I said that once. To Catherine. And Catherine told me to lift my head out of the microscope.
Perhaps I shouldn't have listened to her.
If I hadn't, Sara would be off somewhere, bouncing a baby on her knee, with a loving, devoted husband by her side. One who knew how to speak with her, how to love her, how to share his heart.
I felt a migraine coming on already.
Sara is still emotional. And I'm not. It's not that I don't have emotions; I just don't like to show them. They are…messy.
There was so much paperwork piled up on my desk. So many things left to do. One person gone and the whole department seemed to be floundering.
Perhaps I would stay for a few more hours to catch up.
Sara wouldn't mind.
She…was not answering the phone. She hadn't since this morning's conversation in my office.
That might have been another mistake.
That young man I had to interrogate later—he made me extremely uncomfortable. Throwing back almost the same words I had used on Dr. Lurie all those years ago. "She promised me everything and took it all away."
That was my biggest fear when it came to having a relationship with Sara.
But she never did it. Not really. On paper, I suppose it might seem that way but all the feelings still existed. It's just our day to day lifestyles that were taken away. As a direct results of the actions of a madwoman. Really, blame must be placed where it belonged. Sara loved me. She always had and probably always would. Hadn't she dropped everything to come to me when she found out about Warrick?
But she wasn't staying. She couldn't. Again, Natalie's fault.
Except I couldn't punish Natalie.
I wanted my Sara back. In every way. And I wanted our lives back.
And there was a good chance she was not answering her phone for a reason.
Who do I blame for that? I made some promises, myself, didn't I? And, in her eyes, I may have taken them all away.
No. Sara would be waiting. For at least a little while longer. And maybe I would…tell her that we could, possibly, take a vacation soon. Not to the Galapagos. That's not a place to explore in two days. But, perhaps, I could take a weekend off and go down to San Francisco and see where she lives. Meet her mother, if she'd like.
I completed my paperwork and went home. To Sara. Only there was no one there and her bags were gone. I walked into the kitchen and saw a note on the refrigerator.
Funny. She placed the magnet so the note covered up her side of the picture of the two of us together all those years ago. The one with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. It was a souvenir, she said. And it still was. Me and the Golden Gate Bridge, with her likeness covered up entirely. Like she didn't exist.
"Hank is at the sitter's. I wish I could find the right words, but I guess I just don't know what they are. Re-read the letter I gave you before. Everything still applies. I hope you find what you're looking for. –Sara"
Funny. They had stayed away when Sara was there to put her arms around me and hold me tightly to her breast, or curl herself against me, her head resting against the crook of my arm.
She had a way of running her fingers through my hair. Kind of straightening out the curl for a moment, and then letting it snap back in place. I used to pretend that it annoyed me, but…it really didn't.
She wasn't there anymore to distract me. Save me from my own subconscious.
I saw Warrick in my dreams. As he was, that very last time.
I could see the life draining from his green eyes. Feel the warmth of his blood soaking through my clothes. Smell the coppery scent as it hit the air.
My hand was attempting to squeeze the hole in his neck shut. The one that just kept pouring his life's fluid out through my fingers.
I was trained in certain techniques. But nothing I could do would save him.
I woke up with tears on my face and Sara's scent still on my pillow.
We didn't speak of her. There was nothing left to say. Greg gave me dirty looks for a while. It was funny. He probably spent more time with Sara than any of the others during her brief return to Las Vegas.
I should have kicked his ass when he told her about the Adlers.
I also didn't call her, or think of her, overly much. Well, I thought of her all the time and then told myself to stop. Those thoughts were counterproductive. And I had a new person to train. Headstrong Riley. Catherine said she reminded her of Sara.
Except, I have a feeling she thinks I'm full of shit. Riley, not Catherine. Catherine knows I'm full of shit.
I was holding Warrick again. Even in sleep, I could feel my stomach muscles clenching in anticipation of the horrors to come.
I knew the same coppery smell would permeate my senses. The same wet warmth would be seeping through my fingers.
I clutched onto dream Warrick, holding his head against me. Willing him to live. Except the coarse curls under my fingers changed into something sleeker in texture. Something slightly longer. I held him closer to me. I didn't want to look down. I heard the same gurgling sounds as breath left his body and then, a hitch. The sound changed. It wasn't a man I was holding any more.
And, God help me, I looked down.
Sara's brown eyes looked back at me. Wide, trusting, pleading. And then—dead.
I began to wonder, mostly during those times when I was diligently doing my paperwork, who Sara would take when she eventually went to the Galapagos.
Maybe she'd call Greg.
He'd go. He'd march right into my office and tell me about it, too. Then, I wouldn't have to spend my life wondering, would I?
But Greg isn't the person Sara wanted.
Maybe she'd find someone.
Although…she really seemed to…devote herself to me. A few years ago, I might believe it was easy for her to move on, but she showed her loyalty in so many ways. It's not that I'm such a prize but she seemed to think me one.
She's probably the only person in the world who would feel that way.
If she ever went to walk in the footsteps of Darwin, I think she'd go alone.
I no longer wanted to sleep. I drank massive quantities of caffeine during the day and took Hank out on walks so long, he began dragging his feet. He didn't even jump up on the bed anymore to join me in my attempts at "rest" without slumber. Just fell asleep near his water bowl in the kitchen.
Sleep scared me.
Waking up scared me more.
