Scents and Sensibility
Author: Summer Reign
A love story involving all the senses.
Title: Scents and Sensibility
Author: Summer Reign
Spoilers: Pretty much everything
Disclaimer: They aren't mine. I just adopted them after their real parents abandoned them for some wunderkind.
Summary: "Love is like a beautiful flower which I may not touch, but whose fragrance makes the garden a place of delight just the same" - Helen Keller
Sara didn't remember his scent.
She would lie awake at night and try but...she just never took notice of it. Which was probably a good thing, she reasoned. If it had been something hideous, it might have overshadowed her initial impressions of the man.
But no, those were all safe and sound. She could close her eyes and still see him in front of the lectern. Tall, but not overly so. Taller than her. Which was a bonus. Curly, curly hair. Kind of a sandy brown with just hints of gray here and there. And, when she approached him that first time, she noticed the impossibly blue eyes. Like...Pacific Ocean blue. No, Monterey Peninsula blue. That was it. The blue-est blue she ever saw.
She laughed in the silence of her bedroom. What a nincompoop. Just like every other silly female out there. She should just get it over with, grab a notebook and write "Sara Grissom" all over it. Give her inner teen what it wanted.
That thought dampened the near giddy mood she was in.
The truth was, she'd probably never see him again. Monterey blue eyes and all.
He was in Vegas and she was in California. Not a huge distance but a distance, nonetheless. And she had a feeling he was a man who respected boundaries and expected people to respect his.
No, if they were to cross paths again, it would have to be his decision.
But, if that ever actually happened, she would remember to take a very deep breath so she could add that to the sensory file she was compiling on Gil Grissom.
She broke her promise to herself. Who could blame her? The next time she saw him, she almost forgot to breathe herself. Once that momentary lapse passed, the first thing she noticed (after the sexy smile and the now cropped hair) was his voice.
Sara forgot about Grissom's voice. That calm, collected voice of reason. That voice of knowledge. It was funny. When they had parted after their initial meeting, she remembered all the outside trappings. His eyes, hair, body, behind...
But she saw him again and that voice made her realize just how deep their connection was. Yes, there was a flirty smile to welcome her back. But, there was also an instantaneous trust on his part. She asked him how the girl was and he just...shared. Not only the facts but his feelings. He had known Sara for only a little while—well, on a face-to-face basis, but he trusted her enough to ask her to come out to Vegas during his work crisis. And she trusted him enough to drop her entire life and come running.
Because that voice had so much to say. And she wanted to hear it all.
She wanted to talk to him. All the time. Tell him...everything. Eventually.
She wanted to see him smile. Flirty, sexy, or just happy. She wanted to make him smile.
But, yes, she was once again too busy to notice his scent.
Until a few weeks later, when they were processing a scene and she smelled something sweet and cloying.
"Did you just slap on bad cologne?" she asked him.
He didn't wear any.
That made her want to take a whiff of Eau de Grissom and find out what he did smell like.
And before shift was over, she knew. He smelled like...a man.
Like soap. Like clean sweat. A bit musky. A bit...like himself, she supposed.
She couldn't categorize it and could never quite bring back that sensory memory when he wasn't there.
But, throw her in a room with a hundred other men and she'd be able to recognize him...
Just by his scent.
Sara stood way too close to Grissom. And, no matter how difficult their relationship got, he never told her to back off. Ever.
So much for loving those boundaries.
She wasn't really disrespecting his self-inflicted walls, she was just pushing at them a bit. He could always push back. He didn't seem at all shy about that type of thing in other areas.
But, he never did.
Maybe, she thought, he liked it.
Sara wasn't entirely sure of her motives—beyond the whole scientific exploration of personal space, that is. Maybe it was just her attempt to maintain a connection that seemed to be loosening with every passing day.
"Decomp?" he asked her suddenly, while she was looking over his shoulder as he was examining a specimen under the microscope.
She groaned inside. She must stink to high heaven. Obviously, he didn't run into one of their riper dead bodies. He smelled just as he always did. He must have showered fairly recently, though. The scent of soap was the top note in his particular perfume.
"Don't look so horrified," he smiled at her. Almost the way he used to. "I smell the lemons."
She breathed a sigh of relief.
"I used 15. The cashier at the supermarket thought I was having some wild party."
Grissom raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, we party hard at the lab." Then, he frowned. And said...nothing. Ah, the return of Mr. Enigmatic.
"You miss it that much?" she asked.
"Partying," she said, and immediately felt ridiculous. The thought of Grissom and parties...well, it was rather amusing, if not downright surreal.
