I hope it's not too whiplash inducing. But, what I really hope is that TPTB give us something—anything—that completes and does justice to the story line THEY set up.