DISCLAIMER: I only wished I owned Sara and Sofia, Iíd never let them leave my room. Unfortunately CBS does own them and Iím just stealingÖ umm borrowing, I meant borrowing, them for a little while. They can keep Grissom.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hetero warning! Nothing graphic though and it has a femmeslashy happy ending. Sara didnít look to happy at the end of LLV, what I wish had happened before and after.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Leaving Las Vegas
A Thousand Words
Grissom studied the pictures on Sara's dresser with a bored curiosity while he waited for the brunette to finish her shower. He'd noticed them before but he'd never really taken the time, or interest, to actually look at them.
Up front, prominently displayed, were several group shots of the graveyard shift at some of the annual Christmas parties. They served more than words could ever convey just how much Sara had come to consider the team her family, a replacement for the one she'd never really had. Arraigned behind them were a few candid shots of each co-worker at a crime scene or at work in the lab. But it was two photos, tucked away and nearly hidden behind the rest, that really caught his eye.
One was yellowed with age, the edges frayed, but it was still clear enough for him to recognize a seven or eight year old Sara Sidle. Standing beside her, with an arm draped over her shoulders was an older boy that bore such a resemblance to her that he guessed him to be the older brother she'd mentioned to him once. Neither of them was smiling and Gil thought he detected fear lurking in the shadows of their eyes. He wondered for a moment why she would keep it out but then realized that with the abrupt and violent end of Sara's family life, the brunette probably hadn't been able to keep many mementos.
The second picture though, took his breath away. It wasn't the way Sara was draped across the familiar blonde's lap, snuggled against her. It wasn't the way Sofia's arms were wrapped around the brunette's waist, or the way that her hands disappeared under Sara's shirt to destinations he didn't want to contemplate. It wasn't even the smile on the detective's face as she nibbled at brunette's ear. It was how happy Sara looked. Her face, her entire body, radiated joy.
He couldn't remember ever seeing her smile that wide, or laugh that hard. It was a moment of pure bliss caught on film. And for a brief second he was vehemently jealous. But the alien emotion disappeared as fast as it had surfaced, to be replaced by a bone-deep grief. He had never managed to make Sara feel that way, and he probably never would. After fifty years he knew his limitations, and he knew he would never be able to show his feelings without restraint, never be able to be spontaneous, never be able to make her look that free, that alive.
Their relationship was rather subdued, quiet evenings sitting next to each other on the sofa reading scientific journals and quiet dinners prepared and eaten mostly in silence. Even their lovemaking was quiet, not passionate, or loud, or heated, or playful, as the picture in his hand seemed to imply that two women's relationship had been like.
"What are you looking at?"
Grissom jumped guiltily at the sound of her voice. He had been so caught up in the sensual image that he hadn't heard the water turn off.
Sara instinctively knew which picture had had him so enthralled before he handed it to her. She should have put it away a long time ago but she just hadn't been able to. Moving it behind her other photos was as close as she'd managed. Sara reached out and took it out of his hands and traced her fingers over the treasured memory.
"I never knew the two of you were so close."
Sara pulled her eyes away from that one perfect moment in time, a moment that still sometimes managed to wrestle control of her unconscious mind away from her demons, and regarded the man she was currently involved with. "We're not, not anymore. Not for a long time now."
Even Grissom could see the sadness in her soulful brown eyes. "What happened? You looked happy. You looked like you were in love."
Sara slid past him and returned the picture to its nearly hidden place on her dresser. She wasn't sure if she wanted to discus her past lover with her current one. But the can of worms had already been opened and though she was sure he'd let it go if she refused to talk about it she knew it would stand between them. "We were. Or at least I thought so. A month after that picture was taken, three weeks after I told her I loved her, she broke my heart.
Sofia didn't tell me she was leaving the lab. I found out from you when you announced it at the beginning of shift that she had put in her two weeks notice. Of course we had talked about her wanting to go back into police work, but I had assumed that that was somewhere in the future and that when it came time she'd talk to me about it. I mean if you profess to love someone aren't you supposed to discus things like that with them, not just take a position in another city without a word?"
Grissom had to consider his answer carefully. He was in effect about to do the exact same thing to her. "I can't tell you why she didn't tell you. And I don't know what the two of you may or may not have felt for each other. I never saw a hint of your relationship at the lab, you were both completely professional. The only evidence I have is that picture and based on it, the two of you were in love. And I think maybe you're still in love with her."
Sara felt her jaw drop at the declaration and it took her a moment before she could respond. "Have you lost your mind? I just told you she left me and broke my heart. Where in all that did you get that I'm still in love with Sofia?"
Gil slowly reached out and softly caressed the brunette's cheek. "The evidence never lies, Sara. It's been two years and you still have that picture on display. The way you looked at it, the way you touched it says that you still have feelings for her. We've been seeing each other for ten months now and you haven't told me that you love me. I thought it was because you just weren't ready or that maybe you were waiting for me to say it first. Now I think it's because someone else is still in your heart.
I'm the first to admit that I'm socially awkward. I'm not good with people or emotions but even I can see that you've been holding yourself back from this relationship. You love her, not me. Maybe with more time you'd come to, maybe not, I don't know. I do know that I want you to be happy and I don't think that you will be in the long run if you stay with me. You should see if there is still a chance for the two of you." It was the hardest thing he'd ever had to say but Grissom knew it was the right thing to do, for all of them.
"You're breaking up with me? Gil this is stupid. You said yourself that that was almost two years ago. She hasn't shown any interest in me since she got back. We're barely even friends now, never mind anything else. What's the real reason you don't want to be with me anymore?" It sounded halfhearted even to Sara's ears.