"No. Not in the conventional sense. But, I do miss socializing. At times."
She bit her lip. Now was not the time to blurt out another dinner invitation. Besides, he probably meant socializing with...any woman other than her.
"How about you?" he asked, out of the blue. She didn't immediately understand what he was asking.
"Do you miss socializing?"
"No," she said, and realized she meant it. She had her work relationships, and the one social relationship she wanted, she couldn't have. So, what was there to miss?
He nodded slowly and went back to his microscope.
Sara left the room quietly.
Standing too close and sniffing him made her feel rather pathetic at that moment.
He was holding her hand and it was nothing like her fantasies.
She didn't think about the feel of his fingers as they interlaced through hers, or his shoulder pressing lightly against her own, or the sound of his voice as he told her he'd take her home.
All she could think of was that she must reek. Not of the alcohol she drank. She didn't really have that much. But, she felt dirty. She felt...spoiled. She had been stupid enough to believe that she could get behind the wheel of a car and drive with any amount of alcohol in her system. No, actually, it was never even a conscious decision. She just did it. She would nail a suspect to the wall for such behavior.
That, and the fact that, lately, she had associated alcohol with relaxation. Like...them. Her parents, them.
Except they were the prime examples of how that reasoning didn't work—at all.
And to not only be caught but to sit there, with Grissom by her side, while she reeked of shame...
She wanted to tell him she'd take a cab. But, she just couldn't find her voice. She could barely lift her head up as they walked down the hallway.
He probably thought she was too drunk to do it.
Vegas...was a mistake. A big one. She should have never left California. She'd have a lovely little memory of a brief flirtation with an incredible man and visits to Monterey would make her smile. Instead, she was this horror of a woman. A failure...
She felt a big, warm tear slide down her cheek as she watched the traffic through the passenger's side window. Another made its path down the other side of her cheek. Great.
"You..." there was that Voice again. "you ARE overly tired, Sara. We had...one hell of a case. And it's been a rough year. Don't...don't beat yourself up too much."
She nodded her head. She still couldn't speak.
"I have to put you on a mandatory leave. Just for a couple of weeks. No one will know. I'll tell everyone you are on vacation. Just...get some rest."
Get out of the car, take a shower to wash off the stench of this evening and pack up and run.
The sounds of the cars on the road were abnormally loud in the silence that followed.
"Yes?" she finally croaked out.
"Everyone makes mistakes. A...well, a priest once told a group of us that the hardest thing to do was forgive yourself. And, I think he was right. I should have forced you to take vacation. But, I have a feeling you're not blaming me, are you?"
She finally looked at him. Was he nuts?
"Of course not," she said.
He smiled at her. "There. That's better."
Sara smiled a bit, in spite of herself.
"Everything will be all right," he said and took his right hand off the steering wheel just long enough to reach out and grab her left and give it a reassuring squeeze.
His grip was firm, but gentle.
She could never leave like this.
She needed to stay and make things better.
Sara didn't really expect to sleep with Grissom before they ever even went out on a date. Frankly, she no longer expected to sleep with him at all.
But, he showed up at her door, after Nick was safely brought to the hospital after his kidnapping. And he just lunged and she lunged right back. And...
it was kind of fast and desperate.
He stayed the night. Mostly, she thought, because he fell asleep almost before the condom was off. And, yes, he did come equipped with his own. She supposed that either indicated a sex life she was unaware of or coming to her apartment had involved a little less spontaneity than his lunging would indicate. (Or, as she found out later, he just had it in his wallet for a very, very long time). It didn't really matter. He needed her and she needed him. That was the important part.
She barely slept. Mostly, she tried to just watch him in what little light the room had. Stupid blackout drapes. She was too chicken to hold him while he slept, which was silly...but...
She did link her arm through his upper arm and rested her head against his shoulder. She moved her head toward the crook of his neck. God, he smelled good. She just quietly breathed him in. Just before she nodded off again, she felt his fingers as they began to stroke her hair softly.
No words were spoken. No words were needed.
Maybe they had all died in that explosion and there was a heaven.
She remembered their first "date" with a smile.
It was incredibly awkward. Which was strange, since they were bed mates for quite a while before he decided to take her to dinner. To a restaurant that was a one and a half hour drive from Vegas.
He wore cologne. Old Spice, if she was not mistaken. Big spender.
Grissom seemed so self-conscious when they entered the restaurant. At first, she thought he might still be hung up over the age difference (which was stupid, but it did bother him a bit), but then she realized that he was scoping the place out for potential witnesses to their indiscretions.