How was I going to do this? I didn't know anymore.
Sara would know.
I had to stop this nonsense. I sent her away. I told her to go, and she always listened to me, even when she didn't agree with me.
The dreams in the desert were different every night. One night they were of her dying instantly. The next, it was seeing her under the car, feeling her hand and foot trapped under tons of metal. Seeing the water rise until she could no longer breathe and neither could I.
And then I dreamed of the desert the day we found her. Hot—so very, very hot. I was thirsty and could barely think straight. I could only imagine how she felt. Lost and walking for miles and miles and miles.
Catherine was not by my side this time as I searched for clues. I was all by myself. Walking…for miles and miles and miles.
And then, I knew she was there.
I ran to the exact same place I found her before. Well, Nick had found her and I followed.
But, this time, I found her.
Only Nick had been on time, and I was…too late.
She was gone. Had been, for quite some time.
And everything that I would expect to happen to a body had happened.
I should be cataloging the bug and animal activity. The level of decomp. The sights and the smells of the woman who once shared my bed and my life.
But all I could do was open my mouth and scream.
And I pushed through the wall of sleep and continued to scream, until the dog ran into the room and barked in fear.
"You picked up," I said, and realized it was a rather dumb thing to say.
"Were you hoping I wouldn't?"
"No. I wanted you to. How are you?"
"I'm fine. How 'bout you?"
"Mmmm…okay. Now that we're done lying to each other, how are you really?" She asked.
"Me, too," she said softly and I could almost see her pursing her lips in that way she had. In that way that always made me want to stop everything and kiss her.
"I can't sleep, Sara," I put my ear against the phone and listened so carefully. I wanted to hear every breath she took, wanted to feel the warmth of her permeating the phone lines and reaching though to my heart.
"Did you take something?"
"No. I…I can sleep. I just don't want to. I have…nightmares."
"Well, that's kind of natural, given the circumstances."
"I know," How could I possibly complain about my nightmares when she was still probably having some of her own? "So, did you…go on that vacation you were planning?"
There was silence. I think I may have stepped in it once again.
"I wasn't planning a vacation. I was…I don't know. Fantasizing, I guess."
"You don't want to see the Galapagos?"
"I do. But, it's not something I pictured doing alone. Maybe some day."
"You could…take your mother," I blurted out and listened to her laugh.
"No," was her only reply.
"You're…staying in that same place? Near her?"
"No. I…decided it was probably time to rent a place of my own. So, I found a little apartment. I've actually been painting this week. Kind of did it like my place in Vegas. Lots of color. You'll probably hate it. Not…well, you probably would, if you'd see it."
"I loved your apartment. Everything except the purple color in the living room and the hundreds of throw pillows we had to toss off your bed at night." That observation drew a laugh from her. "I felt…safe there."
Safe? That was an understatement. If I were ever to think of one place in the world where love, comfort and…ease…existed, it would be Sara's old bedroom. I had felt happy there.
"Do you want to tell me about your nightmares?" She asked quietly.
"No. You have enough of your own."
"That doesn't mean I'm not interested in yours."
"Sara…" What did I say to her? How could I possibly tell her all the things that were in my head and heart? It's not like I was promising her anything. I just wanted to hear her voice and, now that I had, the same internal battle was raging away.
She didn't say anything. Didn't let me off the hook. She had changed in that way. I'm not sure I liked it.
"I'm sorry, Sara."
"For not asking about your dreams. For not coming after you when you needed me. For not making it clear to you that I wasn't sending you away because I didn't love you, but because I loved you so much I could no longer deal with these times apart. For not…being strong enough to give up all the things that you've given up to be with me. And for not being able to let you go—even now."
That was probably the most I've ever said to her, in the way of revealing feelings, and it wasn't, apparently, enough.
"I'll tell you what," she said, finally. "I'll put the Galapagos on hold for a while. When you have a few days free, if you'd like…my living room is now light brown, not purple. I'll be getting my furniture out of storage soon and I'll make sure to ditch the hundreds of throw pillows on my bed. It's not an exotic vacation spot, but if you think you'd like to deal with me in small doses again…"
Her tone was both light and fearful at the same time.
Meet her halfway or truly end it. Don't do this to her anymore.
She's given you everything. And still is willing to give you all she can at the moment.
"You're letting me off the hook fairly easily," I said.
"For the last time, Grissom. I just want you to understand that. I will love you forever but I can't keep doing this to myself. Just so you know."
"I know. I do know that."
"Give me a few weeks, okay?"
I thought I heard her sniff discreetly. Must be allergy season down in the Bay area. Or something like that.
"Sweet dreams, Gil," she whispered and the sound of her voice soothed everything inside that had been aching for so long.
And that night, my dreams were sweet.
Two sets of feet, my own and Sara's…
Not walking in anyone's path but leaving our own footprints behind on our own slice of Paradise.
For once, I woke up smiling.
A/N: Sorry. I promised myself no more voluminous author's notes but…geez, Louise! You see what TPTB have reduced me to? Angst coupled with extreme morbidity. I have a fluff piece (challenge fic) that's due at the end of next week and I have today off and I'm busy working on this because it's really hard to think fluff when you've got an angst ball in your soul since the Happy Place (swallows imaginary hairball at the mere mention of the episode).
Anyway, I wanted to somehow redeem Grissom to my own personal satisfaction and give myself some hope for the future. And I felt like sharing a bit.