Grissom noticed that she hadn't denied her own feelings this time. "When Sofia transferred back to LVPD I asked her if she was going to miss the lab. She told me there were a few things she'd miss." He held up his hand to forestall the argument he could see in Sara's eyes. "I know she could have meant anything by that but with what I know now I believe that she talking about you."
"Then why has she never tried to reconcile, huh? Why does she act like there was never anything there?" The part of her that remembered how good it had been between them wanted so much to believe that Sofia still wanted her, still loved her. But the wounded part of her heart didn't even want to think about the possibility. Because if she did, if she even let herself hope, she was going to end up hurt again.
"Did you give her a chance too? Or did you push her away and run and hide? I think if you took the time to sit down with Sofia and talk to her, you might be surprised." Gil started for the door, but stopped before he crossed the threshold. He needed to tell her what he was about to do, otherwise he might not have any chance of even being her friend when he got back. "I'm taking a sabbatical. I accepted a short term teaching position at Williams. I leave the day after tomorrow."
"You were just going to leave without telling me? How long have you known? Wait, never mind. I don't care. Just just go." Sara was too tired and too emotionally raw to fight with him. Besides, it would be a lost cause to try. Once his mind was made up about something, neither hell nor high water would get Gil Grissom to change his mind, regardless of her, or anyone's, feelings.
Gil wished he could take it all back, start the morning over again. He wished he'd never seen that picture, never understood just how much he didn't have with her. When he'd finally understood how much he stood to lose by denying his feelings for her, he'd worked for days to gather enough courage to ask her if it really was too late. He should have known by how long it took her to answer that it was. He only had himself to blame though. If he hadn't been such a coward they'd have been together long before Sofia came into their lives. "I'm sorry Sara."
Sara didn't bother to respond or walk him out.
"Hey. My cab's here."
Sara turned and faced the entomologist, even though she really just wanted to bury her head in her locker and pretend he didn't exist. She had to act like a professional though because they would still have to work together when he returned. "So you're going?"
"Yeah." Grissom knew things were awkward between them right now, but he couldn't just leave without saying goodbye.
"I'll see you when you get back." See, she could do this. Sara could pretend that they had never been more than friends. She could act like he hadn't dumped her, like he hadn't abandoned her just like everyone else in her life.
After a few seconds of merely looking at each other she decided that he had said all he was going to say and turned back to her locker. So she was a little surprised when she turned and found he was still there.
"I'll miss you." He wanted to apologize, tell her he was sorry, take it all back. But he truly believed that she would never really be happy with him.
Sara knew he was speaking more about their relationship rather than his sabbatical. But she couldn't bring herself to care, or even respond. He'd hurt her and he was just going to have to understand that she was just a little bitter about that right now.
But as he disappeared without another word, she had to admit to herself, she didn't love him. Not the way she should after nearly a year together, and no where near the way she'd loved Sofia. And she'd been fooling herself to think she could shove herself into the tiny box life with him would demand.
Her finger hovered over the doorbell and she questioned for the thousandth time if she was doing the right thing. It had been ten days since Grissom had broken off their relationship and eight since he'd left. She'd been doing a little thinking during that time, ok a lot of thinking, almost to the point of total distraction. And it only got worse every time she saw the blonde detective.
Grissom had been right about a few things. She loved him, but she wasn't in love with him. And probably never would be. He was comfortable and safe but there had never been any passion in their relationship. Sara was still in love with Sofia. No matter how hard she'd tried to purge the woman from her heart, the blonde had firmly refused to be dislodged. And last but not least, she hadn't given Sofia a chance when she came back to Vegas.
She'd let the hurt and betrayal she felt influence the way she reacted to LVPD's newest detective. She'd pushed her away, run from her and ignored her to the point the blonde had just given up. But Sara had no idea if Sofia still had feelings for her. And she wasn't going to find out standing there on her doorstep like a statue.
Sofia barely had one foot in the bed when the doorbell froze her in place. Someone had really lousy timing. All she wanted was a few uninterrupted hours of sleep, something that was in very short supply these days. She had hated having to go to bed as the sun was rising when she'd been a CSI on graveyard shift, but she'd gotten somewhat used to it. She couldn't do that now with a detective's rotating schedule and she had to grab sleep whenever she could. Someone was going to get an earful for keeping her from her nice cozy bed.
She didn't even bother to check the peephole before jerking the door open. But the rude and rather nasty words she was about to sling at the idiot died on her lips when she saw who it was. "Sara? What are doing here?"
"I ah well umm that is " Sara found herself unable to form a coherent thought, forget about sentences, when she got a look at the long expanse of leg the blonde's preferred sleep attire of silk boxers had on display. She had to rip her eyes away from Sofia's supple flesh in order to get her synapses to start firing again. "Talk. I want to talk."
Sofia tried to look casual as she leaned against the doorjamb even though her heart had started galloping in her chest at the brunette's lust filled look. Because for all she knew Sara wanted to talk about a case, or the weather. "Talk about what?"
The tiny word was enough for Sofia to let her guard down and the brunette in the door. She wasn't going to waste the only chance she might get to reconcile with Sara, not when it was what she had wanted all along. If it hadn't been for Sara's vehement demand that she never speak to her again when she'd left and the cold shoulder she'd gotten when she returned, Sofia would have tried to rekindle their romance a long time ago.
When Sofia gave her a heart warming smile and stepped back in silent invitation, Sara mentally thanked Grissom for being a big enough jerk to break up with her over a picture.
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