And he continued to do so for most of the meal. While he had, somehow-rather miraculously- returned to the Grissom of old, sharing all his thoughts and feelings with her when they were alone (other than those relating to her, of course); in the restaurant, he could barely put a sentence together.
She tried not to remember the stories of him defiantly owning up to being an-all-night alibi for a dominatrix who was a prime suspect in a case.
If someone did show up through those doors, would he be defiant now?
Many months later-months when things alternated between clumsy, territorial, awful and wonderful—she had her answer.
While she was still in the hospital, every single member of their team (except Nick who still didn't seem to "get it") regaled her with their reaction to Grissom's "confession." How shocked they all were. She thought she hid how shocked she was to hear that he told the team that she was the only one he had ever loved, before he ever told her.
Later, Grissom himself 'fessed up to not being in the mood for sackcloth and ashes when Ecklie approached him earlier in the day. Their relationship was theirs alone. Not for public consumption. Well, not counting the whole spewing it out to the team moment.
So, yes, she guessed he had a defiant streak, after all.
And it was over her.
Now, there was a different kind of date. It was their first public appearance as a couple. In front of their coworkers. He wore some god-awful hat that he pulled out from...somewhere. Worn in the middle of a hot day in Vegas. Go figure. And, this time, his cologne of choice seemed to be Aqua Velva. She needed to accompany him on his trips to Rite Aid from now on.
He looked so young and boyish. Since...the desert...he said some things he never said before. To her, no witnesses. He smiled at her a lot. Touched her a lot. She was happy and, yet...not.
She should be, though. Everything she wanted, she now had.
Well, almost everything. She wouldn't work with him anymore. She wouldn't work with them.
But, in the grand scheme of things, what difference did that make? Really?
She smiled but it hurt to do so. Not in her healing face.
...In her heart.
When she left Vegas, she left in shame, after all.
She didn't stay and make things better because she just couldn't see a better. She couldn't see anything. Even Monterey blue didn't have its usual effect on her. All she wanted for Grissom was to protect him from contamination.
She just wanted to be alone and lick her wounds.
He kept calling her, though. Kept telling her the things he forget to tell her, pre-Natalie. Kept telling her about their apartment and their dog and everything that had ever been "normal" in their relationship. He cautiously told her about work—in very small doses, and never about anything that didn't involve some sort of punch line.
And, toward the end of that first separation, things got better. She called him a few times. She loved to hear his voice. It was home.
He was home.
And then they were together again and he was sad, and depressed and discouraged and said something he probably, maybe, didn't mean to say-but meant, just the same.
And home … was no longer home.
She took three things before she left:
A picture of the two of them in San Francisco.
A picture of their dog.
And a tee shirt of Grissom's—straight from the hamper.
At times, when she went on solo adventures and pretended to enjoy them, she'd breathe him in. She'd lock herself in her room, take out the shirt and just inhale. She never could quite remember his scent on her own.
As his scent faded, and time went on, she realized she was enjoying herself...to an extent. She could find a purpose in life. She could make a difference. And, in doing so, find some sense of personal satisfaction.
But she missed that scent. She missed him.
So very much.
That infuriating, curmudgeon of a man.
Probably never gave her a second thought. Unless it was to breathe a sigh of relief that she was finally gone.
But, just in case...maybe she'd send him an email.
She signed her name with a flourish.
Ecklie smirked. He was the only one who knew she changed it legally and it would now appear on her paychecks.
"It's Side, professionally," she warned him and he smirked again.
She couldn't help the wry smile that appeared on her face. Ecklie—the keeper of secrets. Oh, the irony. She'd have to own up to it with the others, someday, she was sure. But, for now, only one person could smirk at her that way.
Which was a good thing, because...there was work to be done.
Grissom, apparently, contacted the University of Nevada and got himself a job offer.
It would be taken with the understanding that when their funding finally came through, he would leave.
Sara told him to stay in France...in spite of the hideously long plane rides she took on a nearly monthly basis.
She had to be sensible.
Well, a high-priced plane ticket wasn't all that sensible. It kind of cut into their savings but there was only so much alone-time she could stand.
But, on a personal level, she needed to stand on her own feet.
Their separation had taught her a few things. First, as hard as it could be, she was a survivor. Her life would never be as happy as it was when she was with Grissom, but she could find a way to be productive and useful and that could lead to contentment. And the more she did these things on her own, the more confidence she'd have...just in case.
When she married him, her first impulse was to just live in the jungle forever. Eat berries and make babies...or not. And then they moved to Paris and they ate croissants and went to museums. But, when he got a job and she didn't...it was time to not be the coddled Mrs., waiting for a chance to work in a safe job tailor-made for both of them.
It was time to go back to what she ran away from. Because Sara Sidle never ran from anything in her life. Not permanently, anyway.
She stayed and made things better.
Besides, it was one honeymoon after another after she got off her transatlantic flights.
And their relationship would never get static...
She shook her head and sat down on the bed. Bed for one. Husband and dog across the world. All because she was afraid of potentially experiencing the pain she felt at that moment when Grissom told her their relationship was withering.
She leaned back and reached across to her nightstand. In the bottom drawer, was the latest worn Grissom tee-shirt she nabbed from him. He never questioned why a shirt of his would disappear for a month, only to reappear while another one went M.I.A.
She breathed deeply.
Was their relationship static then? Maybe. Or maybe he just missed her like hell and would say anything to make her stay.
Just as she missed him now.
If he got the grant tomorrow, would she go with him?
In a heartbeat.
So...how could their relationship be static with the two of them working separate jobs in Vegas?
She closed her eyes and saw him as he was now. Slightly older. Hair more gray than sandy brown. On any given day, he'd either have a beard...or not. He'd either be wearing a hideous hat...or not. He would dilute his naturally gorgeous man-scent with English Leather (being that he was now a transplanted European, after all).
And his eyes were still Monterey blue.
But the sensory file, while pretty darned complete, just couldn't hold a candle to the real thing. She never played it safe with Grissom. Sara went with her feelings. Now, after everything they had been through in life, now—was not the time to suddenly listen to her own voice of "reason." A voice that seemed to be playing into her deepest fears.
She was sharp as a tack, and knew it, but Sara's heart was the true gift she was given in this lifetime. She just needed to believe and take that one last leap of faith.
"Gil—I'm wasting too much money on these stupid flights. Come on home. Love, Sara."
Her email was answered by a smiley-faced icon with its thumb up.
Her loveable dork.
He was sniffing her. Lying naked in bed, in a post-coital stupor, sniffing her.
"Decomp?" she asked.
"God, I hope not. If corpses smell this good nowadays, I'm going to have to come out of retirement."
She smiled and ruffled his hair. It was longer this time around. She had read him the riot act the last time she saw him. He had hacked his hair off to within an inch of its life and she wasn't overly fond of that 'do.
"I'm not wearing perfume," she said, noticing that his Drugstore Brand X was missing, too.
"I know. I like the smell of pure you..." he punctuated his statement by pressing his lips against her throat.
"Down, boy," she said and pulled him slightly closer. Flesh on flesh never felt so good. But, she doubted there would be a round two any time soon.
"Boy is down for the count. But, I still can express my love for your..." he faded away.
"I just remembered our first time together. I just kept laying there, thinking there was so much I should be saying to you...and, instead, all I kept doing was memorizing everything about you. About what it felt like to be so close to you. There were times I needed that. Badly."
"You never pushed me for the words."
"No. I like them but I don't need them."
"What do you need?"
He leaned up a bit and looked at her.
There was that terribly soft smile on his face, the one that had been there, right from the start. It was the first thing she saw when they woke up together that first time. The first thing she saw when she regained consciousness on the helicopter, post-Natalie. And the first thing she saw every morning they were together since. And it was always accompanied by a look of such pure love in his eyes. That's why she didn't need the words. That look alone always made her want to weep.
"My kind of woman," he said and she squelched the tears for the moment.
And just held her husband tightly. And breathed it all in.
They were home.
A/N: I was slightly miffed that Jorja signed on for season 11. Mainly because I'm kind of over the series as it is now (The Nick and Ray Testosterone Hour is boring to me). And I'm annoyed that they never address the HUSBAND situation and why the hell Sara is in Vegas, mucking about with corpses rather than … well, eating croissants with the hubby in Paree.
Concurrently (two dollar word), I came up with this little story idea that got totally turned around on its head when I watched Dead Doll one day last week. It was no longer a tiny, fluffy little piece about Grissom's reaction to Sara's perfume, but something a bit more substantial (I hope).
I love Sara Sidle. And I believe in Jorja. If TPTB mess with GSR, I may have to spay and/or neuter some of them (which...I'm not so sure there aren't at least two of them that shouldn't get that treatment anyway), but I just wrote this to stand up for Sara Sidle (Grissom). Truly, before anything mucks up anything (I'm not British, all that talk about English Leather just got to me), I want to just write a big old sloppy love letter to one of my all time favorite female characters of all time.
Thanks for reading.